How to determine whether copper is real

Mar 30,2017

How to determine whether copper is real

--how to indicate pure copper electrical wire

Due to copper's conductivity, the metal is used frequently as electrical wire. It's also a constituent in many metal objects, including some coins. If you are familiar with some of the chemical and physical properties of copper, you can perform a number of different tests to gauge the purity of an object's copper.

Magnetism Test

Copper is only slightly magnetic. Therefore, if you hold a magnet close to the copper object you wish to test, you shouldn't see any effects. Powerful magnets, however, may have a slight effect on your copper object. When you drop a strong magnet through a copper tube, it will appear to fall more slowly than normal. This is due to eddy currents that are generated in the copper by the moving magnetic field. If your object exhibits these magnetic properties, it may be copper.

Resistivity and Conductivity

Copper has a resistivity of roughly 1.7 x 10^-8 ohm-meters at room temperature. This means that it conducts electrical current very well. If your object does not conduct current well, it is not made of pure copper. If you can determine the resistance of your object with an ohmmeter, you can calculate the resistivity of the material. To convert from resistance to resistivity, multiply resistance by the cross-sectional area of the object and divide by its length. If the resistivity of your object is significantly larger than copper's resistivity, it is likely not made of pure copper.

Density Measurement

You can test your sample object by measuring its density. The density of copper is 8.92 grams per milliliter. To determine the density of your object, weigh it and then divide that weight by its volume. If the density of your object is significantly different from the density of copper, your object is not pure copper.

Color of Copper

To find out if your object is made of copper, you can clean it with a mixture of table salt and vinegar and then observe its color changes. One of the chemicals created in the combination of table salt and vinegar is hydrochloric acid. When you wipe your object after putting table salt and vinegar on it, the hydrochloric acid will help clean the surface of the material. If the material is copper, it will eventually oxidize from exposure to oxygen, water and carbon dioxide. This will create a greenish color on surface of the object.

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