Literary Review of Copper

Copper is obtained from the metallurgical process of Copper ore. It is available in the form of wires, sheets or rods of Copper which is produced by an electrolytic process. Minerals of the copper are widely distributed in the various countries of the world. International distribution of copper is as follows: South America parallel, North America, Southern part of Africa, Russia, South West part of Europe and South East part of Asia, Australia and in Afghanistan the ores of the copper and the mines are found. Copper in India is procured in considerable amount since long back, mainly in Rajasthan, Bihar, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and U.P. Ores of the copper are present in Himalaya areas as Kulu, Garhwal, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. In ancient days it was produced by smelting in some of the districts of Bihar. Nowadays, copper is procured mainly from the Khetri district of Rajasthan.

Historical Aspect:

Copper, as native copper, is one of the few metals to occur naturally as an un-compounded mineral. Copper was known to some of the oldest Civilizations on record, and has a history of use that is at least 10,000 years old. It is probable that gold and meteoritic iron were the only metals used by humans before copper. By 5000 BC, there are signs of copper smelting: the refining of copper from simple copper compounds such as malachite or azurite. Copper smelting appears to have been developed independently in several parts of the world. Copper was found extensively in the Indus Valley Civilization by the 3rd millennium BC. Over the course of centuries; experience with copper has assisted the development of other metals. Alloying of copper with zinc or tin to make brass or bronze was practiced soon after the discovery of copper itself. The Egyptians found that adding a small amount of tin made the metal easier to cast, so copper-tin (bronze) alloys were found in Egypt almost as soon as copper was found.

The use of bronze became so widespread in Europe approximately from 2500 BC to 600 BC that it has been named the Bronze Age.The transitional period in certain regions between the preceding Neolithic period and the Bronze Age is termed the Chalcolithic ("copper-stone"), with some high-purity copper tools being used alongside stone tools. In Greek language, the metal was known by the name ‘chalkos’. In Roman times, it became known as ‘aes Cyprium’ (aes being the generic Latin term for copper alloys such as bronze and other metals, and Cyprium because so much of it was mined in Cyprus). From this, the phrase was simplified to cuprum, hence the English copper. Copper was associated with the goddess Aphrodite/Venus in mythology and alchemy, owing to its lustrous beauty, its ancient use also known in antiquity, and Venus was assigned to copper. Copper has also played an important cultural role, particularly in currency. Romans in the 6th through 3rd centuries B.C. used copper lumps as money. At first, just the copper itself was valued, but gradually the shape and look of the copper became more important. As far as medicinal usage is concerned, ancient Egyptians (~2400 B.C.) used copper for sterilizing wounds and drinking water, and as time passed, (~1500 B.C.) for headaches, burns, and itching. Hippocrates (~400 B.C.) used copper to treat leg ulcers associated with varicose veins. In the early 1800s, it was discovered that copper wire could be used as a conductor, but it wasn't until 1990 that copper, in oxide form, was discovered for use as a superconducting material. Around then it was also discovered that the amount and type of alloying element (e.g. tin) would affect the tones of bells, allowing for a variety of rich sounds, leading to bell casting, another common use for copper and its alloys.

Classification of Copper:

Metal – Transition metal (It has incomplete inner shell of electrons)
Non ferrous heavy metal
Position in Periodic Table - Series I B of Periodic table

The metals of odd series or sub group ‘B’ elements of group I (i.e. copper, silver and gold) occur in nature in the free state or else are very easily formed by the reduction of their compounds, so that they were earliest known elements. Copper shows a much closer relationship with mercury than with silver or gold.

Isotopes of Copper:
There are two naturally occurring isotopes Cu 63 (69.09%) and Cu 65 (30.91%), as well as nine artificial isotopes - Cu 58, Cu 59, Cu 60, Cu 61, Cu 62, Cu 64, Cu 66, Cu 67, Cu 68.

