Few metals in human history have been as influential and beneficial to mankind as copper. Copper has a history dating back at least 10,000 years and is still used as an intricate component in almost all modern electronics, telecommunication equipment and plumbing, as well as countless other household products that many people around the country use every day.
What is copper used for in houses? When it comes to uses of copper in everyday life, copper can be found just about anywhere in your home. From the piping in the walls to small electronic components in your cell phone or the microprocessors in your computer, the copper properties and uses in the home are nearly endless because of its amazing properties. Copper is used in your automobile, in motors and in household appliances like washing machines and dryers, but it is even more commonly used in conjunction with other metal in numerous household products because of the abundance of copper alloys.
Copper’s unique properties as a mineral and an element have cemented the metal as a keystone in technological and engineering advancements dating as far back as the ancient Sumerians. The metal offers high ductile strength, malleability, corrosion resistance and high thermal and electrical conductivity. It is found within our bodies and is also a vital part of the diets of humans, animals and plants. Copper-rich foods include certain types of beans, almonds, peas, broccoli, whole wheat and chocolate.
When combined with other metals like tin, nickel and zinc, copper produces a range of alloys that increase its strength and other useful properties, making it one of the most versatile metals to use in engineering as well. In addition to providing the basis for more than 400 alloys, copper is also one metal that offers near endless recycle-ability.
Copper can be recycled again and again, which means the household copper items you see around your home could be as old as the ancient Egyptians or President Abraham Lincoln. Nearly all of the copper resources across the world throughout time, which equate to about 5.8 trillion pounds, are still in circulation today. Today alone, only about 0.7 trillion pounds or 12% of the total copper resources, has actually been mined throughout history because of the metal’s immense ability to be recycled.
Not only is copper a necessary dietary need for humans, but alloys created from copper also benefit human health. Have you ever wondered why copper alloys such as brass are used for doorknobs so often? It’s because copper has its own antimicrobial properties that can drastically reduce the spread of disease and other germs.
Copper by itself is usually recognizable because of its unique colour, a characteristic that is only shared by one other metal — gold. However, even some silverware around your home may contain a small amount of copper in the form of a copper, nickel or zinc alloy. Sterling silver, for example, is 7.5% copper which strengthens the product for usability once it’s mixed with about 92.5 percent silver.
Left to oxidize, copper will begin to show signs of the beautiful green patina akin to what you see on Lady Liberty in New York Harbor. The reason for the sculpture’s unique colour is that the copper skin of the Statue of Liberty slowly began to change colour from its original dull, copper hue over time as it was exposed to the elements. By combining copper with other alloys, oxidation does not occur as quickly and provides some resilience to weathering.
If you are in search of copper alloys around your home, keep your eyes open for bronze, brass and many other numerous copper-nickel or copper-zinc alloys that can be found in everything from doorknobs and cookware to bed frames and showers and even decorative items. The possibilities of household use for copper are endless and have endured throughout time. Take a look at some of the most common uses of copper in your home and everyday life.
Perhaps the most common home use of copper people have come to know is its use in both electrical wiring and in copper pipes used for the plumbing in most homes and businesses. Copper is highly conductive of both electrical and thermal energy. In addition, copper remains relatively abundant despite increasing demand for the metal — as deposits are still being mined worldwide today — because of its ability to be recycled again and again.
With only solid silver performing better, copper remains the best conductor of electricity and is both abundant and affordable. Because of these unique properties and uses, copper has long been the standard for both plumbing and electrical wiring in homes since their incorporation in construction. Even though aluminium was once used in place of copper for a period of time during the constructing of new homes, it was not as reliable, forcing copper to remain the standard for indoor wiring, outlets and other household electrical conductors used today.
When it comes to plumbing systems, copper is also the most common metal used as it offers superior performance, exceeding required building codes, as well as providing reliability to your system. Copper does not require maintenance and offers longevity that can outlast many other facets of your home. More than 85% of households have copper plumbing systems. However, the rise of plastic piping is on the rise because of its affordability.
Even if plastic is more affordable, the properties of copper still remain superior for household plumbing and the health and safety of your family. As mentioned above, copper’s antimicrobial properties allow plumbing to reduce the risk of contaminants because it’s impermeable and naturally reduces the spread of disease by inhibiting bacterial growth. In addition, copper is rigid and can withstand a lot of weathering without becoming brittle, cracking or sagging when subjected to events like house fires, intense heat, and extreme cold.
Because of its ability to withstand heat, copper is often used for sprinkler systems because of its ability to maintain pressure during a structure fire, and it is a safer alternative to other piping methods.
In addition to the wiring in your walls, the copper pipes in your plumbing system and numerous copper components used in household electronic devices, copper is also used in kitchens, bathrooms and water closets often because of its natural antimicrobial properties.
Everything from your microwave and dishwasher to the washing machine also utilizes copper, but the bathroom and kitchen fixtures are some of the most common copper products you’ll find in the home. Take a look at some of our handmade copper products that will add a unique aesthetic to your home, while maintaining longevity for years to come.