When the early Greeks and Romans were wrapping their wounds with silver foil, the body fluids coming into contact with the silver oxidised the silver slightly. This leads to the release of silver ions and it was these ions that were attacking the bacteria and killing them.

In the same way, the water storage containers were slowly oxidising the silver and releasing silver ions, helping to keep the bacteria count in the water low. The royals of England were drinking wine, which has a very low pH, out of silver goblets and this was accelerating the release of silver ions into the wine and also into the food on the silver plates and cutlery. As they ingested these ions it helped to control not only bacteria but virus and fungus as well.

Silver ions inhibit the growth of bacteria by deactivating the bacteria’s oxygen metabolism enzymes. In turn, this destroys the bacteria’s cell membranes, stopping the replication of the bacteria’s DNA and preventing the bacteria from multiplying.