Important ores Copper with Copper content

No. Mineral Formula Copper content
1 Cuprite Cu2O 88.8 %
2 Chalcolate Cu2S 79.9 %
3 Covelite CuS 56.4 %
4 Bornite Cu5FeS4 63.3 %
5 Malachite CuCO3 Cu(OH)2 57.5 %
6 Azurite 2CuCO2 Cu(OH)2 55.3 %
7 Chryscolla CuSiO32H2O 36.2 %
8 Chalcopyrite CuFeS2 34.5 %

General Properties of Copper:

Symbol Cu
Atomic number 29
Atomic weight 63.57
Atomic Radius(A) 1.40
Melting point             10850 C
Specific gravity 08.94
Boiling point 2310 0C
Fracture Hackly
Hardness 2.5 to 3.0
Streak Copper red
Transparency Opaque
Color Copper red
Tenacity Malleable
Luster Metallic
Thermal conductivity 0.92 cal/sq.cm./cm/sec/0C
Specific heat 0.92 cal/g/0C
Latent heat of fusion 45.7 – 50.46 cal/g

Mechanical properties:

Copper is easily worked, being both ductile and malleable. The ease with which it can be drawn into wire makes it useful for electrical work in addition to its excellent electrical properties. Copper can be machined, although it is usually necessary to use an alloy for intricate parts, such as threaded components, to get really good machinability characteristics. Good thermal conduction makes it useful for heat sinks and in heat exchangers. Copper has good corrosion resistance, but not as good as gold. It has excellent brazing and soldering properties and can also be welded, although best results are obtained with gas metal arc welding.

Chemical Properties of Copper:

Copper is in the list of less reactive metals due to its high ionization potential and heat of sublimation and positiveness of standard reduction potential.

  1. Reaction with Air and oxygen:

    Does not react with dry air but in moist air forms basics copper carbonate (CuCO3, Cu(OH)2) and basic copper sulphate (CuS04, 3Cu(OH)2) on the surface. On heating in presence of oxygen it forms cuprous oxide or cupric oxide.
  2. Reaction with acids:

    Action with diluted/concentrated HCL:

    Copper does not react with dilute or concentrated HCL. But in excess of air, copper reacts with diluted HCL in following manner.

    Cu + 4HCL + O2         →        2CuCl2 + 2H2

  3. Action with Sulphuric acid:

    It has got no action with dilute H2SO4. But in excess of air, Copper reacts with diluted H2SO4 as follows:

    Cu + 2H2SO4 + O2   →     2CuSO4 + 2H2O
    With concentrated H2SO4 on heating it produces SO2.
    Cu+ 2 H2S04 → CuSO4 + S02 + H2O
  4. Action with Nitric acid: Copper reacts with both diluted and concentrated HNO3
    Cu + Dil. 8HNO3 →3 Cu(NO3) + 2NO + 4H2O
    Cu + 4HNO3 (conc.) → Cu(NO3)2 + 2NO2 + 2H2O
  5. Action with Chlorine:

    Fine powder of Copper burns in chlorine gas and produces cupric chloride.

    Cu + Cl2 → CuCl2
  6. Replacement reaction:

    Being as more reactive it replaces the place of silver from silver nitrate solution.

    2AgN03 + Cu → Cu (NO3)2 + 2Ag

Uses of Copper:

  1. In formation of alloys. For example - Brass and Bronze
  2. For preparation of coins
  3. For electrical good manufacturing
  4. In electroplating and electrotyping
  5. Preparation of compounds for fungicides & insecticides

Toxicity of Copper and Its Compounds:

Copper is a heavy metal, reddish in colour. It is non-toxic in metallic state such as lead or mercury. But when it is alloyed with other metals and converted into fine powder state then it acts as a poison.There are no records of any occupational diseases attributable to copper among people who have worked for many years with the metal or its salts. Indeed it has sometimes been said that such people often appear healthier and generally suffer less from colds and other ailments. Toxicity can occur from eating acidic food that has been cooked with copper cookware. Cirrhosis of the liver in children (Indian Childhood Cirrhosis) has been linked to boiling milk in copper cookware. The Merck Manual states that recent studies suggest that a genetic defect is associated with this cirrhosis. Since copper is actively excreted by the normal body, chronic copper toxicosis in humans without a genetic defect in copper handling has not been demonstrated. However, large amounts (gram quantities) of copper salts taken in suicide attempts have produced acute copper toxicity in normal humans.

