Identifying The Main Uses Of Copper Sulphate

Copper sulphate is one of the most important industrial chemicals in use. Its extensive use in agriculture, health and medicine and various areas in industries call for continual production of this substance. This compound is prepared by the chemical reaction of sulphuric acid to a variety of cupric or copper (II) compounds like copper (II) oxide. Another way to prepare the substance is through the electrolysis of sulphuric acid with copper electrodes.

Copper sulphate has been used several thousand years ago. Ancient Egyptian civilization had discovered the purpose of copper sulphate in dyeing. This purpose has survived until today, more than five thousand years after its inception. The Greeks saw some of the medical uses of the bluish substance. It was used to treat some diseases of the lungs. Today a wide range of applications of copper sulphate can be seen in many fields.

1. Agricultural uses

Copper sulphate, which commonly occurs in nature as copper sulphate pentahydrate, is one of the most important substances widely utilized in agriculture because of its fungicidal and pesticidal properties. It is mixed with lime to form Bordeaux mixture which controls fungal growth that may damage different crops. Perhaps one of the most important uses of copper sulphate is its fungicidal abilities. For instance, the application of cupric sulphate and ammonium carbonate prevents damping off in seedlings. Damping off is the rotting of young shoots of seedlings. Copper sulphate and other copper compounds control fungal diseases in apples, almonds, avocadoes, bananas, beans, barley, carrots, cherries, chrysanthemums, rice, roses, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, etc.

It was in 1761 when the fungicidal properties of copper sulphate were discovered in agriculture. Farmers found out that seeds soaked in dilute solutions of copper sulphate were not infected with fungus. It has been practiced since then. The same thing was done to cereal seeds in the 1800s. The popular Bordeaux mixture came as a breakthrough sometime in the late 19th century when grapes, smeared with copper sulphate and lime to make them look distasteful, became free from downy mildew. That instance heralded the beginning of the application of copper sulphate in farming. Bordeaux mixture is composed of copper sulphate and lime. Another important mixture is the Burgundy mixture derived from the mentioned copper compound and sodium carbonate. Both are used to control fungus when properly applied at right amounts.

Aside from fungicidal properties, the compound is also used to treat copper deficiency in soils. Soils with insufficient copper cannot supply plants well and animals grazing on copper deficient plants will in turn become copper deficient too.

Altogether, these properties of copper sulphate and other copper compounds have become increasingly useful in farming and in livestock.

2. Health-related and medical uses

The ability of cupric sulphate to kill fungi, bacteria, and parasites is not only confined in the fields of agriculture. This ability is used to keep algal blooms away from swimming pools and water reservoirs. Athletes foot can be controlled in tropical countries by including the substance in floor cleaning mixture. Copper sulphate also eradicates the snails that harbor the parasite that causes Schistosomiasis in humans. It kills mosquito larvae which causes malaria. In medicine it is used in the preparation of various pharmaceutical products.

3. Industrial uses

Copper sulphate is an additive in adhesives. It is used to preserve timber and ward off wood worms and to avoid wood rot. In concrete, it serves both as a coloring ingredient and an antiseptic. It prevents mold growth in building materials. It keeps tree roots from growing in sewerage systems. It is a coloring agent for glass, cement, and ceramics. It has other various chemical uses a catalyst, an electrolyte, and an ingredient in preparations of other chemicals. It is used in precipitation reactions and purification processes.