What Happens If You Put Silver In Milk?

Iain Robertson
By Iain Robertson July 27, 2020 11:04

What Happens If You Put Silver In Milk?

Back in the day, before refrigeration, a particular problem was keeping stuff fresh for extended periods. There were many weird and wonderful ideas, the practical ranging from the Victorian ice house, to cool dark pantries and root cellars.

Curries actually evolved in India to extend the life of meat and chicken by masking off-flavors as the food was turning. Yogurt came about from milk processed in Mongol horsemen’s saddlebags.

Other techniques evolved like pickling, creating pemmican and preserving dried meats and fish. Jam has always been popular, and Kilner jars are especially useful.  Today, there are many practical aids for preserving foods.

When US settlers were heading west in earlier times, keeping milk and water fresh became of great importance. Today, preppers looking at extended periods in seclusion or travelling to another location face the same problem – a need for fresh and wholesome milk and no fridge, or a fridge and no power.

One solution for milk and water that has been passed down through the generations, but currently generally thought of as a folk-tale, is that adding silver to milk and water keeps it fresh for longer.

There are tales of settlers putting a silver dollar in their milk pails and water butts. Sailors put them in their water barrels.

The truth is that it does seem to work. Tests have shown that silver keeps the milk fresh, for anywhere between 2 to 10 extra days.

Related: The Top 6 Historical Egg Preservation Techniques

The History

The science behind the pharmaceutical properties of silver has been well known since the time of Hippocrates. Silver and some simple silver compounds have been used domestically and in warfare, as an antiseptic agent, up until antibiotics were discovered. It is especially useful in treating wounds. By 1940, about fifty different silver compounds were marketed as being able to handle many infectious diseases.

Historically, silver has been a crucial part of folklore. In Europe, it has long been considered to be an antidote to some illnesses and bites, but its most common association has been as a vampire and werewolf repellent and killer. They could only be killed by silver pointed arrows or silver bullets.

Just like sailors, settlers in both Australia and America put silver in their water casks to delay spoilage, by as much as several months in some cases.

The Chemistry

What Happens If You Put Silver In Milk?The antibacterial effects of silver seem to come from the release of ions (charged particles) into a liquid.

When a silver atom loses an electron or two, it becomes a positively charged ion, and ions are thought to be bio-active, leading to the conclusion that silver ions are what is killing off the bacteria in the milk, that causes it to spoil.

Regarding silver dollars, current ones are of no use because they don’t actually contain silver. You would need to buy “Silver Rounds” from a coin store, a measured ounce of 99.9% silver. The price will vary, so check out different store prices first. You might even be able to get a good deal online.

The next big question is whether colloidal or ionic silver is better.

Put simply, colloidal silver is a suspension of incredibly tiny silver particles in water. Ionic silver is silver in water that already has large numbers of ions, and their positive charge will keep them apart, maintaining an even distribution throughout the water.

On balance, ionic is better. Because the active ingredient is ions, why buy a bottle of particles, when you can buy a bottle of ions? The presence of ions ensures even distribution, meaning that each dose is uniform and of known strength. A second benefit is a better shelf life, but this also comes with a main disadvantage, which I will elaborate below.

Related: 10 Home Remedies for Emergency Toothache Relief

How Much Silver to Use and How Long Does it Help

The first thing to note is that it should be nearly pure silver to have the best effects. As already noted, silver currency nowadays does not have nearly enough silver, so use “Silver Coins” bought at coin stores. They are an ounce of 99.9% pure silver and can be used many times. Also, since the price of silver rises, perhaps they are a good investment.

Unless you want to go through the trouble of using colloidal or ionic silver, which is not reusable and more expensive, then a Silver Coin is the way ahead.

There is another reason not to use colloidal and ionic silver as a first option. It is a potent antimicrobial agent, which is why it keeps milk fresh. However, when it enters the gut as you drink the milk, it kills all the bacteria in your gut, including all the beneficial bacteria we need to process food.

Colloidal silver also kills the probiotics in the milk, preventing it from turning to sour milk as it usually would, instead turning it putrid. Putrid milk, as well as tasting pretty foul, will make you very sick. This is particularly relevant to the current move to treating raw grass-fed unprocessed milk with silver.

Finally, you can’t make whey or cheese from milk treated with colloidal silver.

So, one Silver Coin in your milk bottle or water dispenser will do the trick. I  don’t know about cutting one in half.  Better ask the coin dealer. Milk will last for about 2 to 10 days longer, and water will be drinkable for a few months.

