10 Interesting Facts About Copper

Copper is a mineral element that is important in our day-to-day lives. In terms of consumption in the United States, copper ranks third after iron and aluminum. Exactly why is copper so essential? There are a number of reasons. Not only is it a very good industrial metal with various properties including high malleability, ductility, and corrosion-resistance and electrical and thermal conductivity, it is also a universal metal that forms an essential part of our diet. Copper is a recyclable metal as well. Aside from the improving prices per pound there are quite a few interesting facts about copper that may surprise you.

  • Copper is one of the few metals that is used in its native form. It was one of the very first metals to be used in ancient times. In fact, historical studies record copper as “man’s oldest metal.” Its usage can be dated back more than 10,000 years. The oldest copper item to be discovered during archaeological excavations is a pendant retrieved from the area that is now north Iraq, and it dates back to approximately 8700 BCE.
  • Ever since its discovery, copper has been used for building all kinds of structures for thousands of years. The huge doors of the Amun-Ra Temple at Karnak in ancient Egypt were covered with copper and the metal also tops the roof of the 9-story tall Loha Maha Paya temple in Sri Lanka (circa 3rd Century BCE). The Statue of Liberty is actually made of more than 179,000 pounds of copper.
  • When you account for the copper used in electrical wiring, appliances, and pipe systems in an average home, each home contains approximately 400 pounds. An average car contains 50 or more pounds of the metal, while a hybrid car contains almost 75 pounds. In 2015 an average person will end up using 1,309 pounds of copper in the course of their lifetime, as copper can be found in computers, automobiles, telephones, and other appliances, according to the 2008 US Geological Survey.
  • Copper is an element that is naturally anti-bacterial. This means that it helps prevent the spread of bacteria. It is a great choice for use in public buildings in the form of handrails, door knobs, finger plates, and more. Copper pots and pans are preferred in kitchens because the material ensures the even distribution of heat and no heat spots and all the food is cooked uniformly.
  • Copper is a metal that alloys very easily with other metals. Scientists have discovered more than 570 different copper alloys. Of these, more than 350 have been classified as anti-microbial by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Most large-scale computer chip manufacturers across the globe such as IBM use copper instead of the erstwhile aluminum while creating their powerful chips. As compared to aluminum and other metals, it offers better electrical conductivity which helps reduce conductor channel width and length. These features allow for powerful chips that contain more than 400 million transistors, faster operating speed, and perfect circuit integration.
  • This malleable and corrosion-resistant metal is used extensively in plumbing systems. In fact, archeologists have discovered remains of a plumbing system used in Egypt’s Pyramid of Cheops. The copper used in the system casing is still in perfectly usable condition more than 5,000 years later.
  • Used extensively in construction, half of the total copper usage in the world can be accounted for by building and residential constructions.
  • One of the most durable and versatile materials known to mankind, copper also happens to be one of the most recyclable metals on Earth. Because it is 100 percent recyclable, recycled copper covers almost 90 percent of the cost of the originally manufactured copper. Approximately 80 percent of all the copper mined is still in active use in the world today. Since it retains over 90 percent of its original value, it is one of the most viable metals for recycling.
  • Recycling helps to keep the price of copper products lowered, and it saves approximately 15 percent of the energy that would be used to manufacture virgin material. The benefits of recycling copper include lowered levels of energy usage, non-renewable energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, landfill costs, as well as helping in conservation of copper resources. Recycling scrap copper helps consumers reduce their carbon footprint while they make some money simultaneously. In fact, approximately 50 percent of the copper used in the United States comes from the recycling process. The price of copper fluctuates with each passing year.