Food Sources of Copper

Whole grain cereals Prunes
Fruits Organ meats
Legumes Poultry
Leafy green vegetables Dark chocolates
Oysters Soybeans
Nuts Sunflower seeds
Cherries Shellfish

Nutritional value:

  • Work with Iron, Zinc, Manganese and B6
  • Needed in the utilization of Vitamin C.
  • Should be balanced with Zinc in a 1:10 ratio.
  • Copper and pantothenic acid are related to hair colour.
  • Excess copper destroys Vitamin C.
  • Necessary for the absorption of Iron.
  • A small quantity enhances the physiological utilisation of Iron.
  • Found in copper plumbing, vitamin and mineral pills, tea bags, cooking utensils.
  • Zinc, Manganese, Vitamin C and B6, folic acid, Sulphur and Molybdenum is also copper antagonists, chelators or binders.

Metabolism of copper in Human Body:

Copper is an indispensable constituent of all living tissues and is essential for the normal growth and well being of plants and animals. Where it is lacking it has to be supplied. The minute quantities of copper needed for human health are usually obtained through the normal intake of food and water. Because of its role in facilitating iron uptake, copper deficiency can often produce anaemia like symptoms. Conversely, an accumulation of copper in body tissues is believed to cause the symptoms of Wilson's disease in humans.

Absorption of copper:

Hydroxides and iodides of copper are readily absorbed. Copper from the organic substances like wheat, germ, alpha – alpha, pork heart and liver, copper citrate, copper tyrosine is readily absorbed by severely anaemic rats. Some studies have shown that copper is absorbed from upper jejunal loops but not in the middle and distal loops.

Excretion of copper:

It is mainly through kidney and traces in sweating. It is also excreted through intestinal tract. Copper concentration rises in bile after I.V. administration of copper after 2-4 hours. Normal excretion of copper in urine is about 0.25 mg/hour. There is no relation between administration or copper intake and excretion.

Storage of Copper in body:

Human body contains 100-150 mg of copper.Amount of copper in different parts of body as follows:

Sr. No. Parts of the body Approx. wt. of copper
1. Spleen 2-5 mg
2. Liver 18 mg
3. Pancreas 4-28 mg
4. Brain 23-50 mg
5. Heart 10-12 mg
6. Lungs 17 mg
7. Muscle 64 mg
8. Bone 6 mg /kg of dry tissue
9. Hair 15 mg

Pharmaco-therapeutics of Copper and its Compounds:

Very small amount of copper is necessary for proper absorption of iron from G.I.T. It also mobilizes iron from its storage tissue due to its catalyzing property.
It helps in the formation of haemoglobin. Daily need of copper for haemopoitic purpose is for 2 mg/day. In blood, maximum percentage of copper is in haemoglobin. In anaemic child combination of copper with iron produces more rapid recovery than iron alone.

Copper Sulphate 1 – 3 mg/day given orally with milk or fruit juice is effective for children. It is also bacteriostatic in action. As being irritant for G.I.T. Copper salts were used frequently for the purpose of emesis. Its high quantity absorbed in the system may cause toxic symptoms, but it will be minimal because of prompt emesis due to copper. Copper plays an important role in minute quantities enhancing the secretion of prostaglandins.

Literary review of drugs used for Samanya Shodhana, Vishesha Shodhana and Marana of Tamra

Drugs used in preparation of Tamra bhasma

Samanya Shodhana Vishesha Shodhana Maarana
Kanjee Kanjee Lime juice
Takra Saindhava Mercury
Kulattha Kvaatha Gomutra Sulphur
Tila Taila


More by :  Dr. Shiv Dwivedi

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