Related: How to Make Colloidal Silver and How to Use it

Health Issues

What Happens If You Put Silver In Milk?Under normal circumstances, silver is of no use to humans. Silver itself has no biological effect, but some silver compounds are toxic, and may even be carcinogenic.

Handle pure silver, which is not absorbed into the body (unlike colloidal silver).

Absorbing silver is not good, since absorbing too much silver has a dietary effect and will give a blue-grey tint to the skin, eyes and nasal membranes. Great for a fancy-dress party, but beware, the blueness lasts.

The blue-grey tint, called Argyria, can also be acquired through alternative medicines. Because of its antibacterial action, and it’s natural source, silver is popular in natural medicine. Taking too much as self-medication, even though the potion might be harmless, could give you Argyria.

It is also used in foods and is known in India as Varak (or Vark). The EU classes it as a food coloring, for external decoration only, and it is banned in Australia.

The bottom line is to be careful in handling anything other than pure silver, especially colloidal silver and silver compounds.

Other Considerations

Some people have reported that they find an off-taste when using silver cutlery to eat milk products, or drink water from silver cups.  They are often confused as to whether the off-taste is them or something to do with the silver, since it doesn’t seem to happen with other types of cutlery. A typical situation is eating a boiled egg with a silver spoon.

Don’t worry, this is a common chemical reaction between silver and sulfur compounds. The silver is forming silver sulfide. Simply put, contact between silver and materials with sulfur compounds causes the reaction and tarnishes the silver cutlery.

You have probably seen this with silver cutlery left unused for some time. The silver reacts with hydrogen sulfide (the gas that smells like rotten eggs) in the atmosphere. It can come from some local personal biological actions, industrial processes and the decomposition of plants and animals.

The effects for the preservation process can be seen with the rubber bands sealing Kilner Jars, and items containing hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise and mustard.

Silver can be a valuable aid to preserving milk and water for immediate use.

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Iain Robertson
By Iain Robertson July 27, 2020 11:04
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16 Comments

  1. Bartman July 27, 15:49

    Current US silver dollars from the mint do indeed contain 99.9% real silver.

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  2. Chuck July 27, 17:01

    I’ve been using sub-micron, ionic silver daily for years. (colloidal silver could cause argyria, but not ionic silver). I have not suffered any effects from harming good bacteria. Ionic silver kills harmful bacteria, viruses (including CV viruses) and other pathogens. I haven’t suffered a cold or flu for many years. I’m 85

    Reply to this comment
    • David July 27, 21:26

      Hello Chuck, what should I expect to pay for the 30, 60 or 90 day supply of Ionic silver you take daily? Thank you!

      Reply to this comment
  3. left coast chuck July 27, 17:28

    U.S. silver dollars were 90% silver as were the Roosevelt and Mercury dimes. The Kennedy half dollar and Eisenhower silver dollar were 40% silver.

    Since the federales phased out silver in their metal coins the dimes, quarters and half dollars are bimetal, nickel with a copper core. The pennies are zinc with a copper coating.
    The silver certificate $1.00 bill which used to be redeemable at banks for a dollar in silver coin are generally no longer in circulation. Everything today is total phony money federale reserve notes. In any event, you can’t redeem them for a silver dollar at banks anyway.

    An interesting (at least to me) side note about silver is that during the big EPA push in the early 1990s to get toxic waste out of the wastewater stream, if one turned on the faucet in Reno NV and let it run down the drain, it exceeded the EPA standards for discharge of dissolved silver into the wastewater stream. The colloidal silver in the water was from all the natural silver in the mountains around Reno.

    I never did hear how that was resolved. Perhaps the federales, realizing that there was little they could do about it just gave up.

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  4. Miss Kitty July 27, 17:44

    Eating eggs with your grandma’s sterling will turn the silver black due to the reaction between the sulfur and silver. And it does give it a funny taste.
    I think I will stick to refrigeration for keeping my milk drinkable, but it is helpful to know the science behind the story.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck July 27, 21:43

      I usually buy milk a gallon at a time. On order to cut down on trips to the store I have started buying 4 half gallons of milk at a time and freezing it. It doesn’t affect the taste and keeps the mile fresh as long as needed. The extra cost of buying half gallons vs. whole gallons is offset by the reduced cost of the gasoline needed for the trip and the wear and tear on the vehicle.

      It’s a lot easier to store four half gallons of mile as opposed to trying to fit two one-gallon jugs of mile in the freezer.

