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The real facts on colloidal silver

by Marshall Dudley with special thanks to Mike Devour, Brooks Bradley, Frank Key, Ode Coyote, Trem, Richard Harris, Rowena Evans [others to be added]

(Please note that this page is actively updated when new information becomes available and any errors found are corrected)

There is much information, and unfortunately misinformation, on colloidal silver. I will attempt to set the record straight in this document. Absolutely no funding was received for the creation of this document, I have researched the information, run experiments, and am writing this document for the benefit of mankind. Reproduction of this document is permitted as long as credit is given and a link to this url is provided so that any corrections or updates to the document can be easily found by others.

This document is in several parts.

1. Definitions
2. What is EIS
Why use distilled water
What happens when you take silver compounds
What happens to EIS when taken internally
How does H2O2 affect EIS
How does Gatorade affect EIS
Why is the ionic component important
Why is the colloidal component important
How does it kill pathogens
What is this about Argyria?


The following definitions will be used throughout this document:

EIS - Electrolytically isolated silver. This is what most people call colloidal silver, but is a combination of both colloidal and ionic silver.
CS- Colloidal silver. A colloid is a mixture of solid particles and a liquid. The particles are so small and support a charge, called the zeta potential, that they can stay suspended as a colloid indefinitely. With colloidal silver the particles of silver range from 2 atoms (.2 nm) to thousands of particles (100 or so nm) in size.
Ionic Silver - Silver compounds that dissociate when in water to form an Ag+ or Ag2+ cation and an anion. For EIS this will be a mixture of silver hydroxide [Ag2(OH)2] and silver oxide [Ag2O] and usually small amount of silver carbonate.
H2O2 - Hydrogen peroxide 3% grade
LVDC - Low voltage direct current (even when using polarity switching)
HVAC - High voltage alternating current
Particle - In this document a particle refers to a silver crystal suspended in water by mutual repulsion of a charge. Although an atom, molecule or ion could be called a particle, we are only using the term for silver crystals to avoid confusion.
ppm - parts per million, for EIS this is expressed in milligrams of silver per liter or water.

What is EIS

EIS is a combination of ionic silver and colloidal silver. It is typically about 90% ionic and 10% colloidal by weight, but can vary between 5% and 20% colloidal depending on how it is made.

There are two general methods of making EIS. The easiest method is to use pure silver electrodes (silver strips or wire) and apply a DC voltage between them. These are inserted into distilled water and the process is allowed to run until the desired ppm of the EIS is reached. This is the LVDC method.

The second method uses HVAC, typically 10,000 volts at 60 hertz once again in distilled water. To maintain the voltage with reasonable currents the electrodes can be either placed just above the water, so that the electrostatic field pulls the water up to the electrodes, or they can be placed inside of insulating glass tubes so that only the tip of the wire is exposed and submerged in the water. We will not be discussing the HVAC method any more since it is more difficult to build, operate, and has deadly voltages, plus if not done properly will produce nitrogen compounds.


The basic method of taking from one to 3 nine volt batteries and hooking up two electrodes placed into distilled water works, but has some major limitations. First the initial conductivity of the water is very low, but as ionic silver is produced increases.

Since increased conductivity increases the current, EIS is produced faster as time goes on. The result is basically an exponential where the conductivity increases exponentially, and the production (integral of the current) will also increase exponentially. This creates two problems, the first is that the appropriate brew time for a certain ppm will vary widely depending on the initial conductivity and temperature, and second the high currents toward the end causes an excessive increase in the particle size of the colloidal portion, making the brew less than optimum for both stability as well as effectiveness. Brewing a good quality EIS of over 5 or so ppm is almost impossible with this simple setup.

The best EIS is made by using a constant current source where the current is equal to 1 mA per square inch of anode material. For 14 gauge wire about 5 inches of length is 1 square inch. Secondly it is best to limit the concentration of the colloid at any point, so it is best to stir it as well. Although the stirring can be gentle, the closer the electrodes are to each other, the more vigorous it should be. Stirring can be accomplished by placing a Christmas light bulb under the container, using a soda straw submerged into the water attached to a motor, or an aquarium bubbler or pump. Using a light bulb to generate thermal currents is likely the least expensive method to use, but will result in a less optimum brew than using any of the other methods. Or one can stir it by hand every few minutes if you don't mind being bored. It will typically take an hour or more to make EIS of 10 ppm or so. Making EIS over 20 ppm becomes increasingly difficult so stick with less than 20 ppm.

