This thread is a Do It Yourself guide showing just how EASY and INEXPENSIVE it is to create a simple device that can be used to make COLLOIDAL SILVER, which is also a very simple process.
We then use colloidal silver to ultimately create FEMINISED SEEDS (seeds which can only grow into females), and that again is also a simple process! So read on - you'll be surprised how EASY all this is!
Don't be put off by the size of this post or its many thread replies - this really is very, very simple stuff.
This thread is currently the 9th most-viewed thread of all time here in the Growers Forum :]
I originally posted this in mid 2007. Back then not many growers knew about colloidal silver, and there were only two or three seedbanks offering feminised seeds, but as a group we've learned a lot more since then, thanks to people posting their own results with varying approaches, and we've even blown away a few myths along the way!!!
So now in late 2009/2010 I've updated it, and yes I'm still having 100% success with this method. Obviously I did not discover this feminisation technique, nor did I invent how to create colloidal silver, but I do feel a little warmfuzzy in the heart knowing that this thread has since helped open the eyes of tens of thousands of icmag growers to show them just how EASY this is - this is my small contribution to the cannabis community
► What is colloidal silver? aka. ionic silver
SIMPLE: Colloidal silver is microparticles of silver (the pure element) suspended via electrolysis (so, silver ions) in pure distilled water. It is very simple and inexpensive to make, and that is explained later.
TECHNICAL: A colloid is a type of chemical mixture in which one substance is dispersed evenly throughout another. It is pure, metallic silver, in particles of 15 atoms or fewer, each with a positive electric charge and attached to a molecule of a simple protein. These electrically charged particles of silver are extremely small, usually ranging from about 0.001 to about 0.01 microns in diameter, and are suspended in deionized water. The force of the electric charge is stronger than the force of gravity, so the silver particles remain suspended. Some people actually drink colloidal silver for its supposed antimicrobacterial properties, but I wouldn't recommend drinking home-made CS unless you've done your homework, and have a PPM meter - excessive consumption of silver can lead to a condition called argyria, and your skin can actually turn blue
► How do we use it to create feminised seeds?
The silver ions in colloidal silver act as an ethylene inhibitor/antagonist which forces female plants to produce male flowers that have pollen that has only female chromosomes.
Treatments which reduce the ethylene level in the tissues (hypo-baric conditions, treatment with benzothiodiazole) or antagonize the action of ethylene (CO2) cause the formation of male or bisexual flowers in place of female ones (Byers et al. 1972)
We simply use a regular empty spray bottle ($2 at your local shop) to spray it onto the leaves of a known-female plant to induce the pollen. This resulting 'feminised pollen', unlike regular pollen from a male, comes from a female so it doesn't have male chromosomes. As a result, any females then pollinated with the feminised pollen produce seeds that can only grow into females.
We can even use a mother from a "CLONE-ONLY" strain for this (allowing us to create a 'back catalog' of seeds), or even a female grown from a feminised seed - all that's important is that it's a female plant.
► Recommended reading:
Induction of Fertile Male Flowers in Female Cannabis (Uni paper on feminised seeds)
H.Y. Mohan Ram and R. Sett. Department of Botany, University of Delhi, Delhi (India)
► Do feminised seeds grow into hermaphrodites?
Basically, NO. However this is one thing that needs clarification because there seems to be a lot of misconjecture about it.
Whether you're using regular pollen or feminised pollen it doesn't matter, the same rule applies - always try to target females that are 'hermie-resistant', because you don't want that trait passed down to the offspring. In other words, hermie issues aren't a result of feminised pollen, but a result of a mother that has hermaphroditic tendencies, either naturally, as a result of stress, or both.
Some plants are more susceptible to stress than others, and thus more prone to "go hermie" (for example by heat stress or light leaks, and some strains are simply more prone than others to grow a few hermaphrodites even when conditions are ideal). If a female does throw off a few pollen bananas then yes you can use that pollen to create feminised seeds, either by self-pollenating the mother itself or by pollenating other females (the latter being the more recommended route). However, if you use a mother that has hermaphroditic tendencies then that trait can be passed onto the offspring.
