Copper was the first metal to be worked by humans and we have been making things from it for thousands of years.

Today it’s still one of our most important metals, used in virtually all electronics. It is even an essential nutrient for your body.

Here is everything you ever wanted to know about … COPPER!


  • Humans have been making things from copper for at least 8,000 years. People figured out how to smelt copper by about 4500 B.C. The next technological leap was creating copper alloys; by adding tin to copper, people made a harder metal: bronze. The technological development (which occurred at different times in different regions) ushered in the Bronze Age. 
  • The Romans gave copper its name. They called it “aes cyprium” (ore from Cyprus) because, in ancient times, most copper came from Cyprus. The word was later modified to “cuprum”, from which we have our modern day “copper”.
  • Copper turns green because of an oxidation reaction; that is, it loses electrons when exposed to water and air. The resulting copper oxide is a dull green.
  • The Mi’kmaq have a long history of using minerals and metals to make tools, including copper. Examples of other materials used by the Mi’kmaq include flint, coal, jasper and agate.
  • If all of the copper wiring in an average car were laid out, it would stretch 1.5 kilometres. The copper in a car weighs about 50 pounds.
  • People need copper in their diets. The metal is an essential trace mineral, crucial for forming red blood cells. Fortunately, most people get enough copper from foods such as grains, beans, potatoes and leafy greens.
  • Copper is 100% recyclable and nearly 80% of all copper that has ever been produced is still in use today. Copper can continue to be recycled without any changes to its properties.
  • Copper has antimicrobial properties and kills bacteria, viruses and yeasts on contact. For this reason, it is often used on things like brass doorknobs and handrails in public buildings to reduce the spread of bacteria.
  • A 7000 year old awl - a tool for poking holes – is the oldest metal object ever found in the Middle East. It was discovered buried with a middle-age woman in an ancient village in Israel. The copper probably came from the Caucasus region more than 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) away.
  • In ancient Egypt, people used copper alloys to make jewelry, weapons, armor, tools and sculptures. Pyramids also used copper for water plumbing. Egyptians had the ankh symbol to represent copper.
  • Canadians will use about 1500 pounds of copper during their lifetimes in products such as computers, telephones, cars and homes.
  • The average home contains 400 pounds of copper that is used for electrical wiring, pipes and appliances.
  • The Statue of Liberty is made from 179,000 pounds of copper.
  • A wind turbine usually contains about 7000 pounds, or three tonnes, of copper.
  • Because copper is used in electrical wiring, it is essential to making green technologies work. For example, a wind turbine usually contains about 7000 pounds, or three tonnes, of copper, mainly in the wiring. Also, hybrid-electric vehicles use twice as much copper wiring as non-hybrids.

A 7000 year old awl, a tool used for poking holes. It is made of copper and is the oldest metal object ever found in the Middle East.

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