Copper is a vibrant base metal that is very common and easy to work with. It was the first metal that I started wire wrapping minerals with and Daryl often told me it was the best ‘practice wire.’ When you work with silver or 14K gold-filled wire, one needs to be adept and Daryl would often practice a design in copper before it replicated it in the precious metals.
While copper may have been the first metal I’ve worked with, LiveScience notes that it was also the first metal that was ever manipulated by humans and is still an important metal in many industries today. I use it for art, Elon Musk and the engineers at Tesla use it for battery technology. Electricians use it in wiring to conduct electricity.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stated that copper ranks at the third most-consumed industrial metal in the world after iron and aluminum, which is another metal I work with. Daryl hated aluminum, but I enjoy its lightness and flexibility. When working with stronger metals such as bronze or a really thick gauge of copper, aluminum is kind of like a cooling down for me.
Humanity has been creating with copper for around 8,000 years–at least. We figured out how to smelt it by around 4,500 B.C. LiveScience pointed out that the next technological leap was creating copper alloys by adding tin to copper—this creates bronze which is a pretty tough metal. This development led to the Bronze Age and during this time, the creation of bronze tools, weapons, and art flourished.
Around two-thirds of the copper on this planet is found in igneous rocks and a quarter occurs in sedimentary rocks. It turns green due to an oxidation reaction–it loses electrons when exposing to water and air. Many minerals such as malachite, chrysocolla, ajoite, turquoise, and azurite have high amounts of copper and are often ores. Due to those high amounts, these are often toxic. Malachite has around 57% copper in it and is highly toxic in dust form. If you put malachite in water, the water becomes toxic.
In medicine, copper is anti-microbial and this has made it useful in this field. In 2013, researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina found that copper killed microbes by interfering with the electrical charge of the organisms’ cell membranes. This slows the spread of hospital-acquired infections.