The Chemical Properties of Copper

Copper is a reddish brown element in the transition metals family of the periodic table. Copper is in the fourth period and eleventh group of the periodic table. It has an atomic number of 29 and an atomic weight of 63.546. The chemical symbol for copper is Cu, from the Latin word cuprum. A common metal in everyday life, the chemical properties of copper allow it to be regularly used in electrical equipment, plumbing parts, and some sculptures and coins.

Copper has an atomic number of 29, meaning there are 29 protons in the nucleus of a copper atom. On the periodic table, copper is a group eleven element sharing a group with silver, gold, and roentgenium. This group of metals tends to be effective at conducting electricity and avoiding corrosion. Instead of rusting, copper forms a protective outer coating called patina with a distinctive green blue color.

Copper is a fairly strong metal with a density of 8.96 grams per cubic centimeter. In nature, it can be found in rocks, water, and particles even exist in the air. Plants, animals, and the human body require a small amount of copper each day, which they usually absorb through the air and water. However, in high amounts copper can be harmful to people, leading to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

There are several isotopes of copper, only two of which are stable and commonly found naturally. According to the Jefferson Lab of the Department of Energy, Copper-63 represents 69 percent of the natural abundance with Copper-65 making up 31 percent.

A member of the transition metals family, copper is a great conductor of electricity and heat. Copper is most frequently used in an electrical capacity. The European Copper Institute reports that two-thirds of all copper produced is used for electrical purposes. The metal is commonly used in plumbing equipment like piping and faucets; plumbing accounts for about a quarter of all copper use.

Other uses of copper include being part of some coins, musical instruments, and a few other various items and structures including the Statue of Liberty. As an effective conductor of heat, copper is also found in many cooking pans. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, certain derivatives of copper are used in water treatment and in fighting some plant diseases.

The chemical properties of copper make it a very useful element, commonly used in conducting electricity and plumbing equipment among other items. In its natural form, it is found in rock deposits, soil, water, and the air. Copper even plays a role in sustaining good health in people, plants, and animals.