Copper is not just visually stunning. It is also medicinal and industrious all at once!
One of the very first metals mined and molded by humans, this metal has been used for more than 11,000 years. Evidence shows that gold and meteoric iron are the only metals that people have been using for longer. Technologies perfected in working it were crucial to the common usage of iron and later steel. It even has its own historical period named after it, the Copper Age.
Yet, even with so many thousands of years in use, humans are still discovering new ways to work with it. Here are some of the interesting traits and applications the metal offers.
Due to its antimicrobial properties, copper has been used as a medicinal for centuries. Long before people even knew what bacteria are, we knew that this metal helped keep people healthy. Water transported in copper vessels was known to be much safer to drink than water transported in other vessels.
There’s also many reasons it makes such a popular counter top. Firstly, it looks amazing. But more impressively, copper has been shown to kill E. coli microbes within 1-2 hours. It has even been shown to kill the dangerous bacterial strain MRSA. This bacterial organism that has become resistant to the normal broad spectrum antibiotics. This makes it very dangerous and hard to contain, but copper can help!
Some anecdotal evidence indicates that copper has an affect on arthritis and osteoporosis. Which is why jewelry made from this metal has been used to alleviate symptoms from these. It is also suspected to play a role in preventing heart disease. However this is still being studied, so the exact benefits aren’t known. Also, it’s found in many medicines meant to stem seizures. Interestingly, the human brain contain more copper than any other organ except the liver. It is a crucial element to most life.
Lastly, the ancient Romans believed that copper would attract love and protect against evil! Seems plausible to me.
Copper is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. Second only to sliver, it is used in many industries for things such as electrical wiring, water piping, corrosion-resistant parts, cooking, and even construction. Our modern, electrical world is reliant upon it. The electrical components in your phone, computer, wiring, and so much more are made overwhelmingly from copper.
Art and architecture has always valued this reddish metal as well. Famously, the Statue of Liberty is copper plated and turned green after over 132 years of exposure to the elements.
In the maritime industry, copper sheets were widely used on the bottom of ships. This is because it prevents the growth of algae and barnacles. While this is still done, these days it is more common to see the hulls coated with a paint infused with a powdered form of this metal.
Similarly, powdered forms of the metal have been used as pigments in paint and makeup for centuries.
Furthermore, it can be alloyed with other metals that helpfully change its properties. Or the properties of the metal that it is alloyed with. This dramatically increases its usefulness and versatility.
Copper is also a malleable metal, which makes it even more useful. This flexibility combined with other properties is why it is available in almost any shape. Round bars, square bars, flat bars, hexagonal bars, sheet/plate, foils, tapes, threaded rods, tubes, and more!
It is a pure element. Noted on the Periodic Table of Elements as Cu, which is derived from the Latin word ‘cuprum.’ This translates to ‘the metal from Cyprus,’ so called because during the ancient Roman period, most of the Empire’s copper was mined and smelted on the island of Cyprus.
The atomic number is 29. What does this mean? It signifies the number of protons in the atom.
The melting point is 1984° F or 1085° C.