Silver has been used for centuries in the fight against disease and infection. From treating burns to wiping out superbugs, it is well known for its ability to kill some of the microbes that make us sick. But how does it work?
What do medical dressings and the International Space Station have in common? Perhaps surprisingly, both use silver for its antimicrobial properties.
Ancient civilisations used the metal to treat open wounds, while American pioneers knew to throw silver coins in barrels to keep supplies of water fresh.
Silver is a natural biocide, meaning it is toxic to bacteria, algae and fungi. This means that a set of silver spoons will naturally self-clean. And on porous surfaces, such as carpets and bedding, silver ions are toxic to viruses.
Puralife Clean Skins use silver ion technology to reduce the transmission of germs in high-traffic areas. But how does this work?
What’s a silver ion?
Silver ions are atoms of silver from which one or more electrons have been lost. These ions carry a positive charge, which attracts them to negatively charged microbe cells.
The silver ions punch holes in the microbe’s membrane and cause havoc once inside by:
- Damaging the microbe’s DNA and protein structure
- Halting the cell’s metabolism
- Preventing the cell’s ability to reproduce
- Recent research also shows that once dead, microbes continue to soak up silver, making them lethal to nearby healthy bacteria
This means that silver ion technology, while not providing the instant disinfecting properties of bleach, is able to provide constant antimicrobial support over time. And, as silver is a naturally occurring element with low levels of toxicity, it can do this in a range of environments without any side effects.
Did you know? During a four-month study in two outpatient units there was a 96% bacteria reduction in the unit that used products coated with silver ion technology.
How to use silver ions
Silver technology has come a long way since the days of using coins to keep water fresh.
Today silver ions are incorporated into a range of materials to offer long-term protection against microbial growth.
It is worth noting that disinfectant needs to be used every couple of hours to keep microbes under control, which means silver ion technology is a durable way to offer continual microbial reduction on surfaces.
Did you know? Microbes are the cause of a quarter of all deaths globally