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Applications > Copper Compounds        

Uses of Copper Sulphate

Copper sulphate, blue stone, blue vitriol are all common names for pentahydrated cupric sulphate, CuSO45H2O, which is the best known and the most widely used of the copper salts. Indeed it is often the starting raw material for the production of many of the other copper salts.

Today in the world there are more than 100 manufacturers and the world's consumption is around 200,000 tonnes per annum. It is estimated that approximately three-quarters of this is used in agriculture, principally as a fungicide, but also for treating copper-deficient soils.

copper-deficient soil

Uses

Copper sulphate is a very versatile chemical with as extensive a range of uses in industry as it has in agriculture. Its principal employment is in agriculture, and, up to a generation or so ago, about its only uses in industry were as a mordant for dyeing and for electroplating. Today it is being employed in many industrial processes:

  • The synthetic fibre industry has found an application for it in the production of their raw material.
  • The metal industry uses large quantities of copper sulphate as an electrolyte in copper refining, for copper coating steel wire prior to wire drawing and in various copper plating processes.
  • The mining industry employs it as an activator in the concentration by froth flotation of lead, zinc, cobalt and gold ores.
  • The printing trade takes it as an electrolyte in the production of electrotype and as an etching agent for process engraving.
  • The paint industry uses it in anti-fouling paints and it plays a part in the colouring of glass.

Indeed, today there is hardly an industry which does not have some small use for copper sulphate. In the table below, some of the many uses of copper sulphate are listed.

For further information see Pub 11 Uses of Copper Compounds. open pdf

Classification

Application

Agriculture

Major uses

Preparation of Bordeaux and Burgundy mixtures for use as fungicides

 

Manufacture of other copper fungicides such as copper-lime dust, tribasic copper sulphate, copper carbonate and cuprous oxide

 

Manufacture of insecticides such as copper arsenite and Paris green

 

Control of fungus diseases

 

Correction of copper deficiency in soils

 

Correction of copper deficiency in animals

 

Growth stimulant for fattening pigs and broiler chickens

Molluscicide for the destruction of slugs and snails, particularly the snail host of the liver fluke

Other uses

Seed dressing

 

Soil steriliser, e.g. Cheshunt compound (a mixture of copper sulphate and ammonium carbonate) to prevent "damping-off" disease of tomato, etc.

 

Control and prevention of foot rot in sheep and cattle

 

Bacteriastat for addition to sheep dips

 

Disinfectant in prevention of the spread of swine erysepelas and white scours in calves

 

Control of scum in farm ponds

 

Plant nutrient in rice fields

 

Preservative for wooden posts, wooden buildings, etc.

 

Preservative for wooden fruit boxes, planting baskets and other containers

 

Ingredient of vermin repellents, e.g. for application to bark of trees against rabbits

 

Stimulant of latex yield on rubber plantations

Protection against algal growths on flower pots

Public health and medicine

 

Destruction of algal blooms in reservoirs and swimming pools

 

Prevention of the spread of athletes foot in warm climates, by incorporation in the flooring mixture of swimming baths

 

Control of bilharzia in tropical countries, as a molluscicide

 

Prevention of malaria, in the preparation of Paris green for use against osquito larvae

 

Antiseptic and germicide against fungus infections

Catalyst or raw material for the preparation of copper catalysts used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products

Industry

Adhesives

Preservative in casein and other glues

 

Additive to book binding pastes and glues, for insecticidal purposes

 

Additive to animal and silicate glues to give water resistance

Building

Timber preservative and in the preparation of other wood preservatives, e.g. oil based copper naphthenates and water based copper/chrome/arsenic for the prevention of woodworms and wood rots

 

Ingredient of plaster to prevent fungus infection, e.g. to prevent the spread of dry rot

 

Ingredient of concrete, both as a colouring matter and as an antiseptic, e.g. for use in and around swimming pools

 

Modification of the setting of concrete

 

Protection against lichens, moulds and similar growths on asbestos cement roofing and other building materials

Control of the growth of tree roots in sewers

Chemical

Preparation of catalysts for use in many industries

 

Purification of gases, e.g. removal of hydrogen chloride and hydrogen sulphide

 

Precipitation promoter in purifying zinc sulphate solutions

 

Precipitation of alkaloids as double salts from crude extracts

Source of other copper compounds such as copper carbonate silicate/arsenite/
aceto-arsenite/resinate/stearate/tartrate/oleate naphthenate/chromate/chlorate/
alginate/fluoride/hydroxide, cuprous oxide/ chloride/cyanide and cuprammonium
compounds

Decorative trades

Colouring glass

 

Colouring cement and plaster

 

Colouring ceramic wares

 

Alteration of metal colours, e.g. darkening of zinc, colouring aluminium

Dyestuffs

Reagent in the preparation of dyestuffs intermediates

 

Catalyst or raw material for the preparation of copper catalysts, e.g. preparation of phenols from diazo compounds, preparation of phthalocyanine dyes

Leather

Mordant in dyeing

 

Reagent in tanning processes

Metal and
electrical

Electrolyte in copper refining

 

Electrolyte in copper plating and electro forming

 

Electrolytic manufacture of cuprous compounds, e.g. cuprous oxide

 

Constituent of the electrodes and electrolytes in batteries

 

Electrolyte in the manufacture of copper powder

 

Electrolyte in aluminium plating and anodising

 

Copper coating steel wire, prior to wire drawing

 

Pickling copper wire, etc., prior to enamelling

Providing a suitable surface for marking out iron and steel

Mining

Flotation reagent in the concentration of ores, e.g. zinc blende

Paint

Raw material for the manufacture of copper naphthenate and other copper compounds for use in anti-fouling paints

 

Preparation of certain varnish or paint dryers, e.g. copper oleate, copper stearate

 

Preparation of certain pigments, e.g. copper chromate, copper ferrocyanide, copper phthalocyanine

Printing

Etching agent for process engraving

 

Electrolyte in the preparation of electrotype

 

Ingredient of printing inks

Synthetic rubber and petroleum

Preparation of catalysts used in cracking certain gaseous and liquid petroleum

 

Fractions

 

Preparation of cuprous chloride, used in the purification of butadiene and in the separation of acetylene derivatives

 

Preparation of catalysts used in chlorinating rubber latex

 

Purification of petroleum oils

Textiles

Preparation of copper compounds for rot-proofing canvas and other fabrics

 

Rot-proofing sandbags

 

Mordant, especially in calico printing

 

Cuprammonium process for the production of rayon

 

Production of aniline black and diazo colours for dyeing

 

"After coppering" to increase the fastness of dyes

Catalyst in the manufacture of cellulose ethers and in cellulose acetylation

Miscellaneous

Improving the burning qualities of coke

 

Laboratory analytical work

 

Ingredient of laundry marking ink

 

Dyeing of hair and horn

 

Ingredient of hair dyes of the phenylene diamine or pyrogallol type

 

Preparation of chlorophyll as a colouring material for food stuffs

 

Imparting a green colour in fireworks

 

Activator in the preparation of active carbons

 

Preservative for wood pulp

 

Preservation of fishing nets and hides on trawls

 

Obtaining a blue-black finish on steel

 

Treatment of carbon brushes

 

Ingredient of the solution used for preserving plant specimens in their natural colours

Impregnation in fruit wrapping papers to prevent storage rots

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