Copper and Brass

Why Is Copper Used for Earthing and Other Applications?

When it comes to durability and utility, only a handful of metals meet most criteria. Iron and aluminum top the list of the most widely used metals, but there are others like copper and zinc that are worth mentioning.

Copper is arguably the most useful of them. While it’s not as extensively produced and utilized as other metals—mainly due to its scarceness—it is packed with many properties that make it useful for a wide range of applications. Copper is well-known in various industries for having these qualities:


– It’s the second most electrically conductive metal yet, only next to silver. Because it’s cheaper and has a higher heat tolerance than silver, most manufacturers prefer it to the latter for practical applications.

Low Thermal Expansion

– Metals tend to expand when heated. Although extremely malleable, copper works well with heat. It has a thermal expansion coefficient of 16.8, which is relatively lower than that of aluminum. This property is also one of the reasons why electrical wires are made of copper and not silver—because copper can withstand the heat produced by high voltages of electricity.

Corrosion Resistance

– Copper does not corrode like iron. It develops tarnish and patina, but its inner material can stay intact for millennia. It’s one of the most durable materials around. Some of the most well-preserved metallic artifacts are copper. They are easily recognizable by their greenish color.


– Copper is one of the easiest metals to work. You can roll, shear, or extrude it without applying heat. You can turn it into sheets and plates of different thicknesses or wires and rods of different cross-sectional areas.

Copper Rods and Their Uses

While many of the copper-based objects you know are either in a plate or sheet form, most copper-based products are actually in rod or wire form. But what exactly are copper rods used for? Where do all those copper rods and wires from top copper suppliers like Rotax Metals go?


– Electrical earthing is done by connecting a part of an equipment or structure that uses electricity to the ground to transfer discharge safely. Why is copper used for earthing? Well, because of copper’s high conductivity, it can move electrical discharge to the ground more efficiently than any other metal. Furthermore, it won’t rust even when buried into the ground for a long time. It is the reason why the earthing system is often also called the copper rod earthing system.

Power transmission

– Large electrical cables require large copper cores. These copper cores are too big they already fit under the rod category. You might even have trouble bending or curling them because of their size and density.


– A standard automobile contains about 23 kilograms of copper. Around 75 percent of this is electrical, and the rest are not. Among those components are tubes, rods, and wires of various sizes, each with a specific function that contributes to the car’s performance. The larger the vehicle, the more copper components it contains. For instance, a construction vehicle typically has about 30 kilograms of copper component in it, while a forklift truck has more or less 62 kilograms.


– You probably haven’t noticed but a lot of construction materials are copper-based. Bolts, rivets, nails, and switches are the best examples. You won’t see a lot of large copper components in a building because they have limited structural functions.

When to Get Brass Rods for Your Projects

When you are planning to build a metal structure or machine, odds are you will have to include copper or its alloys in your list of materials to buy. If what you will be building is a prototype, you can’t expect to obtain ready-made materials from a supply store. Instead, you have to purchase raw copper rods, tubes, and plates, then work them to create pieces that fit your prototype’s specifications.

Copper supplies are available in different dimensions and grades. Before buying the raw metals, make sure you know the specific types you need for your project. The last thing you want is to purchase a metal rod that’s too small for its intended use. Have a professional metalworker work your raw copper rods to achieve precise cuts.

Before even thinking of finding a metalworking shop, think of where to buy your raw copper supplies first. You’d like your materials to be of the highest quality to ensure that your inventions works, performs well, and endure constant operation since you’ll be showing them to a lot of people.

The best place to buy copper supplies is at a store that has been around for many decades, such as Rotax Metals. Their establishment tells a lot about their expertise and the quality of their products. You can tell how vast and comprehensive their catalog is by the volume of their copper sales because it means they provide for different customers with different needs.

coper sink

Does Copper Rust? Here’s What You Should Know

Over 80 percent of all known elements are metals. Experts classify them according to their physical and chemical properties, such as density, conductivity, melting point, and reaction to certain chemicals. Arguably, one of the simplest ways to classify metals is through their decomposition.

Like any other material, metals decompose when exposed to another element or compound. We call this process corrosion. While all metals corrode, some have higher corrosion resistance than others. In most cases, different metals corrode differently when exposed to the same chemical. For instance, iron turns into rust and zinc turns into a white powder when they come into contact with air or moisture.

In terms of corrosion, there are two broad classifications of metals – ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous metals contain iron, while non-ferrous metals do not. Iron is particularly notorious for being susceptible to corrosion. Oxygen is its main catalyst. When exposed to any oxygen-containing substance, such as air or water, oxygen atoms from that substance combine with iron atoms and form iron oxide or rust.