The colloidal portion of the EIS is easily seen by using a laser pointer and sending the beam through the water in a darkened room. If you can see the beam then you have colloid. This is referred to as Tyndall. The ionic portion can be measured with a dissolved solids meter, and a number of colloidal silver generator sites sell those.

A more advanced system can be made by using a flow through process, where the EIS is drained off and new distilled water is added continually. Also, during electrolysis there will be a black buildup of silver powder on the cathode, and brown silver oxide on the anode. Reversing the polarity of the voltage every minute or so will cause these buildups to dissipate during the cycle. If you do not reverse polarity during brewing, then the electrodes should be cleaned after each use without using any soap or detergent.

Why use distilled water

If you do not use distilled water, or add a salt or other ionic component to the water before brewing, then the time it takes to make something is greatly reduced. However what you make will not be good. What happens is that instead of making colloidal silver, you will make 100% silver chloride or other salts (from the salt, or chlorine in the water, or silver fluoride from the fluoridation). As the silver chloride builds up it begins precipitating out (it has a solubility of only about .89 ppm). If you drink this you will not only not be getting any colloidal silver, but will be getting a silver salt which by itself can cause Argyria. Stan Jones is a prime example of this happening, he was making a witch's brew of silver compounds by not using distilled water.

What happens when you take silver compounds.

A silver compound will typically become silver chloride as soon as it hits the stomach. The silver chloride is sparingly soluble, about .8 ppm. The dissolved silver chloride will move into the blood stream and once there will be exposed to chemicals that will induce the silver to plate out on any other silver particles present. However when silver compounds, such as silver chloride or silver nitrate are taken initially there will be no other silver particles present, so the silver chloride circulates in the blood until exposed to light in the skin, where they are photo reduced to silver atoms. This is the photographic process that occurs when you take a picture (with a film camera). Once the silver atoms are produced in the skin, then the rest of the silver chloride will begin reducing onto those particles making them grow very fast, and resulting in many of them getting stuck in the skin. Since the particles are so small, they will appear as black or blue, giving the skin a bluish cast. This is called Argyria, and can result from taking silver compounds without any colloidal component. Applying silver compounds directly to the skin can increase the effect tremendously.

This was dramatically demonstrated by Paul Karason who the news media has dubbed "The Blue Man". Although the news media has continually said that he was taking colloidal silver, nothing could be further from the truth. Interviews with him have determined that he not only was NOT taking colloidal silver, but was following a protocol that would almost certainly lead to his condition. He obviously did not read this report, since if he had, he surely would never have done what he did. First he was adding sea salt to his distilled water, and was not using any current limit. Thus what he was making was silver chloride, a silver compound well known to cause Argyria, NOT colloidal silver. He had NO colloidal silver at all in his brew. Instead of being crystal clear, as properly made colloidal silver is, he had so much silver chloride in it, that it looked more like milk than water. It is likely that he had 100 ppm of silver or more in his concoction, whereas 10 ppm is typical for normal CS. He did not limit current, or do any of the things necessary to make a good colloid. This is important, since Argyria can only be expected when high levels of silver SALTS are taken. On top of that he applied it directly to his skin, effectively making his skin a photographic plate, and used tanning beds to "Fix" the silver in his skin. Researchers such as myself have been warning people about this for almost 10 years now, long before people started reporting the problem. Obviously he did not get the memo! I really don't think I could have come up with a better protocol to turn blue. It is almost identical to a method I had played with (in vitro) to produce tattoos by putting silver chloride on the skin, and exposing to light via a template to produce a blue tattoo. To see just what one can end up looking like if they ignore the information on the correct way to make colloidal silver, and use silver compounds instead, here is a picture of Paul.

Paul Karason died September 24, 2013 in a Washington hospital after suffering a heart attack, at age 62. 
Had his death occurred five years earlier it likely would have gone quietly unnoticed. But in 2008, Karason went on the Today show to talk to Matt Lauer about something most unusual: his blue skin. Karason says he started turning blue a decade and a half ago, the result of applying and ingesting silver. He was trying to treat dermatitis on his face and had used what the Christian Post describes as "a silver-based remedy" along with colloidal silver.