This is why when breeding for feminised seeds we look for a 'strong female', one that doesn't throw off pollen bananas very easily, so as to ensure the resulting offspring are also strong. We then FORCE the stress-resistant female to induce the creation of pollen by using colloidal silver, allowing us to get pollen even from a female that we otherwise wouldn't have been able to achieve using conventional methods such as rhodelization or light poisoning.
This is why I don't recommend using light poisoning or heat stress or similar stress methods to produce bananas, because that low stress tolerance will be passed down to the resulting seeds, resulting in plants that could hermie in a less than an ideal environment. By using CS we have the luxury of choosing a plant that's stress resistant, and still be able to force it to produce pollen thanks to the CS (as opposed to stress). It's no different for when you're creating regular seeds - you want strong mothers that can handle a bit of stress.
Actually the only hermaphrodite I've ever grown was from a regular seed - I've had 100% success with every feminised seed I've grown, and approx 1 in 2 seeds I grow are feminised (giving me a roughly 75:25 female:male ratio, as opposed to 50:50 with regular seeds).
► Why colloidal silver (CS)?
Well, you can also use silver theosulphate aka STS (which is silver nitrate + sodium theosulphate), silver nitrate (which is silver + nitric acid), or gibberellic acid, all of which have proven successful in this task, but colloidal silver is non-toxic, non-caustic, easy and safe and inexpensive to make at home, doesn't require a DEA request form, and isn't a controlled substance. You can even purchase colloidal silver from your local drugstore/pharmacy (some people drink it for its supposed health benefits), but it's inexpensive and easy enough to make at home. It is also the most accessible: all you need is silver, and distilled water. (A LOT easier to obtain than STS or GA, and cheaper!)
► What about other feminisation techniques?
For mine, colloidal silver is second to none. Colloidal silver acts as ethylene inhibitor/antagonist, allowing us to conveniently force the process at any time we choose, even on hardy stress-resistant plants (CS doesn't use stress to perform its magic).
Besides using ethylene antagonists such as colloidal silver, silver nitrate, silver theosulphate, gibberellic acid etc, there are basically only two alternative ways to "reverse a female" (technically a wrong expression, but seems common enough!) ...
Stress can trigger a female to throw off a few bananas, and techniques such as "light poisoning" can be used. This requires that the plant is susceptible to hermaphroditism, and doesn't work with all strains. Resulting offspring used from the feminised pollen may exhibit hermaphroditic tendencies.
This is the name the breeder Soma gave to the process by where a very mature female at the end of her life throws off a few pollen bananas. This resulting pollen is feminised, but as if it had been induced by old age rather than CS. This doesn't always happen, it takes a very long time for it to happen, it usually requires taking a female beyond her usual harvest window, and it doesn't result in much pollen at all, so it's very much hit-and-miss unfortunately.
► Is this method a threat to the seed banks?
No more than regular seeds are. You can buy a $20 pack of 10 seeds, grow out a male and a female and create HUNDREDS of regular seeds just from the two plants. You could then go on and sell those if you chose, so right there lays the main 'threat' to seed banks - anybody can grab their work and make copies of it. "Strain piracy" if you will.
Feminised seeds are no different in that respect, they're just made differently that's all, and you at home can make them just as you can make regular seeds. Actually in 2007 there were only three or so seedbanks offering feminised seeds - now in 2009 nearly every second seedbank offers them, and I can't help but wonder if at least some of those feminised seeds being available now is a direct result of this thread!
► How is colloidal silver made?
You simply pass a small electric current through distilled water using a pure silver electrode (im using coins - it doesn't really matter what it is as long as it's pure silver). That is essentially all there is to it. Contrary to popular belief, distilled water will conduct a small amount of electricity, allowing production of micro particulate colloidal silver. Sound technical? Don't worry, it's actually very simple.
► So how do I make a colloidal silver generator?
It's so easy, this photo
alone is probably self-explanatory enough...
