The use of copper can be traced back at least 10,000 years, and ever since human beings first came across it we haven’t been able to stop using it as it makes such an incredibly useful substance, and we’ve been using it for a very long time. A copper pendant was found in Northern Iraq that is believed to date to 8700 BC.
The Copper age gave way to the Bronze Age, where copper was alloyed with tin to produce bronze, and many of the same implements were used as were used when just plain copper was being used. For example things like war weapons, hatchets, cutlery and crockery and so on.
The word ‘Copper’ itself comes from ‘aes Cyprium’ meaning essentially a copper alloy from Cyprus, as the Romans mined a great deal of copper from Cyprus. This was simplified further to ‘cuprum’ and eventually we ended up with the word copper.
Copper has always been used for a great variety of things, but has traditionally always found some of its more long lasting use in the use of currency. Romans for example used mere copper lumps as currency.
Initially the copper itself was where the value came from, but as time went on the more the people began to value the aesthetics of the copper, and so they began to form it into more pleasing shapes. The Romans valued copper so much and found such a great use for it that they ended up smelting an astonishing amount of it, and never seemed to find an end for its uses.
Copper has continually found uses throughout the course of history, and not just for practical uses, but artistic ones too. For example, the Statue of Liberty is made of copper, and historical analysis shows that no matter what period in history humans have had their hands on copper, they’ve always managed to find great use for it.
The uses of Copper
As mentioned, copper has been used constantly in human society ever since it was first discovered, but it’s time to see in a little more detail some of the uses that can be found for copper in our world.
Copper is usually used as a pure metal, mainly in things like electrical wiring/cabling, roofing and plumbing and various forms of industrial machinery. But for anything where a little more hardness is needed it is usually formed into an alloy such as brass and bronze, as while the malleability of copper when pure does make it easy to work with, it can leave it less than desirable for use as a high stress component.
Wiring and Cabling – Electrical wiring is the most valuable and incredibly profitable means for the use of copper, and thanks to its proven usage and incredible conductivity it is still the preferred material for use in electrical conduction.
It’s also used in
- power generation
- electrical equipment
As mentioned, wire is the most profitable use for copper these days, and building wire, communications cable, power distribution cable, appliance wire, vehicular wires and cable as well as magnet wires can all be made from copper, and it’s believed that roughly half of the copper mined in the world is used to manufacture conductive wiring and cabling.
Copper is a highly useful material, and highly effective wherever it is used as well as being very dependable and easy to work with, so it always in demand. Marine applications – Bacteria will not grown on copper, and so it has long been used on ships to line certain parts liable to become subject to barnacles and mussels. Christopher Columbus‘ ships were some of the first to make use of this.
Thanks to its resistance to bio-fouling and strongly structural and corrosion resistant properties, copper is used throughout marine life.