Silver vs. Copper – Which is the Best Antimicrobial Metal?

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It’s somewhat common knowledge that silver has antimicrobial qualities; however, gold and copper also boast these qualities. Every one of these metals is an elemental one, and they each share the Oligodynamic effect. This is the biocidal effect of metals in which ions are released, leading to the covalent bonding of proteins. From this, the cell’s ability to replicate or function is disrupted.

Ultimately, metals have the capacity to play a huge role in our survival. This isn’t regarding the likes of a steel box section, but silver and copper can make a real difference when it comes to health, safety, and well-being.

The effectiveness of copper stems from much more than just its Oligodynamic effect. In fact, copper has another mechanism of action against microbes, which is its ability to release an electron, resulting in a reactive oxygen species. This species can be particularly lethal to bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Read on to discover just how silver and copper compare to one another.

The Impact of Humid Environments

Firstly, the effect of humid environments on these metals needs to be discussed. As far as silver is concerned, low humidity reduces its efficacy. In contrast, though, copper maintains its efficacy regardless of the humidity conditions.

The Impact of Extreme Temperatures

Copper A bunch of copper metal wires is placed around each other

Next up is extreme temperatures, which affect different metals in different ways. For instance, low temperatures reduce the efficacy of silver. Meanwhile, copper maintains its efficacy regardless of temperature.

The Impact of a Sweaty Environment

Following this, both metals are impacted by sweaty environments; however, silver is affected negatively, whereas copper is affected positively. For instance, sweaty environments diminish the efficacy of silver, while the efficacy of copper is enhanced by sweaty environments.


Similarly, each metal boasts a different level of durability. For example, the durability of silver depends on the type of treatment; that said, it’s still not as durable as copper. This is because copper has high durability regardless of treatment due to its solubility.

The Role in the Human Body

You may be surprised to learn that some metals play an integral role in our bodies. Unfortunately for silver, it isn’t one of those metals that our bodies rely on. Copper, on the other hand, enhances wound healing, improves skin elasticity, and is an essential micronutrient.

Mode of Action

Silver coin A silver coin and watch are made of silver

Regarding mode of action, silver is, in fact, a metal ion. Likewise, copper is also a metal ion; however, it is a reactive oxygen species, too.


Perhaps the most important factor to consider about this pair of metals is their respective efficacy. There’s no denying that silver is an effective antimicrobial metal; however, it isn’t always effective against fungal spores, other forms of fungi, or viruses. Once again, copper has the upper hand for this feature, as it is effective against a wide spectrum of microbes. This includes the fungal spores, other fungi, viruses, and bacteria that silver isn’t equipped to handle.

EPA Public Health Claims

Last but not least, in order to assess the credibility of each metal, EPA Public Health will make claims. In fact, there have been multiple claims by them about the efficacy of copper. Despite this, there have been zero regarding the efficacy of silver.

The Verdict

It’s fair to say that copper is the antimicrobial metal that takes the cake for this one. Therefore, anyone looking to kit out an environment in which health, safety, and well-being are paramount might consider copper as a primary metal. These environments include hospitals, food preparation spaces, childcare spaces, or anywhere else where someone’s health may be at risk. 

In : Blog, Survival

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Learn More About Being a Survivalist. My name is Jack and my blog is a great way to get new and useful tips on how to get your house ready for anything, whether its a terrible storm or a really long power outage.

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