Copper – Detailed explanation, Extraction, Properties, and 6 Uses

Copper is a chemical element denoted by the symbol Cu. The name Copper has been derived from the German word ‘Kupfer‘ but its symbol ‘Cu’ has been derived from its Latin name ‘Cuprum‘. Its atomic number is 29 and its atomic weight is 63.57 amu. The electronic configuration of Cu is 1s2, 2s22p6, 3s23p63d10, 4s1. Copper is known as a coinage metal. Copper is found in the element of the group IB (11) of the periodic table and is also known as called coinage metal.


Occurrence of Copper

Copper is found in combined as well as in the native state. Native copper is found in large quantities in Michigan (USA). The common ores of copper are:

  1. Copper glance, Cu2S
  2. Ruby copper, or cuprite, Cu2O
  3. Copper pyrites, CuFeS2
  4. Azurite, Cu(OH)2, 2CuCO3
  5. Malachite, CuCO3.Cu(OH)2

Extraction of Copper

The Process of extraction of copper depends upon the nature of the ore available. Copper is mainly extracted from its sulphide ores. The various steps involved in the extraction of copper from pyrites ore.

Crushing, pulverization, and concentration

The ore is obtained in the bulk and contains a large amount of waste rocky materials. The ore is crushed in big jaw crushers and pulverized in ball mills and sieved. The ore thus powered is agitated with a mixture of pine oil and water in a tank. The mixture is agitated by compressed air. Pure ore particles stick to the fourth bubble and rise to the surface with forth where it is skimmed off.


The concentrated ore is then heated strongly in a current of air on the hearth of a reverberatory furnace. Here roasted ore is found which mainly contains a mixture of cuprous sulphide, ferrous sulphide, and ferrous oxide.


The roasted ore is mixed with powdered coke and sand and is heated strongly in a blast furnace which is about 4.5 to 6 meters in diameter. Here in the lower layer of the blast furnace the molten matte forms.


The molten matte is mixed with little silica and charged into a Bessemer converter. Ferrous sulphide is preset in matte is oxidized to ferrous oxide which combines with silica to form slag.


The refining and purification of the metal are done in two steps poling and electrolytic refining.

Physical Properties

  • It has a flesh-pink color.
  • It is malleable and ductile.
  • It exhibits high electrical and thermal conductivity.
  • Copper readily alloys with many other metals.
  • Its Specific gravity is 8.95, melting point 1083oC and boiling point 2582oC.

Chemical Properties

  • Action of air: In dry air, copper is quite stable at room temperature. On heating it forms cuprous and cupric oxides.
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  • Action of water: Wter an ordinary temperature has no action on copper and at high temperatures reaction takes place.
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  • Action of acid: Copper does not replace hydrogen from acids. It does not react with dilute hydrochloric and sulphuric acids. However, it reacts with warm dilute sulphuric acid and hydrochloric acid in the presence of oxygen.
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  • Action of chlorine: Chlorine attacks copper forming cupric chloride.
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  • Displacement Reaction: Copper displaces less electropositive metals like Ag, Pt, Au, etc from their water-soluble salts.
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Uses of Copper

  • Copper is a very good conductor of electricity. Therefore, it is used for making electrical cables and electrical appliances.
  • Copper in the form of a sheet is used in making utensils., kettles, and other containers.
  • It is one of the most important constituents of many alloys like brass, gun-metal, bronze, etc.
  • When mixed in small quantities of gold and silver, it makes them very hard. This hardened alloy is used for making ornaments, idols, etc.
  • It is extensively used in electroplating. Previously it was also used in making coins but these days it has been largely replaced by aluminum and other alloys.
  • Salts and copper are used in agriculture as insecticides and pesticides.

Some Important Compounds of Copper

  • Cuprous oxide (Cu2O)
  • Cupric oxide (CuO)
  • Cuprous chloride (Cu2Cl2)
  • Cupric chloride (CuCl2)
  • Copper Sulphate (CuSO4.5H2

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