Sulfuric acid from copper sulfate

Preparation of sulfuric acid by electrolysis using copper sulfate


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Wear lab gloves and eye protection. Avoid contact of acid with skin.

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

Reaction formula

Cu2+ + 2 e- → Cu

2 H2O - 4 e- → O2 + 4 H+

Step-by-step instruction

WARNING! This experiment is dangerous! You should NOT perform this at home. ONLY carry out this experiment, if you are a trained chemist, and you understand local safety and legal requirements, which are required to perform such experiments

  1. Put about 10g of copper sulfate into a beaker and dissolve it in 100 ml of hot water.
  2. Secure a graphite electrode (anode) and copper wire (cathode) in the beaker so that the electrodes don't touch each other.
  3. Connect the electrodes to a DC power supply (6V). A reaction on the electrodes starts, bubbles of oxygen are formed at the anode. The Graphite electrode dissolves bit by bit during the experiment and pieces of graphite form in the solution.
  4. Filter the solution. If it is blue colored, repeat electrolysis.
  5. When a colorless solution is obtained, boil down to concentrate the prepared sulfuric acid.
  6. Test sulfuric acid with litmus paper.

Scientific background

There is reduction of copper ions on the cathode. Copper metal is formed.

Oxidation of water occurs on the anode, forming oxygen and H+ ions.

Thus SO42- and H+ ions stay in the solution. When all copper ions are removed from the solution, and the solution is boiled down, about 40% sulfuric acid may be obtained.


Published on 14 September 2015

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