Copper is one of the earliest metals used by man. Copper is quite soft and malleable which makes it very easy for early men to shape and mold it as rings, earrings, broaches and other jewelry.
The early Mesopotamians further enhanced the strength of copper by mixing copper with tin. This mixture made a stronger and more durable alloy called bronze. Bronze was strong enough to be made into swords, armor and tools. And just like that, the Bronze Age began.
And ever since then, copper has been a crucial metal in developing the civilization that we now know of today. Now copper resides in almost every tool that we use in our daily lives. Our TVs, out pipes, our gadgets, our telephone cables, and it is even used in the field of modern medicine.
Copper as a form of currency
Copper is one of the most useful metals in human history, it is easily mined and it is practically everywhere. Just like gold, copper can be easily shaped and molded into coins and other objects, it’s also a colored metal just like gold which makes it very appealing to the human eye. In short, copper is a very suitable metal to be used as currency.
With the discovery of iron and steel, copper became obsolete. However copper still had value as a form of currency since it was abundant and easy to mold. It didn’t have intrinsic value like silver or gold, and as such copper was mainly used to put price tags on different items and products.
In the modern age, copper is barely used in coinage since most coins in the modern world are now made from alloys that are much cheaper than copper. Copper in this day and age is now mainly used for its utility and for the convenience that it brings.
Properties of Copper
Copper has tons of properties that make it one of the most used and most sought after metals in the modern world. These useful properties are:
Copper has excellent electrical and thermal properties, however it needs to be hardened for it to be actually useful. It’s a good thing copper can be made stronger by forming alloys. Copper mixes well with other metals and it can create stronger metal alloys like bronze and brass.
Copper has very low reactivity to acids and other corrosive substances. This means that it doesn’t corrode easily. This property makes copper very important as it is used in electric cables, circuits, radiators, and pipes.
This also makes copper a very good material for jewelries, decorations, and statues. Since it doesn’t corrode easily, the artwork can remain beautiful for decades (if not centuries) to come.
There are abundant reserves of copper found all over the world, however this does not mean that copper is infinitely abundant. Unlike other metals, copper can be recycled without any loss in quality. This makes copper a very promising metal to use when the earth is facing a resource crisis.
Copper is an amazing catalyst. It can greatly speed up the reactions between different types of compounds. A viable example would be speeding up the reaction between zinc and sulfuric acid. This makes copper useful in the field of chemistry.
Copper is usually called a hygienic metal. It slows down the growth of various bacteria and germs like E-coli and legionella. This makes copper an important metal to be used in hospitals, coins, plumbing systems, food preparation, and other areas where bacteria is involved.
Copper is a non-magnetic metal. It is also non-sparking, and because of this copper can be used in creating special tools and equipment.
Copper is a pretty metal. Other copper alloys like brass and bronze also inherit copper’s luster. Because of this copper is widely used in jewelry and decorations. It has color similar to gold which makes it pretty to look at. It’s also highly resistant to corrosion, which means that it won’t tarnish for a very long time.
Copper is very soft and malleable, in other words, copper is a metal with high ductility. This makes copper a very versatile metal that can be used in a variety of ways.
Despite being very soft, copper is actually a very tough metal. It may not be strong as iron or as compact as titanium. But copper takes little damage upon impact and it doesn’t become brittle at very low temperatures.
Copper in the Future
The biggest problem that most industrialists would face in the future is supply. Or to be more precise, the lack of building materials.
We can only mine a certain amount of metals and minerals on the earth’s surface. When we have exhausted those supplies, then we would have a serious problem. That is why metals like copper would be very important in the future.
Why? Because copper is recyclable and it can be recycled without any loss in quality. This will significantly lessen the problem of supplies which will make copper a highly sought after metal in the future.