Make Copper Metal from Copper Sulfate

The formation of red metal on ignition in presence of carbon

Scientific name: Reduction of copper from salts in the presence of carbon


Make Copper Metal from Copper Sulfate

by mrhomescientist


Wear eye protection goggles. Work away from flammable objects.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

CuSO4 + 2 NaHCO3 → CuCO3 + Na2SO4 + H2O + CO2

2 CuCO3 + C → 2 Cu + 3 CO2


CuCO3 → CuO + CO2

2 CuO + C → 2 Cu + CO2

Step-by-step instruction

  1. Dissolve 30 grams of copper sulfate in 75 ml of water, using a flat-bottomed flask.
  2. Next, slowly add with stirring 20 grams of sodium bicarbonate. Thus, bubbles of carbon dioxide should be released.
  3. After carbon dioxide stops releasing, filter the resulting mixture using regular filter paper.
  4. Dry the resulting precipitate of copper carbonate.
  5. You should get about 16 grams of copper carbonate. Mix them with the 10 grams of ground charcoal.
  6. Transfer the mixture into a metal pan.
  7. Heat the mixture over an open fire until the color of the mixture changes from blue to yellow.

Scientific background

The first step of the synthesis proceeds with the formation of copper carbonate through an ordinary ion exchange reaction. The need for use of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is due to the fact that the reaction between copper sulfate and sodium carbonate leads to the formation of basic copper carbonate, which is less suitable for the next step.

Copper carbonate is easily decomposed by heating to copper oxide and carbon dioxide. However, copper oxide reduces to copper metal in the presence of a reducing agent (carbon).


Published on 13 June 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst