Silver is often viewed as second place behind gold, but silver is a very important element that we use in our daily lives. In this lesson, learn more about the properties of silver, where it can be found, and what it is used for.
What Is Silver?
Did you look in a mirror this morning to brush your teeth or do your hair? Then you can thank silver for giving you such a great reflection! Silver is used to make mirrors because it is the best known reflector of visible light.
A reflector is an object that can bounce back light or sound without absorbing it.Silver is also an element found on the periodic table. It has the atomic number of 47 and the symbol Ag. Those letters may seem strange, but they are for the Latin word argentum, which means ‘silver.’ Let’s learn more about silver!
What Does Silver Look Like?
Silver is a solid a room temperature. It is a shiny, soft, gray metal that is the best conductor of all the metals. A conductor is a material that allows heat and electricity to flow through it.
You will see how this comes in handy when we discuss what silver is used for. One frustrating thing about silver is that it reacts slowly with air over time. This makes objects made out of silver tarnish, or form a black coating on the surface.
You may have seen this on silver jewelry or silverware.
Where Can Silver Be Found?
Silver has been around for a very, very long time. Some historians believe that people have been using silver for over 5,000 years! Ancient mines have been found in both Turkey and Greece. It is also thought to have been mined by ancient civilizations in Central and South America. If you have ever heard of a mine, then you have probably guessed where silver can be found: under the ground! Silver can be found alone or combined with other metals in material called ores.
What Is Silver Used For?
Silver is used for many things we use each and every day. Here are a few examples:
- As mentioned earlier, silver is used to make mirrors reflective. This allows you to see your smiling face!
- Silver is very conductive, so it is used in batteries and circuits. Silver also helps your cell phone run.
- Some jewelry and silverware is made of sterling silver. This is an alloy of silver and some copper.
An alloy is a combination of two or more metals that make them stronger.
- Coins that are silver color used to be made with silver, but since it is expensive, now they are made of other metals like zinc and nickel.
- Silver is even woven into clothing. In athletic clothing, it helps prevent bacteria from eating your sweat and making you stink. In gloves, it is added to the fingertips to allow you to use a touchscreen device.
Silver is a very useful metal. It is a reflector and a conductor, which makes it great for mirrors and batteries. On the periodic table, silver has the atomic number of 47 and the symbol Ag.