Copper (Cu)

About Copper (CU):

The story of copper and its principal alloys, bronze and brass, is virtually a chronicle of human endeavor since man emerged from the Stone Age. Copper is a mineral and an element essential to our everyday lives. It is a major industrial metal because of its high ductility, malleability, thermal and electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion. The copper metals and their contribution to every civilization since Sumeria and Pre-Dynastic Egypt gives them a unique position in the history of technology.

Copper has been used since ancient times and its alloys include brass and bronze. It is used to make coins and is found in many appliances we use everyday. You will find below its unique properties with our interesting facts about copper.

Known land-based resources of copper are estimated to be 1.6 billion metric tons of copper (USGS, 2004). United States copper production largely comes from deposits in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana. Twenty mines account for about 99% of production.

Some interesting FACTS about Copper:

  • Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and an atomic number of 29.
  • Copper has a melting point of 1,984.28 °F (1,084.6 °C) and a boiling point of 4,643.6 °F (2,562 °C).
  • The word copper and its symbol Cu come from the Latin word for Cyprus "Cuprum", where the Ancient Romans mined much of their copper.
  • Pure copper is red-orange in color. When it is exposed to air it darkens to a brown color and if exposed to air and water, it becomes a blue-green color called verdigris.
  • The only two metals used by humans before copper were gold and meteoric iron.
  • Copper is believed to have been in use since ancient times over 10,000 years ago.
  • Small amounts of copper can be found in a natural state while the metal is also found in minerals such as cuprite, malachite, azurite, chalcopyrite and bornite.
  • Copper is an essential nutrient to all living organisms.
  • Copper deficiency in the human body is as big an health issue as iron deficiency.
  • Foods rich in copper include oysters, beef, nuts, cocoa, black pepper, lobster, sunflower seeds, green olives, avocados, and wheat.
  • Due to its versatility and durability, copper is referred to as "man's eternal metal".
  • Numerous important copper alloys have been produced over human history. Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc, bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. While cupronickel is a combination of copper and nickel.
  • 60% of copper is used in electrical wiring, 20% is used in roofing and household plumbing, while 15% is used in the making of industrial machinery.
  • Copper is used in the making of coins for a number of countries. Coins in the U. S. contain a solid copper core and layer of copper-nickel alloy.
  • Copper is also found in TVs, radios, washers, dryers and some cookware.
  • Over 81,000 kgs (179,000 lbs) of copper was used to build The Statue of Liberty.
  • Copper is a natural antibacterial. To prevent the spread of bacteria, brass doorknobs and handrails are often used in public buildings.
  • Because bacteria will not grow on it, copper has been used for centuries to line parts of ships so that barnacles and mussels do not stick to the boats.
  • Nearly 80% of all the copper we have ever produced is still in use today due to the fact that copper is 100% recyclable and retains 95% of its original value.
  • Copper is a plentiful natural resource on Earth. At the current rate of extraction there is enough copper in the top kilometer of the Earths crust to meet demand for 5 million years.
  • A mine in Sweden called "The Great Copper Mountain" operated from the 10th century to 1992. It produced two thirds of Europe's copper requirements in the 17th century.


Chemical Facts About Copper:

Atomic Symbol:Cu
Atomic Number:29
Electron Configuration: [Ar]4s13d10
Key isotopes 63Cu
Relative atomic mass 63.546
State at 20°C Solid
Electron configuration [Ar] 3d104s1
Melting Point: 1,984.32 degrees Fahrenheit or 1,084.62 degrees Celsius
Boiling Point: 5,301 degrees F or 2,927 degrees C
Density (g cm-3) 8.96
Crystal Structure: Cubic
Atomic Weight: 63.55
Oxidation States: 2, 1
Date of Discovery: Unknown
Name Origin: From the Latin word Cyprium, after the island of Cyprus
CAS number 7440-50-8
ChemSpider ID 22414



IsotopeHalf Life
Cu-613.4 hours
9.7 minutes
12.7 hours
2.6 days



Copper occasionally occurs natively, and is found in many minerals such as cuprite, malachite, azurite, chalcopyrite, and bornite. Large copper ore deposits are found in the U.S., Chile, Zambia, Zaire, Peru, and Canada. The most important copper ores are the sulfides, the oxides, and carbonates. From these, copper is obtained by smelting, leaching, and by electrolysis.


Building construction accounts for nearly half of all copper use. Residential construction is about two-thirds of the building construction market. The following figures are based on a single-family home of about 2,100 sq.ft. and a multifamily unit of about 1,000 sq.ft.


