Metals: Antibacertial Properties Explored
Ever think your jewelry could be antibacterial? It's probably not something we think too much about but with the outbreak of COVID-19 we're all wiping down surfaces and washing our hands more than ever before (I know I am!). In general, we know that certain metals have antibacterial properties like silver. Think your fork was originally made from silver because it looked good? More like silver has proven to have antibacterial properties and can "self-clean". Or how about those old fashioned copper tubs? Yep, copper can kill bacteria on its surface too.
Copper, silver, and zinc according to a study display the most antibacterial properties while stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium displayed the least. Brass is another metal that can prevent bacteria from multiplying. The study stated:
"Copper is an essential trace element but also antimicrobial and is used as a hygienic surface material in hospitals due to its ability to achieve contact kills (Grass et al., 2011). The antimicrobial activity of copper has been applied in medicine for centuries and has recently been shown to be effective in the control of pathogens such as Escherichia coli in the food industry (Noyce et al., 2006).
When immersed in broth suspensions, the copper coating displayed the greatest antibacterial potential as it achieved a 99% cell kill for all three bacterial species after one hour incubation and no bacteria were recoverable from the broth suspension three hours after incubation (Fig. 2). Silver showed the second greatest antimicrobial potential and achieved a 46%, 99% and 34% cell kill for S. aureus and E. coli and L. monocytogenes respectively after one hour incubation. Silver, unlike copper, achieved complete cell death for S. aureus after 5 h, for E. coli after 3 h incubation, and a 99% reduction of cell concentration for L. monocytogenes."
But what does this mean for your jewelry? Well, if you were worried about bacteria on your jewelry pieces you shouldn't fret if its silver, sterling silver, copper, or brass because they manage to disinfect themselves. One less thing to worry about having to disinfect and that's not a bad thing right now.