YOU WILL NEED:
1. A POWER ADAPTER - like the one your internet modem uses (9 or 12 volt is ideal),
a BATTERY such as 9V. Some people have used higher voltages with success including 30V, which probably accomplishes the same job but in less time.
2. DISTILLED WATER. You don't need much (half a litre/15 ounces should be enough for 2 or so plants) and it's inexpensive, so just buy a bottle from your local supermarket. Use tap water at your own peril.
3. PURE SILVER (that is .999% or .9999%). Silver (unlike gold) is inexpensive, and you can buy it from ebay, your local mint (where i got my coins), or a coin dealership/trader. If you have strong metal-cutting scissors you can just buy 1 coin and cut it into halves or quarters, otherwise buy 2 coins. Many people have use silver wire with success - it doesn't really matter what the physical shape of the silver is, as long as it's pure.
4. (Optional) 2 x alligator clips. These are not needed
, but adds a nice finishing touch and more importantly makes the setup a LOT easier to use and handle. You'll obviously need a soldering iron if you want to attach them, although I guess you could just wind the wire around them if the contact is ok. Don't use old rusty clips because we're after good electrolysis. They're very cheap so just go to your local hardware store.
IF you don't use alligator clips you'll probably have to drill a hole into the silver coin so you can thread the wire through and wrap it around (example
If you're using silver wire as the electrode you can probably intertwine them for a good connection.
1. Cut the end off the wire with a pair of scissors, you can discard that bit.
2. Split the main wire into its two smaller wires (positive/negative), you might need scissors or a knife to start it but then it should easily pull apart.
3. Use some wire cutters to strip the ends off the two wires to expose an inch or two of raw wire.
4. Solder the alligator clips onto the raw wire. Congratulations, you're done! Easy huh? If you don't have a soldering iron try asking your friends, worked for me!
► Can't I just use tap water instead of distilled?
Distilled water is pure H2O. Tap water on the other hand is a soup - here's just a very short and incomplete list of some of the things you'll find in a typical analysis:
METALS - including aluminium, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, potassium, selenium, sodium, thallium, zinc
INORGANICS - including chlorine, nitrite, nitrate, fluoride, sulfate, phosphorus, percholate
PESTICIDES - far too many to even bother listing
VOLATILE ORGANICS - things like benzene, trichlorethane, chlorobenzene, ethylbenzene etc etc
RADIONUCLIDES - including alpha, beta, and Radium 228
MICROBIOLOGICAL - things like cryptosporidium
The metals in particular can react when passing electric current through the water, and I'd imagine quite easily react with the silver we're charging from one piece of silver to the next, turning it from the silver element (which we need) into various alloys (most if not all of which would be useless in regards to our needs). The resulting colloid may even be toxic to your plants.
It also affects the quality of the electrolysis because instead of passing current through pure water and ending up with colloidal silver and silver oxide we're now passing it through 'soup', and ending up with god knows what else.
This is also why we need to use pure silver - one person from this thread used distilled water but his silver wasn't pure, and his resulting colloid was blue! I would assume that's from copper reacting during the electrolysis; copper is used in fireworks to create blue.
Distilled water is inexpensive, you can get it from any supermarket where you get groceries, and you don't need much of it - one large bottle is usually enough to reverse a few plants, so it just makes no sense at all to use tap water.
► WOOHOO!!! I've made my first CS generator, now how do I make CS with it?
I use a large glass jar as that won't react/interfere with the electrolysis (be aware that whatever you use will get relatively permanently stained by the CS residue). Fill it up with about 1 litre of distilled water. Attach the alligator clips to your silver (or wrap the wire around it if not using clips), and allow the silver to hang in the water. You ONLY want the silver touching the water - not the alligator clips/wire (this is where alligator clips make it easier).
It is apparently best if the water is still, so do not use air pumps. A fellow icmagger explains why later in this thread here
It's also recommended to change the polarity every couple of hours - to do this simply switch the silver.
