Is Copper-silver the Best Disinfection Method for Potable Water?

Did you know that metals such as copper and silver can be used for water treatment when ionized?

In fact, copper-silver ionization is one of the oldest and most effective water disinfection solutions that we are aware of.

Archaeological research shows that copper has been used to treat water for more than 10,000 years, and silver for at least 5,000 years. In the past, the Vikings used copper strings to prevent algae on their ships, and the Greeks and Romans have carried water in silver containers.

One of the best advantages of copper-silver ionization vs chlorine is that the method is both non-toxic and non-corrosive, which means no damage to your plumbing and water distribution system.

Copper-silver ionization treats the water through a process called electrolysis. In this chemical reaction, an electric current is created through copper-silver, causing positively charged copper and silver ions to form.

Electrically charged copper-silver ions then search for particles of opposite polarity in the water, which includes bacteria – Legionella also-, viruses, and fungi. Electrostatic compounds are formed between positively charged copper ions and the negative walls of microorganisms, allowing the silver ions to punch through the core of the microorganism, immobilizing DNA, cellular proteins, enzymes and everything else that a cell needs in order to survive.

As a result, bacteria die, but the ions remain in the system until they precipitate or are absorbed again by another microorganism. This is particularly interesting because copper and silver ions have a residual effect, providing long-term protection and preventing the system from being contaminated again.  

Copper and silver ions are then removed from water by a filtration system.


In the United States, copper-silver ionization can be used as a complete alternative for chlorine in potable water and reducing up to 80% the amount of chemicals you need to add to your system in process water. By adopting this water treatment solution, you will save a lot of money with energy, chemicals, maintenance, operation, transport, and storage. 

There are three main disinfection applications for copper-silver ionization water treatment in the United States:

1. Drinking water

Potable water production companies use copper-silver ionization as an alternative for chlorine disinfection, which is an effective strategy to prevent the formation of disinfection byproducts.

2. Cooling Towers (HVAC)

Copper-silver ionization cleans the water in the cooling tower protecting the equipment and the entire hydronic system as a consequence.

3. Hospitals and nursing homes

Copper-silver ionization is a great, if not the best way to protect patients from being exposed to high levels of Legionella. Warm water systems are the ideal environment for bacteria to grow and multiply.  Copper-silver ionization has the power to deactivate and to kill the bacteria. A copper-silver scientific study from 2000 has shown astounding results for this industry.

What are the most important factors to ensure the success of the copper-silver ionization method?

  • The concentration of copper and silver ions: flow, volume, water conductivity and concentration of microorganisms will determine the proper concentration.
  • Quality of the electrodes: pure silver and pure copper guarantee a much better result due to less limestone formation.
  • Chlorine level in the water: when the level is high, there is an effect called silverchlorine formation, a reaction between silver ions and chlorine. If this happens, silver ions will no longer be available to perform disinfection.

Want to know more about this type of water treatment? Then download the visual map we put together for you!

copper silver ionization map