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What is "Colloidal"? Or "Colloidal Silver"?

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Many people have heard of colloidal silver. Way fewer people have heard of colloidal gold or colloidal iodine. Almost no-one has heard of colloidal tin or colloidal iron. This is not surprising.

However, it is surprising is that most people do not realize how colloidal materials are a part of everyday life. Colloids don't just appear in 100 year old science papers, they appear in most people's homes.

What is Colloid?

This common question is better phrased as, "what is a colloid?" The answer is that a colloid is a particle between 1 and 0.001 micrometers in diameter that is evenly dispersed throughout another substance. A colloidal system may be liquid, solid, or gaseous.

Restated, a colloid is a very small piece of something (for example, a metal like silver, a liquid like water, or a very tiny bit of air) that is mixed into something else. For example, when a very tiny bit of air is mixed into cream, the result is a unique new colloidal substance: whipped cream.

It is uncommon to ask "what is a colloid" because there are virtually always very many of these tiny particles within the colloidal substance. Thus, it is more common to ask, "what are colloids?"

What are Colloids?

Colloids are a collection of individual colloid bits of matter. Using the plural "colloids" instead of "colloid" makes sense most of the time.

With the whipped cream example, colloids are the millions upon millions of tiny bits of air trapped within the cream that so suitably completes a slice of pumpkin pie. An individual colloid (one bit of air) does not make for a sufficiently stiff dessert topping.  Very many air bubbles are needed.  Typically, in fact, very many colloids are needed to make a recognizable colloidal substance.

For example, you need many bits of pigment within paint for it to be sufficiently colorful.  Similarly, you need many millions of solid pigment colloids to make a piece of colored glass colorful enough to include in a cathedral.

Colloids can be almost anything. Colloidal substances are almost everywhere. We don't commonly call them "colloidal this" or "colloidal that" (for example, "colloidal blood", "colloidal paint", or "colloidal air in cream"), but colloids are extremely common. In the case of colloidal silver, for some reason the name "colloidal silver" is the name that has stuck. Perhaps if colloidal silver was as tasty as whipped cream it would have received its own unique name centuries ago.

What is Colloidal?

A colloidal substance is something that includes colloids. Whipped cream is a colloidal substance.

Likewise, styrofoam is a colloidal substance (it has tiny bits of air trapped within a solid).

Likewise, milk is a colloidal substance (it is an emulsion that has tiny bits of fatty liquid trapped within another liquid).

Likewise, fog and clouds are colloidal substances (they have tiny bits of water mixed within air).

Likewise, smoke is a colloidal substance (it has tiny bits of solid materials mixed into the air).

What is Colloidal Silver?

Colloidal silver is a mixture of tiny pieces of solid silver within water.

Not all substances that are called "colloidal silver" are the same. Many important details can vary from "colloidal silver" to "colloidal silver", including:

  • the purity can vary (... other substances can accidentally or intentionally be included)
  • the specific nature of the silver can vary a lot (... for example, the size and shape of the particle matters a lot)
  • the specific nature of the water can be very different (... surprising but true)
  • the pH can range from very acidic to mildly alkaline

In sum, the resulting substance can vary a lot. However, in essence all colloidal silvers share the basic quality of having tiny bits of silver mixed within a much larger amount of water.

Several different types of colloidal silver are defined in our glossary.

What About Structured Silver?

As mentioned above, there are many different types of colloidal silver. Some are impure, some are acidic, some have large particles, some are red, and so on. Structured silver is one of these mixtures of silver and water that is generally called "colloidal silver", but it is one specific and unique combination of water and silver. To keep it distinct from the other silvers, we call it structured silver.

The differences are numerous, but in a nutshell structured silver is the best form of silver we can make. It has a mild alkaline pH, has very little taste, and makes use of our proprietary research into structured water.

How are These Words Pronounced?

The first syllable (co) rhymes with go, slow, and whoa.

The second syllable (lloid) rhymes with Lloyd, Floyd, and Boyd.

The third syllable rhymes with (al) rhymes with gull, dull, and hull.

When saying "colloid" or "colloids", the accent goes on the first syllable.

When saying "colloidal", the accent goes on the second syllable.

That's it - simple as pie.

Colloid, Colloids, Colloidal...

Now you're one of the few people who knows what milk, whipped cream, styrofoam, and fog have in common!

See Colloids in Context
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