NBC News explains that the latter was something he drank, and describes it as a liquid Karason made himself that has silver particles suspended in it. He consumed 10 ounces a day. It was outdated medicine, however: Though silver had been used as medicine for thousands of years, it was effectively replaced by penicillin in the 1930s, and was banned by the FDA because it causes argyria, in which silver amasses in the skin and organs and stays there. It causes the blue coloration. The Post notes that Karason was known by some children as "Papa Smurf," but bristled when adults used the term, according to his estranged wife. In addition to his troubled marriage, Karason fought prostate cancer and health problems, and struggled financially. 

Remember, silver compounds are great for making photographic paper, not for taking internally or applying to the skin.

What happens to EIS when taken internally?

Since there are two components to EIS, then two different things happen.

The colloidal portion diffuses through the stomach wall rather quickly and enters the blood stream as long as the particles are small enough.

The ionic portion is a combination of silver hydroxide and silver oxide. While in solution they continually convert from one to the other and back again. Each has a solubility of about 13 ppm, so any EIS which is less than about 26 ppm and a pH of 7 will be totally dissolved. Upon contact with the HCl (hydrochloric acid) of the stomach both of these compounds will immediately form silver chloride. The silver chloride has a solubility of .8 ppm, so most of the silver chloride will precipitate out, but the remaining part will quickly move into the blood stream. As it does, that which precipitated will redissolve and move into the blood stream as well. The end result is that most of the silver chloride will move into the blood stream over time, but at a lower rate than the colloidal portion.

Once it is in the blood stream it is exposed to the same effects we discussed for silver compounds above. Basically it will try to plate out on any silver particles it finds. Since there will be colloidal silver which already passed into the blood, there will be lots of particles for it to plate out on. So in short order the silver in the silver chloride plates out onto the colloidal particles already there, and they grow by a small amount. Typically for an EIS of 10% particulate content, the particles should grow to about double in size. This is insufficient to cause them to get caught up into tissues, and they eventually get removed by the kidneys.

So, as it turns out. colloidal silver is actually a prophylactic against Argyria, instead of a cause as some would have you believe.

How does H2O2 affect EIS

When H2O2 is added to EIS (one or two drops per glass of EIS), it will be noted that there is an immediate clearing effect. The Tyndall (what you see if you shine a laser pointer though the liquid) will become very faint as well. If the ppm of the EIS is sufficiently high (25 to 30 ppm) a white cloudy precipitate may form as well.

There are a number of reactions that occur. H2O2 is normally thought of as an oxidizer, but it can act as a reducer as well. Also silver is considered a catalyst for H2O2, but in actuality gets directly involved in the reactions.

The H2O2 reacts with the silver particles, producing ionic silver, a combination of silver hydroxide and silver oxide. This makes the large particles disappear, reducing the Tyndall. However H2O2 also reacts with the silver oxide and silver hydroxide producing a 2 atom colloid of silver plus oxygen (and water in the case of silver hydroxide). Over time this 2 atom colloidal particle can end up being converted back to silver oxide and silver hydroxide, and so forth. The final result is a mixture of ionic silver (hydroxide and oxide) and very small colloidal particles. Thus if you add H2O2 to freshly made EIS, you can sometimes see the oxygen bubble off, and the Tyndall may change significantly. But more importantly, the particulate portion of the EIS will go from being medium or large particles to many more very small particles, and the particle content will increase from a typical 5-15% to around 30-50%. If you have a strong Tyndall from large particles, it will decrease, and if you have a weak or no Tyndall it will increase with the formation of the 2 atom particles. This enhances absorption, as well as effectiveness. Note that it is recommended to let the EIS sit for 5 or more minutes after adding the H2O2 to let it stabilize. Also some experts recommend letting EIS age for 2 or more days before adding the H2O2, and experiments by me indicate a more consistent effect if this is done. For some images of the effect H2O2 has on silver particles see Hydrogen Peroxide and Colloidal Silver Micrographs

How does adding Gatorade to EIS affect it

One study group, as reported by Brooks Bradley, found that mixing 1/3 EIS with 2/3 Gatorade enhanced the absorption of the EIS significantly. I undertook an analysis to find why this is so and believe it is due to the solubility of AgCl in water with additional chlorine ions present. Normal theory indicates that in the presence of chloride ions, the solubility of silver chloride drops. In fact it drops from about .8 ppm to about .2 ppm in the concentration of these ions in the stomach and blood.

