An enterprising Chilean businessman has come up with a novel application for Chile’s biggest export, securing a patent for a copper-plated comb. Victor Escudero claims that the copper combs help to reduce hair loss, split ends and greasy hair.
And Chile’s mining minister, Hernán de Solminihac, has lent his support to the product after testing it on himself at a Santiago barbershop earlier this week.
“Great inventions are the ones that solve problems in the simplest ways,” the minister told local paper La Tercera.
“And if it is made using copper, whose antibacterial properties are recognized around the world, then here we have another innovative product that will open the doors to a new market for the red metal.”
The Chilean newspaper reported that Escudero researched and worked on the comb’s design for eight years. The inventor said the high electrical conductivity of copper enables the comb to discharge the static electricity generated by regular combs, reducing the incidence of split ends.
He added that the oxidized film that forms on copper surfaces when the metal comes in contact with air and moisture creates a toxic environment for microorganisms and the fungus that causes greasy hair.
In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially recognized that certain copper alloys have proven antibacterial effects. The finding allowed manufacturers to market the antibacterial features of products made from recognized alloys.
Recent studies also suggest that copper may produce a range of other positive health outcomes, such as stimulating brain function and reducing the symptoms of arthritis.
The malleable metal is Chile’s most successful export product, accounting for US$22.1 billion of revenue in the first half of 2011.
Chile’s state owned copper mining company Codelco assisted Escudero with his research of copper’s health benefits.