The basic setup looks something like this (here using a battery instead of power adapter, but same result):
It's funny when you switch the generator on for the very first time because there seems to be nothing happening - there's no noise, and nothing visual, but if you come back in an hour or so you'll see the effect on the silver - one electrode will start getting silver 'tailings' (silver oxide i assume), and the other will have tiny bubbles (hydrogen i'm assuming). One of the silver pieces will look different from the other, as the electrically charged silver particles are being driven from one to the other. Anyway simply let it run overnight (12-24 hours) and you're done! Pour it into a spray bottle and you're ready to go. I recommend you clean your silver immediately afterwards (a wire scrubbing brush works well, or coarse sandpaper).
We're aiming for a solution that's at least 15ppm or more - it seems that with weaker solutions we can end up with male flowers that have little or no viable pollen, so if you do make it yourself get yourself a PPM/TDS meter, they're not expensive.
IMPORTANT: KEEP COLLOIDAL SILVER AWAY FROM LIGHT.
Not for safety reasons, but because light deteriorates it as it is photosensitive and turns it into a dark silvery gray, so store it in the dark, at room temperature, and try to run your CS generator in a dark room.
Also, after the grow don't forget to thoroughly wash out the grow pot and collander etc that was used after you're finished, as you don't want to transfer any residual silver to your next grow.
It's also advised to strain the resulting colloid with a fine strain such as a coffee strainer or even a womans stocking, even several times during the process to remove the film residue. Don't worry - this won't affect the strength of the colloid because we're simply removing the residue, not any of the electrically-suspended silver microparticles (which is all we care about).
We're working with electricity + water here, so general electrical safety rules apply! BUT there doesn't seem to be any major cause for concern -- if you're using a 9V battery, or even a 9V power adapter plugged into the wall then it seems the general consensus is all you'll get is a mild 9V zap if you touch it while it's in operation. The main concern is keeping the positive and negative apart, or else you'll end up frying the battery/power adapter. I'm not an electrician so I asked others for their input in regards to this, so I thank everyone in this
thread for their feedback in regards to that. It goes without saying that whenever you undertake an electrical project such as this you do so at your own risk, and I will not be held responsible if anything goes wrong. Just follow the directions, use common sense, and like everybody else in this thread you'll have success, safely.
► When should I start spraying the target female with CS?
In the past it has been recommended that you start spraying two weeks before going into 12/12 flowering, and continue spraying until you start seeing pollen develop. This is still the recommended way. However, we now know that it isn't necessary to spray so early. I applied colloidal silver to a female that had been flowering for over 4 weeks, and I only sprayed for 10 days, but still ended up with a plant full
of pollen. However you wouldn't want to leave it much later than that.
The main thing that's important is that you know the plant is a female, so if you're not sure your plant is a female then YES you can actually wait until you see pistils to confirm that before starting to apply CS.
► How long do I spray for?
At least one grower from this thread has reported success with just 5 days of spraying, and I've had success from just 10 days, but generally about 2 weeks should be enough. Obviously factors such as the strength of the colloid, how much you spray, and how frequently you spray all play a part. You can if you like keep spraying until you start seeing pollen bananas starting to show, but it generally takes a few weeks before you see them - be patient. It will also vary depending on how many times a day you spray them, as well as the strength of your silver colloid.
It also goes without saying that once you've sprayed a plant with colloidal silver (or silver theosulphate, or gibberellic acid, etc) the plant becomes a write-off in terms of smoking it. It can be used to create feminised pollen, as well as seeds (it can still be pollinated - see next question), but you should not smoke any of it. Even a thorough wash with a hose won't help, because the silver microparticles are absorbed into the plant via the foliar feeding.
It's not uncommon for the feminised pollen bananas to remain closed - if that's the case simply cut them off and manually open them (some people have used a grinder with success, although this may damage some of the pollen). You can then simply brush them against the pistils of the target female (manual pollenation).
Last but not least - BE PATIENT!!! ... It won't happen overnight
, but it will happen™.
► Self-pollenation: Creating feminised seeds using nothing but one single female plant
By creating feminised pollen on a female plant you can actually then use that pollen to pollenate itself (it naturally will to some extent, but manual extraction & pollenation would yield a better coverage). I'd allow the female to flower for a couple weeks (until some viable pistils have formed) before starting to apply CS so that you've got some decent buds as targets to apply the pollen to.
