What Is Copper Used For

Curious what is copper used for? As one of the oldest metals man has mined and worked, copper has found many uses over the years, and it remains one of the most used commodities today.

Copper as currency.
The tradition of using copper as currency dates back to around 600 BC. Ancient Romans used to exchange copper lumps as a form of currency, and the value was based on the value of the copper lump. Later emperors began to shape the lumps into coins, and some of the earliest copper coins were the coins of Julius Caesar.

In the modern day, American pennies were made of copper up until 1982, when the price of copper became so high that it was worth more than the value of the penny itself. At that point, the United States Mint switched over to making copper pennies with 97.5% zinc, with a thin layer of copper coating.

Copper in construction.
Because copper doesn't rust and virtually doesn't corrode, it's extremely useful in plumbing as copper piping. Copper piping crafted in ancient Egypt is still fully functional today, thousands of years later. Many high-end construction projects use copper piping to avoid long-term maintenance problems down the road. Copper is also a great conductor for electricity, so it's used in many wires. Building construction is the single largest market for copper.

Refrigeration and air conditioning.
Because copper is easy to work and conducts heat well, it's frequently used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems. However, the high cost of these components raises the cost of these systems.

Copper cookware.
Because copper conducts heat so well, it's widely used in cookware. Copper pots and pans conduct heat evenly and well, and they are highly coveted in the cooking world. However, copper can be reactive with many foods, so the cooking surface must be coated with another metal to prevent the copper from reacting with the food. Copper cookware is used primarily in professional settings because of its high cost.

Copper in computing.
Copper also makes a great superconductor. This has lead to widespread use of copper in computer processors, circuit board construction and other advanced electronics applications.

Medical applications.
Copper is used in various medical applications, from measuring and tracing blood flow to medical imaging. Certain copper isotopes are also used in radiation therapy to treat cancer.

Copper alloys.
Copper alloys are some of the most important and widely used alloys that serve a variety of applications. Brass, for example, is one of the most widely used metals for musical instruments. Copper alloys are used in construction materials and even the jewelry industry.

Copper in art.
Copper has put in appearances in the art world throughout the millennia. Copper and bronze are used in sculpture, and copper is also used in decorative pieces, such as headdresses and jewelry.

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