However that ignores that silver will form soluble complexes of chloride when there is an excessive amount of chlorine in the liquid. The result is that as you increase the hydrochloric acid or salt in water the solubility of silver chloride decreases significantly, but then begins increasing again, so that when it reaches the level in the stomach and blood it is right back to .8 ppm again.

So if you take EIS by mouth, it dilutes the stomach acid so that the solubility of silver chloride is reduced to below .8 ppm. But if you mix it with an electrolyte solution, such as Gatorade, it forms complexes with the chlorides so that solubility is maintained and that improves the absorption into the blood by several times.

An alternative theory proposed by Ode Coyote is that water is absorbed slowly by the stomach since the body has to maintain the correct electrolyte balance in the blood. However Gatorade with the proper electrolyte content is absorbed much faster since it matches the blood levels, and thus carries the colloidal portion into the blood immediately, and also allows transfer of the silver chloride at a much faster rate as well. Although both theories are completely different, fact is that the actual action is most likely due to both.

Note that adding Gatorade increases the speed that EIS is absorbed into the blood. Thus for food poisoning, or attacking pathogens in the stomach or intestines, Gatorade should NOT be used since you want the EIS to remain in the stomach as long as possible. Bob Lee did an experiment on using CS for food poisoning that is quite a remarkable tale. A reprint of his essay is Here.

Can I do both

If you add a small amount of H2O2 (1 drop to 4 to 8 oz) to the EIS and let site for 15 minutes, then add the Gatorade and drink immediately, then you should be able to get both effects. Do NOT add the H2O2 and Gatorade at the same time, or you will end up changing all the colloidal silver to silver chloride which would NOT be good.

Why is the ionic component important

Ionic silver has the proven ability to cause DNA to dedifferentiate or revert back to stem cells (See The Electric Body by Robert Becker). Normally once DNA has expressed certain genes, it cannot return, so once a cell is skin, or a blood cell, it cannot morph to another cell type. Now, if you apply silver ions to a burn or an injury, the blood cells can convert to the necessary skin, nerve and other cell types as needed. Without it, they can only form scar tissue. So using an EIS that has ionic content promotes healing without scarring. I personally cut the end off of my thumb and kept the stub wet with EIS for days. The result was a complete regrowth with fingerprint, so now I can't even tell which thumb was cut. Burns, even 3rd degree burns, can heal without scarring when silver ions are present. This is used by many burn units now, with such products as Silverlon bandages and acticoat.

Why is the colloidal component important

As stated above the colloidal component provides sites for the silver chloride to precipitate out on that are numerous, and in the blood. Without them, they would be photo reduced in the skin, then plating out on those few particles can cause them to grow rapidly and get caught causing Argyria.

How does it kill pathogens

Now we are getting into an area that is not nearly as clear cut as the above. That it does kill microbes, and disable viruses is a fact, but how it does it is still up to dispute. The following are some theories.

1. Silver particles are an oxidizing catalyst, and as such oxidize pathogens killing them. This is how H2O2 works as well.
2. Silver interferes with the microbe's respiration.
3. Silver ties up or disables the sulfur in the microbe.
3. Silver short out the electrostatic fields in the cell

Most of the above would not apply to viruses though. Instead the possibilities for disabling viruses are:

1. Silver particles are an oxidizing catalyst and oxidize the virus killing it.
2. Silver causes the virus DNA or RNA to revert back to being undifferentiated, and without the proper expression for that host is disabled.
3. Silver repairs the broken (segment of) DNA of a virus, making it complete, but no longer a functional virus which by design has an incomplete DNA.

What is this about Argyria?

As outlined above Argyria is caused by the photographic process. Silver salts/compounds are exposed to light in the skin and reduced to silver atoms. If the level of salts is sufficiently low, the atoms are swept out of the skin by the blood flow and everything is fine. If however the level of salts in the blood is over some minimum level the atoms will increase in size as the silver salts plate out on them, growing so rapidly that they will become stuck in the tissues. This is the photographic development process. To prevent Argyria it is essential to keep blood levels of silver compounds below a threshold value. This is done by taking a combination of both silver compounds and colloidal silver (the composition of EIS), so that when the silver salts plate out, there are huge numbers of silver particles in the colloid present so that growth of any particle (even those formed in the skin by the sun) is minimized, and no particle grows large enough to get stuck.