This also happens in nature (for example when a plant is stressed or very old ie. rhodelization), where a female throws off some banana pods and some of it pollenates itself - it's something of a species survival mechanism I guess.
However, you will NOT get many seeds this way (you may not even get any without manual pollenation), and sex between TWO parties is the norm in life, so personally I'd always try to use a second (or more) female(s) to target with the feminised pollen, and only use self-pollenation if i didn't really have any other choice.
But maybe the selfed seeds would grow out even more clone-like? I'm not sure, i've always used a 2nd female.
Using a second female that is an identical clone of the CS'd plant would result in the same seeds as if it were selfed, but you'd probably get more seeds from it seeing as isn't under the duress of CS.
► Can I pollenate the CS'd female with regular pollen?
Yes. This actually allows you to get regular seeds from the target CS'd female, AND feminised pollen from it as well. I don't know of anybody else who's tried this and I've only done it once myself - I sprayed for 10 days with colloidal silver, then a couple days later I manually applied regular pollen to the budsites. The plant went on to produce a lot of pollen bananas, as well as a healthy amount of regular seeds. The only thing to keep in mind with that however is that there's a chance that some of those seeds may be feminised due to self-pollination, and there's really no way to tell which seed is which.
► What are the things that can cause it to fail?
Colloidal silver is so easy to make, and use, and it allows us to FORCE even the hardiest of strains into submission, so the entire system is very simple, and very effective if you follow the basics ... but if you DON'T, you can get it all wrong. If you've made or used colloidal silver yet failed to reverse a plant, there's a good chance you've simply overlooked one simple element of the procedure ...
The main problems caused when making colloidal silver are:
- not using pure (distilled) water
- not giving electrolysis enough time (resulting in a weak solution)
- not using pure (999/.9999) silver.
NOTE: One user has reported successful sex reversal from using solder (60% silver), and another has reported success with .925 silver (the rest being mostly copper). While it is promising that these two both had success at using a silver compound
, it is not understood what adverse reactions (if any) other metals will have on the plant or its offspring, and pure .999 silver is cheap and easy to obtain, so there's no need to gamble.
The main problems caused by the spraying of CS onto the plants are:
- not spraying with a strong-enough solution
- not spraying thoroughly enough (we want to drench the whole plant)
- not spraying regularly enough (we want to spray at least once a day, but the more the better! aim for at least 3 sprays per day)
- not spraying for long enough (some hardy strains may need over 2-3 weeks spraying)
► Doubt it works? Fully documented experiment from start-to-end ...
Fellow ICMag user High Country
was also doubtful, but wanted to preserve his clone-only strain High Country Indica
, so he gave colloidal silver a go. High Country Indica
is a highly stress-resistant strain - an ideal candidate to test the reversing powers of colloidal silver. High Country fully photo-documented every stage of the process, from the generation of colloidal silver all the way through to growing out the resulting seeds and getting 100% females.
You can read his photo-documented experiment at this thread
(starting from page 27) - it's a long read but very thorough, and takes you through the entire process from start (making CS) to finish (growing 100% females from the feminised seeds).
► Photos of CS Generators
Here's just a few photos posted in this thread of colloidal silver generators made by fellow ICMag'ers...
K Double P
There's even a commercial one based on a 9V battery called "The Mini CS", which again shows just how simple this is (but they charge $49 for it!!!)
The Mini CS
Firstly thankyou to everybody who has posted feedback with their results, and photos of their homemade CS generators and females full of pollen balls! Especially thanks to those who've done a bit of EXPERIMENTING with various aspects of the process and posted their results - WE CAN NEVER LEARN TOO MUCH!
A very special mention must go to GOLDKING
, for without them this thread would not exist. They'd both had previous experience and success with CS, so I thank Goldking for 'opening the door' to make me realise how easy it was, and then Cedarberry for helping me make sense of the electronics stage of it which allowed me to build my own CS generator, and then this thread. And thanks to my mate John for the soldering! The rest as they say is history...