Does copper rust?

Copper is a non-ferrous metal. It doesn’t contain iron, so it won’t turn into rust when exposed to oxygen. Instead, when oxygen molecules land on copper’s surface, they combine with copper atoms and form copper oxide.

Unlike iron oxide, copper oxide does not disintegrate over time. It stays on copper’s surface and gradually thickens until it becomes copper carbonate. This new layer of material, commonly known in the metal world as patina, serves as a shield against the elements, preserving the unspoiled copper inside for a very long time.

The Pros and Cons of Copper Corrosion

Generally, corrosion is considered detrimental to metals because it takes away their useful properties. For instance, rust causes iron to lose its tensile strength, rendering it useless for construction applications as a result.

Corrosion of copper metal, on the other hand, is different. Instead of destroying the metal, it gives it an elegant and unique appearance. Furthermore, it doesn’t diminish copper’s key properties, such as workability and conductivity. If anything, the outer covering produced from corrosion gives copper added protection, allowing it to last for millennia.

Copper Alloys and the Effects of Corrosion

Copper is among the most flexible metals around. It can easily bend and stretch due to its high malleability and ductility. Unlike other metals, copper is an excellent base material for alloys to boot. Of the many different copper alloys available today, the most popular are brass (copper and zinc) and bronze (copper and tin).

To produce different versions of these alloys, metallurgists alter their content proportion. They add a miniscule amount of other metals (sometimes non-metals) into the mixture to create more variations.

Because copper alloys contain other metals, they corrode differently from how pure copper corrodes. For example, most types of brass turn golden brown during the final stage of corrosion, while copper turns green. In fact, one can tell how long copper or its alloys have been corroding by their color. This gives artisans a wealth of choices when decorating with copper-based sculptures and fixtures.

Then again, some applications require copper or its alloys to be in their pristine state. Copper-based machine components such as copper rods and plates, as an example, work optimally when their surfaces are free of patina. The same goes for copper wires; they are most electrically conductive in their purest form.

Copper corrosion is a slow process, so it’s easy to preserve the sheen of a copper, brass, or bronze item. In fact, it takes decades for copper to develop a greenish top layer. In addition, all it takes to polish these metals is an over-the-counter metal polish or homemade mix and a clean cloth. Some copper alloys, however, tarnish fast, so you have to polish them more often.

Forcing Copper Corrosion

As previously mentioned, copper corrodes very slowly. It only begins to change color after months or years of exposure to air and moisture. You may wonder how architects and interior designers are able to find copper fixtures and furniture pieces with the exact shade and color they need for their projects in a short span of time.

There’s no way they’ve been waiting for those items to patinate prior to their project’s commencement. What they actually do is force copper to corrode by applying certain chemicals on its surface. Oxygen is not the only element that can cause patina to form on copper’s surface. A lot of other harsher compounds are actually more effective, turning copper from red to brown in a matter of minutes.

Here are some of the popular methods for creating patina on copper items:

  1. Incubate the item with hot crushed boiled eggs.

    After boiling a few pieces of eggs, place and crush them in a sealable plastic bag. Bury the metal piece into the crushed egg and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. To achieve a dark shade of patina, incubate the metal piece for several hours.

  2. Spray or apply a vinegar-salt solution on your copper item.

    Both vinegar and salt are potent enough to accelerate the formation of patina on copper. With the right mixture, it can even give your copper item a bluish patina. To get a more specific shade or hue, you can add sawdust and chips into the mixture.

  3. Suspend the copper piece in saltwater and non-detergent ammonia vapor.

    Put the mixture in a container with a cap. Find a way to put the copper item in the container without touching the solution. You only need to expose it to the vapor. This means you have to close the container as well.

There are other chemicals that you can use to force corrode copper or its alloys. Ferric nitrate, sodium thiosulfate, and sulfureted potash are the most common. Each of these solutions produce a different patina color on copper. However, other factors such as temperature and humidity may also be at play.

Probably the least noticed but one of the most influential factors is the quality of the metal piece. Even the tiniest impurities within the metal could have a serious effect on patina formation. This is the reason why it’s crucial to only obtain your materials from the right copper sheet supplier. Here in North America, your best option is Rotax Metals. They have nearly a century of experience with copper and its alloys, so you can be sure that they provide the highest quality copper plates, sheets, rods, and anything in between.

Common Uses of Metals in Our Daily Life

Humanity’s 6 million years of existence represent a tiny fraction of the evolution of life on Earth as we know it. Surprisingly, our ancestors kept their primitive lifestyle for most of this period. Progressive civilizations only started to emerge around 12,000 years ago when the first metals were finally discovered.

