In addition to their many uses in agriculture and biology, copper salts have an astonishing variety of industrial uses, chiefly of a specialised nature, and there is hardly an industry which does not have some small use for them. The following pages briefly describe a few of the more important copper compounds and list some of their uses with particular reference to copper sulphate. It is worth noting that copper is an indispensable constituent of all living tissues and is essential for the normal growth and wellbeing of plants and animals. Where it is lacking it has to be supplied.
The minute quantities of copper needed for human health are usually obtained through the normal intake of food and water. Copper and its compounds are not toxic like some other metals, such as lead or mercury. There are no records of any occupational diseases attributable to copper among people who have worked for any years with the metal or its salts. Indeed it has sometimes been said that such people often appear healthier and generally suffer less from colds and other ailments. Copper bangles and other adornments are reputed to relieve and prevent rheumatic pains. Copper water storage vessels, copper kettles and copper cooking pans have been used for generations.
Common copper compounds for agricultural and chemical uses are:
- Anhydrous and monohydrated copper sulphate – see uses of copper sulphate.
- Copper acetates
- Cuprous oxide
- Cupric oxide (black copper oxide)
- Cupric chloride
- Copper oxychloride
- Cuprous chloride
- Cupric nitrate
- Copper cyanide
- Copper soaps
- Copper naphthenate