Make Copper Metal from Copper Sulfate

31 Comments 11:03 am





It’s been quite a while since my last video, and I’m sorry for the long wait! I just bought my first home a little over a month ago, and it’s taken a good while to get settled in. Switching over all my utilities, carting my stuff over, and signing mountains of paperwork has kept me quite busy! Now things have finally settled down enough where I can start doing some science again, and more videos will be forthcoming from my new laboratory space 🙂 I have a lot of things planned!

This experiment was a two step process to recover copper metal from copper sulfate, a commonly available stump remover chemical. In the first step, I reacted it with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to form copper carbonate. After filtering and drying, the second step of the process required mixing the copper carbonate with carbon and heating strongly for about 20 minutes. The reactions are as follows:
CuSo4 + 2NaHCO3 == CuCO3 + Na2SO4 + H2O + CO2
2CuCO3 + C == 2Cu + 3CO2
Some of the CuCO3 also decomposes into CuO in a side reaction upon heating.

As for the results, I think that if I had heated it to a higher temperature it may have helped the copper formed to coagulate together into a single mass. Also, I should have ground the reactants together and mixed them more thoroughly, to maximize the surface area of the reaction. Perhaps I’ll try both in the future.

Credit for the idea for this experiment goes to Mr. Robert Bruce Thompson, aka TheHomeScientist here on YouTube. I got the idea from his book, The Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments, which is a great resource for students and hobbyists alike (and no, he didn’t pay me to say that!). Go check out his channel for some more excellent chemistry videos!

As always, thanks for watching, and again sorry about the long wait!

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31 thought on “Make Copper Metal from Copper Sulfate”

  1. You could just electrolyze your copper sulfate solution. 12 volts at about ten amps will cause the copper to form in large spongey blobs instead of plating. After you filter it off and rinse and dry it, it becomes a very very fine dust. As a bonus, the water is now sulfuric acid. I reuse the "water" till the copper sulfate is no longer soluble in it. Then I boil it down to concentrate it.

  2. A much easier way to obtain copper metal from the sulfate is to mix up a solution of CuSO4 and NaCl and then add aluminum. The Cl- ions attack the oxide layer on the aluminum and allow the Cu+ ions in solution to be replaced by much more reactive Al+ ions. A spongy copper precipitate is formed on the surface of the aluminum and you are left with a mixture of NaCl, NaSO4, and Na2[AlOH], all of which are water soluble. You can then filter the precipitate and dry it to obtain pure copper powder. Hope that helped!

  3. I think you got your chemistry wrong. Adding sodium bicarbonate to the copper sulphate solution will create Cu2(OH)2CO3, otherwise known as basic copper carbonate.
    My guess is that it didn't react with the carbon in the way you intended it to and you ended up with something different.

  4. I'm sorry, but with your setup it was kinda naive to expect a molten puddle of copper. Its melting temperature is pretty high. High enough to get the container yellow hot before copper liquefies. It would've been interesting to see some way to refine the resulting product. Perhaps next time I guess…

  5. What I do to recover copper metal from copper sulfate is to react copper sulfate with sodium chloride to form a crude copper (II) chloride solution. Really and arbitrary amount of salt. Then use aluminum foil to react the chloride to produce fine copper particles. I don't know if it is effective in collect it producing larger amounts of copper metal, however, it does help to produce a fairly large amount based on the copper sulfate and sodium chloride technique.

  6. you can dry the copper (ii) carbonate and heat it until it reaches its oxide state and turns black.
    I store a lot of this as you can then take it to copper chloride with no fuss with oxidizers.
    its a great way to prepare copper chloride

  7. I've made copper from copper sulfate and  steal balls. though that's a messy method. what i ended up with was a slurry of i think iron sulfate and copper sponge, and a small coating of copper foil on the steal balls which i could scrape of with a knife..

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