Copper is a pure elemental metal, CU on the periodic table. It is reddish brown and is soft enough so that it is malleable which means you can shape and bend it fairly easily.
Copper oxidizes and darkens when it comes in contact with the air in the environment. It tends to get to a certain dark color but then it doesn’t get any darker.
If you’ve ever seen copper roofs that have turned green, that is what is called copper patina. The copper has reacted with the environment and rain, especially if it is acidic rain.
The same sort of thing can happen when copper comes in contact with your skin if your skin is acidic. The acids in your skin combine with copper and make copper salts which are green. They are harmless and can simply be washed off.
Copper develops a patina, much like sterling silver, but faster and darker, especially in the presence of heat, sunlight, sweat, swimming pools and chlorine water, chemicals and cosmetics. Remove copper jewelry before bathing, swimming, doing dishes, putting on lotion or makeup.
Some people love the deep rich look of vintage copper while others like the bright shiny bronze look of clean copper.
Keep cooper in a cool, dry place. If possible, store in an anti-tarnish pouch, box or cloth. If you have none of these, use a tightly sealing plastic bag to keep air from contacting the copper items. Adding a strip of anti-tarnish paper can also slow down tarnish.
Effective cleaning products for copper are highly acidic. Here are some methods for cleaning a solid copper item with no stones or gems.
- Lay a cloth on your kitchen counter, one that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Place your copper item in a glass or ceramic bowl on the cloth.
- Squirt lemon juice over the item.
- Move the item in the liquid so that all surfaces have a chance to react with the lemon juice.
- Use a toothbrush to scrub the lemon juice in the crevices.
- Wash with warm water and soap, using your toothbrush again if necessary.
Salt and Vinegar Soak
- Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup of vinegar to 2 quarts of boiling water.
- Remove the pot from the heat.
- Dip the copper item in the liquid, rinse and dry.
Lemon Juice Salt Paste
- Mix lemon juice and salt together until you have a paste which you can use for deep cleaning.
- Apply with a cloth or toothbrush as appropriate.
To make a paste that you can apply and leave on an item for a deeper cleanse, you can make a thicker paste by adding some flour to the above lemon-salt paste.
Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce have been noted to be excellent copper cleaners but more expensive than the home preparations above.To maintain the shine, you can buff a copper piece with an anti-tarnish cloth.
Reaction between copper and your skin
If you have ever had a copper bracelet that started to turn green or even turn your skin green, you might have been turned off by copper.
The green color results from an individual’s body chemistry at a particular time. Two people can wear the same bracelet and one person’s wrist will turn green and the other’s will not. A person can wear a copper bracelet one day with no green marks and the next day green marks might appear.
What does the green tell you? The green color means that your skin has become more acidic and has dissolved copper from the bracelet faster than the body can absorb it. This usually happens when we sweat, when we are stressed, when we experience dietary changes, mainly a poor diet (think junk food).
Green marks might also appear when the body is deficient in copper so is trying to obtain it a rate faster than it can absorb.
When the body is in a state of homeostasis, the copper is absorbed through the skin at the same rate it is dissolved from the bracelet so there are no green marks.
Some makers of copper jewelry, put a coating (sealer) on the copper item to preserve it and prevent the copper from interacting with the wearer’s skin. But then, the purported health benefits of wearing copper would not be achieved.
Is there a health benefit to wearing copper?
There are many who swear by the health benefits of wearing copper (copper bracelet manufacturers) while others have the opposite viewpoint.
Most everyone agrees that wearing copper jewelry does no harm.
Proponents of the benefits say copper does some or all of the following and more:
Provide necessary copper by absorption through the skin.
Relive arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome pain etc.
Clear the body of toxins.
Aid in healing.
To decide for yourself, here are some interesting articles on copper: