Friday, 1 April 2016

Copper is kind of amazing

I think one of the reasons I use copper other than for the colour is because it reminds me of home. It was used in a lot of older jewellery and the region I grew up in was named copper mountain (thought they recently changed the name) due to the fact that there was indeed a big copper mountain in the middle of the whole area (which I've obviously been down in), and which until quite recently was in production. 

When I studied silversmithing we were given homework to look things up and write about them in the book which we then handed in to be marked. One "essay" was about the different materials we used (though I can't remember if I got told to write about that or just decided to) and whilst looking them up online I found out that copper is kind of amazing. I do mention this from time to time in conversations and each time everyone seems surprised so thought that maybe I should write a blog post about it and spread just how good it is. 

You've probably seen that there are loads of copper pipes and wires everywhere and probably thought it's because it's a cheap material or easy to get hold of, however turns out it's also a good electricity and thermal conductor, and very resistant against corrosion with a melting point of 1083 Celsius, so that is kind of great.

It's also essential to humans as we have it in our bodies, not a huge amount but what's there is vital to our well-being, which is likely why a lot of jewellery is aimed at people who have any illness affecting their blood or joints, however I'm not saying that it does (or doesn't) work for those sort of ailments as I've not had proof either for or against and am yet to make an opinion.

However neither of those facts are the reason that I think it's amazing but rather it's antibacterial properties. Let's say you touch a handle someone with, for example the flu, touched earlier, chances are the virus is still active and it's now on you. However if the handle is made of copper depending on what said germ/virus/fungi is, and how recently the person touched it (lets face it, if straight after it wont help) you should be fine. 
I won't go through them all but just mention some of the more serious stuff:
Copper has been shown to knock out 99,9 % of E.coli within 60 if the room is at room temp to  270 minutes if it's cold, whilst on stainless steel E.coli can live for weeks.   
It also works against, Legionella and tests even shows that it appears to knock out MRSA within 2 hours. 
How efficient it is depends on how high the copper contents is, the higher the contents the quicker it works and more successful it is, which if you think about it makes sense. Now you have to admit that's bloody brilliant! And raises the question which it's not used more in public spaces? 
Silver and brass has also shown to work in different extents on different germs and viruses but not as well as copper. Now I'm not telling you to go out and get your work benches swapped over to copper or anything I just think it's kind of great and wanted to spread the knowledge (because sometimes I geek out about weird stuff) :)