      Reply to this comment
      • East Texas Richard August 6, 13:22

        Not only easier to store but we (not being big milk drinkers) usually lose a quart or so to souring when in the gallon jug so that’s another off set to the extra cost of buying half gallon jugs.

        Reply to this comment
  5. Rickity Rick July 27, 21:44

    the darkening tarnish of grandma’s silver is actually silver oxide, also a black compound. It oxidizes in the air.

    Reply to this comment
  6. IvyMike July 28, 01:14

    My thought is that if silver in any form was a useful antibiotic tens of thousands of people every year would not have died horrible deaths from strep and staph infections. which were only brought under control with penicillin and other modern antibiotics.
    Probiotics aren’t good bacteria, they are substances that supposedly enhance the growth of good bacteria. The so called good bacteria in the body are generally described as being in the gut, they are actually in the large intestine and vagina, out of the reach of probiotics, when they are wiped out by intense antibiotic treatment (rare) the only way to rebuild them is through direct transplant of healthy colonies of bacteria. In most cases, a regular healthy diet is all that is needed to restore symbiotic bacteria to beneficial levels.
    I’m like a child, I try everything out. I had a skin infection years ago and bought the most highly recommended colloidal silver there was, and it had no effect at all. Nystatin cream cured it in 3 days, and at 3$ for a 2 oz tube was a lot cheaper.

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  7. griffinaero July 28, 01:17

    Your condemnation of colloidal silver is woefully misinformed. Most importantly, silver ions do not survive the digestive juices to enter the biome of the intestines so that is not a problem. Until Big Pharma, silver nitrate was administered to newborn’s eyes to kill bacteria or viruses that would cause blindness. The smaller the silver particles, the more effective they are against both viruses and bacteria. To develop Argyria a person would have to deliberately massively overdose…it is the silver that the body is trying to excrete through the skin and gets trapped there. Normal doses are excreted easily otherwise.
    Colloidal silver is not expensive if made at home with simple cheap devices and should be used confidently for antibiotic needs. Please research this

    Reply to this comment
    • IvyMike July 29, 00:05

      I did. I always do my reading.

      Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck July 30, 01:26

      Yes, and mercury used to be used to cure syphilis lesions too and we don’t do that any more either.

      Silver nitrate in babies’ eyes was to prevent gonorrhea infection from the mother. Gonorrhea in a baby’s eyes will result in lifelong blindness.

      We may have to go back to using silver nitrate again because like so many other venereal diseases which are treated with a casualness that is appalling, gonorrhea is becoming antibiotic resistant.

      Currently silver nitrate is used to treat chronic nosebleed. It cauterizes the nasal tissue. That should tell you something about it.

      The whole problem I have with home brewed “cures” is that there is little to no quality control. When you mix up your home batch of jimsonweed cureall, are you using the same quantity leaves you used last time? Is the boil time to make the brew the exact same time as last time? What about the temperature rise on whatever heating element you are using? What about after brew storage? Same as last time or the time before?

      Brewing up your own home grown remedy leaves too many elements up to by guess and by gosh for me to put much reliance on them.

      Sure, in an end of the world situation, home brewed may be all there is and that is better than doing nothing. Until that time, however, I will stick to stuff that I am pretty sure is the same as the last batch that I took and leave home remedies in the area of an interesting hobby.

      The same with silver dollars in a bucket of water. How much water can one silver dollar clear of bacteria? By the way, was the silver dollar cleaned before it was tossed into the bucket of water? Remember, in the 19th century “germs” was a generally scoffed at theory. Lister was abused by the medical profession as a quack. It wasn’t until late in the 19th century that antiseptic practices actually started come into general acceptance.

      Even today, if you watch the medical personnel in the hospital, their observance of sanitary practices is pretty damned sketchy. Unfortunately, the last six years I have spent more time in hospitals than I really cared to and with not much to do, watching the hospital personnel as they go about their duties is quite enlightening. It is no wonder that several millions of patients in the U.S. come into the hospital infection free and manage to contract a serious infection. It is no wonder that several hundreds of thousands of those unlucky patients die from those infections each year too.

      So a silver dollar in a bucket of water might have been okay for my grandfather who fought with the Union Navy, but as for me, give me chlorine or give me boiling.

