Silver’s anti-bacterial powers have been tested and proven scientifically even though its power as a bactericide has been known for centuries. The ancient Phoenicians, for example, knew that water, wine or vinegar kept in silver vessels stayed fresh during long sea voyages.
Only recently, however, have scientists discovered how the white metal does its work. Quite simply, silver interrupts a bacteria cell’s ability to form chemical bonds essential to its survival. These bonds produce the cell’s physical structure so bacteria in the presence of silver literally falls apart. Cells in humans and other animals have thick walls and are not disturbed by silver. Therefore, silver prevents bacteria growth but is harmless to humans.
One of the most important uses of silver as a biocide is in hospitals and other health care facilities because they grapple with MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a type of life-threatening Staph germ. Also referred to as a ‘superbug,’ MRSA is resistant to almost all chemical antibiotics, so many hospitals are employing silver-imbedded equipment including surgical tools, catheters, needles, stethoscopes, furniture, door handles and even paper files.
One of the most promising applications is in silver-imbedded bandages for burn and wound victims. The silver ions help prevent infection but also speed healing because the body doesn’t have to focus its energy on fighting infection.
Currently we’re seeing a surge of applications for silver-based biocides in all areas: industrial, commercial and consumer. New products are being introduced almost daily. Established companies are incorporating silver based products in current lines – clothing, refrigerators, mobile phones, computers, washing machines, vacuum clearers, keyboards, countertops, furniture handles and more. The newest trend is the use of nano-silver particles to deliver silver ions.
Source: The Silver Institute