Is Silver Safe to Use in Humidifiers?

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Steam infused with silver can potentially have anti-microbial properties.

When cold weather comes around, it often brings dry air with it. A humidifier can help moisten the air, and the addition of colloidal silver, either in a filter or added directly to the water, might help remove bacteria, viruses and other microbes from the air. Using silver with a humidifier is technically safe, though the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate or recommend the product.


Colloidal silver is simply small silver particles suspended in a liquid, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states. While silver is in many products, water and food sources, colloidal silver provides a concentrated amount. Most colloidal silver is taken orally, though some people apply it topically or inject it into veins. When used with a humidifier, a small amount is poured into the reservoir.


Though there is no scientific evidence that colloidal silver benefits its users, its manufacturers are quick to tout its health benefits. Silver does have antimicrobial properties, and colloidal silver users claim that it can reduce bacteria and treat many conditions. Manufacturers also claim that the product boosts immunity. When used with a humidifier, the colloidal silver combines the benefits of a humidifier with the supposed benefits of silver. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which can keep mucus passages clear and clean, especially in the cooler months. Humidifier manufacturers claim that the warm mist can help ease allergy and asthma symptoms, as well as help ease the common cold and flu symptoms.


Some manufacturers make humidifiers with silver filters already inside. They claim that they inhibit microbial growth in the humidifier; however, the filters have to be replaced every year and the humidifiers themselves can be expensive, costing approximately $200. Another option is to purchase a basic humidifier and add 4 to 5 oz. of colloidal silver to the reservoir. Add more silver every time you change the water or add water to the humidifier.


The NCCAM states that the Food and Drug Administration claims that colloidal silver is not effective for treating any condition. In addition, both the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission, are looking into claims that several colloidal silver companies have made about the potential health benefits of their products. Excessive use of colloidal silver can cause argyria, a blue discoloration of the skin. Speak with your doctor about using colloidal silver, and be sure to mention its use with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any other drugs or supplements.


Katie Tonarely

Katie Tonarely started writing professionally in 2008. Her work appears in the Springfield "News-Leader" and she provides consumer-related content for various websites. Tonarely received a Bachelor of Arts in English education with a minor in journalism from Evangel University in Springfield, Mo.