In an average single-family home, you will find about:
195 poundsbuilding wire
151 poundsplumbing tube, fittings, valves
24 poundsplumbers' brass goods
47 poundsbuilt-in appliances
12 poundsbuilders hardware
10 poundsother wire and tube
An average multifamily unit uses 278 pounds of copper:


125 poundsbuilding wire
82 poundsplumbing tube, fittings, valves
20 poundsplumbers' brass goods
38 poundsbuilt-in appliances
6 poundsbuilders hardware
7 poundsother wire and tube


General levels of copper use in major appliances:
52 poundsunitary air conditioner
48 poundsunitary heat pump
5.0 poundsdishwasher
4.8 poundsrefrigerator/freezer
4.4 poundsclothes washer
2.7 poundsdehumidifier
2.3 poundsdisposer
2.0 poundsclothes dryer
1.3 poundsrang


There are probably about a billion doorknobs in the U.S., their copper contents weigh in at about 500-600 million pounds. Most silver plate flatware (forks, knives, spoons) has a copper-nickel-zinc alloy base (nickel silver) which accounts for about 1.2 pounds of copper per set of 12 pieces. An average set of holloware uses about 1.8 pounds of copper. Copper cookware has long been the preference of gourmet chefs around the world. The metal's ability to transfer heat efficiently and evenly puts the cook in complete control. Although many U.S. companies used to manufacture solid copper cookware, today, only Hammersmith Copper is still in business, according to the Cookware Manufacturers Association of Birmingham, Alabama. The 12-employee, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based manufacturer supplies cookware and serving pieces to professional and home cooks with either tin or silver linings. The company also re-tins copper cookware. The Tesla Roadster is also the first commercially available automobile powered by an electric motor powered by a copper rotor. This innovative advancement in metallurgical technology increases efficiency, resulting in greater overall power and longer operating distances between charges. A true sports car, the Roadster is hand-built, sleekly designed, fast and nimble. It boasts a range of 250 miles with a top speed of 130 mph Vehicle engines run smoother and last longer because copper is added to lubricants. Motor oil manufacturers typically include additives containing soluble, antioxidant copper to their products, a process originally patented by Exxon Chemical Corp. Exxon considers the copper-based additive to rank among the most significant inventions in crankcase additive chemistry in the 20th century. The body of the 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost is completely copper. Nearly all of the car's engine hardware is solid brass. And, of course, it has a copper and brass radiator. The Franklin Mint offers a precision scale model. The National Transportation Museum in Reno, Nevada, displays the classic restored Rolls. Copper and its alloys have been used throughout the ages for artistic pursuits. Due to the metal's unique physical properties, it can be manipulated into various shapes, designs and structures of all sizes. And, it looks good. Today, copper fixtures and decorative copper finishes are an exciting trend in home décor and can be found on everything from small appliances to refrigerators, countertops, fireplace surrounds and more.

Source: copper


Copper is man's oldest metal, dating back more than 10,000 years. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq goes back to about 8700 B.C. Copper is believed to have been used first by Neolithic man as a substitute for stone around 8000 B.C. The science of metallurgy emerged when copper was heated and mold-casted into shapes in Egypt around 4000 B.C. In 3500 B.C., fire and charcoal were used to smelt ores, and copper was alloyed with tin to create bronze, giving rise to the Bronze Age. Copper beads have been excavated in northern Iraq and which are more than ten thousand years old and presumably made from native copper, nuggets of which can sometimes be found. Copper was widely used in the ancient world as bronze, its alloy with tin, which was used to make cutlery, coins, and tools. In China it was used for bells. The Romans obtained their copper from Cyprus. It was called aes Cyprium, which means "metal of Cyprus." This was shortened to cyprium. Later, cyprium was changed to coprum, and eventually became known in English as copper. The dead sea scrolls One of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls found in Israel is made of copper instead of more fragile animal skins. The scroll contains no biblical passages or religious writings - only clues to a still undiscovered treasure. Copper is not difficult to extract from it ores, but mineable deposits were relatively rare. Some, such as the copper mine at Falun, Sweden, date from the 1200s, were the source of great wealth. One way to extract the metal was to roast the sulfide ore then leach out the copper sulfate that was formed, with water. This was then trickled over scrap iron on the surface of which the copper deposited, forming a flaky layer that was easily removed. The oldest metal object found in the Middle East consists of copper, it was a tiny awl dating back as far as 5100 B.C.. The U.S. penny was originally made of pure copper. Nowadays, it is 97.5 percent zinc with a thin copper skin. Copper ranks as third-most-consumed industrial metal in the world, after iron and aluminum, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. About three-quarters of that copper goes to make electrical wires, telecommunication cables and electronics. Copper artifacts are sprinkled throughout the historical record. A tiny awl, the oldest metal object ever found in the Middle East, was discovered buried with a middle-age woman in an ancient village in Israel. The copper probably came from the Caucasus region more than 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) away. In ancient Egypt, people used copper alloys to make jewelry, including toe rings. Researchers have found massive copper mines from the 10th century B.C. in Israel. Copper turns green because of an oxidation reaction; that is, it loses electrons when exposed to water and air. The resulting copper oxide is a dull green. This oxidation reaction is the reason the copper-plated Statue of Liberty is green rather than orange-red. According to the Copper Development Association, a weathered layer of copper oxide only 0.005 inches (0.127 millimeters) thick coats Lady Liberty. The covering weighs about 80 tons. The change from copper-colored to green occurred gradually and was complete by 1920, 34 years after the statue's construction, according to the New York Historical Society.