Some people who have taken large amounts of EIS (several quarts or more a day) have reported bluing of the moons of their fingernails. This can occur when the level of EIS exceeds some amount, which seems to vary depending on the person, and whether they are deficient in vitamin E and selenium or not. Vitamin E and selenium have a prophylactic effect on Argyria, and on the bluing of the fingernail roots. Apparently taking silver over time can also cause a loss of selenium and even a deficiency. If you take EIS over long periods of time it is suggested that you supplement your selenium intake ( Natural sources of selenium are listed at Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Selenium, and Brazil nuts are very high in selenium). Anyway, the body disposes of silver by several routes ( see ), the kidneys, the liver, sweating, and by putting metals into hair and nails. The body collects excess amounts of metals in the nail bed to allow it to put those in the nails. If concentrations exceed some amount in the nail bed, then aggregation can occur, causing the nail bed to turn blue. Although this appears to be Argyria of the fingernail moons, the mechanism is totally different. Also it is probably a pretty good warning that you might be taking more silver than you should, and unless you are taking it for a chronic condition, should cut back, and/or you should supplement with selenium.

Note that although the medical community considers Argyria permanent, there have been some successes reported by taking selenium, Vitamin E and Vitamin C. Because of the nature of Argyria, EIS will not cause Argyria, but can make it worse if you already have it. The reason is that EIS contains particles that quickly reduce any silver salt levels in the blood so that any silver seed particles formed in the skin are unable to grow enough to get stuck. However if you already have particles in the skin that are stuck, then ANY silver compounds in the blood at all will over time plate out on those particles making them grow even larger. That is why some people who have gotten Argyria (from other sources than EIS, such as silver citrate, attempting to make EIS with tap water, silver nitrate nose drops, silver acetate smoking gum/lozenge or MSP) and have managed to get rid of the Argyria's color using selenium, vitamin A and C, find that it tends to return even when taking high quality EIS. That is because the protocol is reducing the particle sizes to where they no longer absorb light, but not to the point of getting them unstuck in the skin. If the protocol is continued without any silver intake over a long enough period it might be possible to eliminate these seed particles completely, but at this point there is no data on this.

There have been reports that the following protocol is capable of eliminating Argyria:

1. 200mcg of selenium per day is a safe supplement to take on an ongoing basis.
2. He also advises a high-quality,* mixed vitamin E, at 1000 IU per day for people over 50 years of age who may be at risk of stroke, and 2,000 IU per day for people under 50 who are not at risk of stroke. I told Dr. Gruenn that I was taking 4,000 IU a day. He replied that this was still safe for a strong healthy person. The danger of high doses of vitamin E is that it thins the blood. This could be dangerous in many situations where bleeding is hard to stop.
3. Personally, I would also drink lots of water, simply because that's how the body clears out debris. No one knows if this therapy will prove efficacious, or if it does in how many cases. If my liver spots are any kind of indicator, some lightening of t he skin ought to be visible within six weeks if this therapy really is working. Three to six months should be a sufficient amount of time to completely eliminate Argyria provided that no additional silver is being ingested. (Since my conversation with Dr. Gruenn, I've had some additional ideas for getting the most out of this nutritional therapy for Argyria.)
4. 2 tsp. of MSM per day. Sulfur (MSM) binds with silver and can help to pull it from the body. More information on silver and sulfur can be found on page 74.
5. 4,000 mg. of vitamin C per day.
6. 1 tablet a day of a good quality multiple mineral since this therapy may deplete needed minerals from the body.

* Most vitamin E supplements are of poor quality and some even contain rancid oils that will be an additional burden rather than an aid to the body. Dr. Gruenn recommends a vitamin E that has a mix of d-alpha, beta, delta and gamma tocopherols. (Avoid tocopherols, which are artificial and will not work).

D.M., Portland, ME (the Argyria cure only)

Marshall Dudley

This paper is provided as a research tool for those wanting to research and understand colloidal silver. No claims are made to it's accuracy or suitability for any use. If there are any errors found we will be happy to correct them.