      Reply to this comment
  8. TheSouthernNationalist July 28, 15:10

    I think a better way to preserve milk would be to turn it into powered milk and keep it in mylar bags or glass jars with O2 absorbers.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Bill July 29, 00:29

    You have an error. The old silver coinage, refused to as junk silver is not usable but minted bullion coins are 99.9% or 99.99% pure silver. You can tell the difference because the bullion coins are stamped 1 troy oz. with the per vantage of silver.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck July 29, 17:13

      No, I was not mistaken. Old silver coinage does contain the silver percents that I mentioned. They trade at over face value right now. The reason they trade at over face value is because the silver content of the coins is worth more than the face value of the coins.

      For example in October 2019, the last time I checked silver prices a Roosevelt dime was worth $1.28 based on its silver content. If you purchased that dime from a dealer then it probably would have cost you in the neighborhood of $1.50. If you sold it, you probably would have received $1.00 for it.

      What the U.S. mint is selling now are collectible coins. That means they are sold for far more than the spot price of one ounce of silver in the market place. Compare the price of the one ounce coins to the spot price of silver and you will see that there is considerable mark-up in the price of the coin even taking into consideration the cost of the silver. You certainly aren’t going to get them for a dollar, nor the spot price of one ounce of silver.

      Countries have discovered that selling coins is a source of considerable income stream. The value of the U.S. one ounce silver dollar is that is that it is recognized that so far the U.S. mint is not cheating on the silver content — at least nobody has caught them at it yet. Some less reputable countries have been caught cheating on the reputed metal content of their coins. In the words, instead of being 99.99% silver as the U.S. “dollar” is, the foreign country’s one ounce silver coin was less than 99.99% silver as advertised. If you have an actual U.S. $1.00 silver coin, you don’t have to assay it to determine if it is the percent silver represented.

      Canadian silver coins contain the silver they are reputed to contain as Krugerrands contain the amount of pure gold that they are said to contain. The countries with the reputation for actual weight guard their reputation closely. Other countries, not quite as scrupulously.

      There are commercially produced one ounce rounds. They are reputed to be 99.99% silver but without the reputation of the U.S. mint behind them, in the marketplace, you may have to have the cost of an assay deducted from what you would realize from their sale. The coin may well weight one ounce, but it may not be 99.99% silver but have some base metal included in the one ounce weight.

      Even with “junk” silver, a badly worn coin won’t be worth the same as an unworn coin. A badly worn coin has had some of the silver removed by wear and thus won’t be the same weight as an unworn coin. By weighing the coin, knowing the weight of the silver in a newly minted coin, one can determine how much less silver is in the coin and the diminution of its value. Trade will be more time consuming after the EOTW.

      As with all collectibles, there is always the gamble factor. You are gambling that the collectible will gain more in value over the period of time you have held it than a similar amount of money invested in U.S. bonds or a similar “safe” investment.

      The smart collector started removing silver coins from circulation years ago and got them at face value rather than silver content value. I acquired all my silver in that manner, so while I have less than $100 face value in silver coins, nominally they are worth the spot price of silver less the purchaser’s markdown or markup, depending upon whether the seller wants to sell or the buyer wants to buy.

      The real value of junk silver is that it is a known quantity of silver and in an EOTW situation when paper money is only good for toilet paper the silver content of “junk” silver coins is what will make them valuable as a trade commodity.

      Coinage has been the medium of trade for eons. It made trade so much easier. Commodity trading only works if your fellow trader needs or can move what you have to trade.

      If you have corn to trade and want bullets in trade and I need corn but have no bullets, I have to find someone with bullets who wants something that I have to trade. That gets to be cumbersome very quickly. Having universally accepted coinage made free trade possible.

      In the early day of the U.S. the Spanish pieces of eight were a very common trade coin. It was delineated into eight pieces (pieces of eight whodda thunk?) You don’t hear it much any more but coins used to be referred to as two bits, four bits. Two bits was 25¢. Four bits was 50¢. Two bits was two segments of a piece of eight or a quarter dollar. Four bits was half of a piece of eight or a half dollar.

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  10. RDU Sue August 6, 02:42

    Wow so many people are missing the point here. It’s about a SHTF problem not current everyday usage. Everyone is an expert but can’t even see the reason for the information being given to begin with. These folks probably will be part of the 95% that will not survive because they already know it all and can’t be taught anything new.
    I did use a silver canadian maple leaf 1oz round and a piece of tape over a deep cut that should have been stitched and it did not get infected and surprisingly healed quickly. We were camping for a week and it’s all I had to use. So glad I had dropped the round in my bug out bag a few years back. yes, I rinsed it off with clean bottled water only (no soap).

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