Our ancestors called the first metals “native metals”. These include gold, copper, silver, tin, lead and iron. They were initially use to make weapons, shields, cookware, jewelry, and furniture pieces. Eventually, advancements in metalworking technology allowed for even more sophisticated applications.

The discovery of metals paved the way for industrialization to which we owe the modern world we live in today. If metals were discovered much earlier, we’d probably be a Type 1 civilization in the Kardashev scale by now. That’s because metals hold the key to limitless innovations.

Major Uses of Metals

When you think of metals, the first thing that would probably imagine is the Kinzie Street Railroad Bridge. After all this prominent landmark in Chicago is made mostly of steel, one of the most popular metals around. Structures like this bridge show us how essential metals are to modern world infrastructure. To elaborate, here are some of metals’ major uses.

  • Transportation

    – Metals like steel and titanium account for about 80 percent of the total weight of the average vehicle. Same goes for trains, airplanes, ships, and other modern-day transports. The roads, bridges, and railways these vehicles run on are either reinforced or completely made of metals, too. It’s hard to imagine the world’s transportation systems completely devoid of metals.

  • Construction

    – Metals play a major role in construction of vertical structures as well. For instance, columns and beams of low and high-rises are reinforced with steel bars. So are the hollow blocks that comprise walls and partitions. Depending on your home’s architecture, the roof trusses and the roof itself may be made of metals, too. All the equipment and tools used for construction, including power tools, hand tools, and excavators are all made mainly of metals.

  • Telecommunication

    – The towers and dishes that feed signal into your electronic devices are all made of metals. Even if they only provide structural support, metals are safer and more reliable to use than other materials due to their natural toughness and high tensile strength.

  • Security

    – Ever seen a padlock, deadbolt, knob lock, or even a bank vault made of plastic or wood? I bet you haven’t because metals, with their immense strength and toughness, are the preferred material for this application. Prison cells consist of metal bars, too, because not only are metals hard to wreck, but they are also easier to extrude into bars and plates than other materials.

  • Electricity

    – If you peel off an electrical cable’s plastic jacket or insulator, you’ll be greeted by a metallic core. Metals are an ideal wire core material because they are electrically conductive. In fact, around 95 percent of an electrical system consist of highly conductive metals, mostly copper, to allow for maximum distribution of electricity.

Uses of Metals in Our Daily Life

A lot of objects and products you use on a regular basis are made of metals or have metallic components. Identifying these everyday items can help you get a good sense of the importance of metals in our daily life. These items may range from small furniture pieces to large fixtures like the ones you can purchase from a copper sheet supplier. Here are some major examples.

  • Cutlery

    – Family meals won’t be complete without a set of shiny spoons, forks, and knives. While you can opt to use plastic or wooden cutlery, it doesn’t give off that sophisticated vibe that you can only experience with its metallic counterpart. If anything, non-metallic utensils are unappealing to most people, especially when used in a formal setting. Furthermore, metal cutlery lasts longer and is easy to maintain.

  • Money

    – Ever seen a coin made of rubber or stone? I bet you haven’t, because all modern coins are made of metal. In the past, coins were made of gold or silver, but as the value of these metal increased, they were replaced by other less valuable metals, such as copper, nickel, and zinc. These metals are both lightweight and corrosion-resistant, so they are perfect for this application. During war times, however, coin manufacturers used steel because the usual metals were hard to come by.

  • Decoration

    – The trims along your door frame, the lovely curls and shapes on your railings, or even your engraved curtain rods all complement the modern look you desire for your home. Metallic decorations have long been incorporated in interior and architectural designs because they are both elegant-looking and durable.

  • Jewelry

    – The majority of jewelry items, if not all, have metallic components. Even bracelets or hair clips that are made mostly of stone or ceramic usually have metallic chains, cords, or clasps.

  • Containers and Packaging

    – Some of the groceries you usually buy, such as preserved food and soda, come in metallic containers or wrappings.

  • Gadgets and Appliances

    – Just about every device or equipment you own is either partially or mainly metallic, be it your entertainment system, laptop, cellphone, or kitchen appliances. Non-metallic cladding or casing is often used to enhance their aesthetics.

Should you need metals for your own handicraft or architectural projects, make sure to look for a company that offers high-grade metal supplies. Premier copper, bronze, and brass suppliers in North America, such as Rotax Metals, are your best bet. Find out how long they’ve been in the business and where they source their materials. Visit their foundry to get a glimpse of the metalworking methods they use if possible.

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