As a chemical element, copper is represented by the symbol Cu in the periodic table and has the atomic number 29. As a metal, copper is ductile and malleable and valued for its high thermal and electric conductivity. Copper occurs naturally but its greatest source is in minerals like chalcopyrite and bornite, and you can easily identify it by its reddish-gold colour.

Copper is produced by massive stars and can also be found in our planet’s crust. The largest mass of copper found weighed a spectacular 420 tonnes!

This element is a key part of human and animal anatomy as well. In humans, copper is typically found in the liver, muscles and bones, with a value of 1.4mg and 2.1mg of copper per kilogram of weight being within normal parameters.


The name of this metal comes from the Old English ‘coper’, which, in turn, derives from the Latin ‘Cyprium aes’, which means ‘metal from Cyprus’.

Copper can be traced back to prehistoric times, as it was known to some of the world’s oldest civilisations. It is believed to have been the first metal to be worked by people (with the earliest use around 9000 BC) since it can be found in relatively pure forms – this means this metal doesn’t necessarily need to be extracted from an ore.

Historically, copper has also been used as pigments, as it was known to add blue or green colours to minerals like azurite and malachite.

This metal was the first to be smelted from its ore (around 5000 BC), the first to be cast into a shape with a mould (around 4000 BC) and the first to be alloyed with tin to create bronze (around 3500 BC).


Copper offers a wealth of properties that make it essential for modern metallurgy – and very useful in a variety of industries and sectors. Some of the most sought-after properties of copper and its alloys include the following:

  • Patina – a green layer of copper sulfate that forms on the surface of the metal due to corrosion; however, this layer is protective and prevents the metal from becoming more deteriorated.
  • Corrosion Resistance – this metal is highly resistant to corrosion and copper alloys have been found in near-perfect condition after being buried for millennia.
  • Malleability and Ductility – copper is easy to work with, mainly when it comes to fabricating and joining.
  • Anti-Bacterial – copper compounds have been used as bacteriostatic agents and fungicides, as well as wood preservatives. This metal’s hygienic properties make it useful to slow down the growth of bacteria like E-coli, legionella and MRSA.
  • Strength – one of the great mechanical properties of copper is strength. Copper is a tough metal, and so are its alloys, as they don’t shatter or become brittle when exposed to temperatures below 0o
  • Non-Magnetic – this is a non-ferrous metal, which makes it useful for military applications, for instance.
  • Easy to Alloy – another property that makes copper so sought-after is its ability to easily alloy with other metals, like zinc, tin and nickel.
  • Conductivity – copper is a great electrical and thermal conductor, which is why it’s often used for electrical wiring.

Post time: Mar-11-2022

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