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How To Do The Copper Extraction Demonstration

The copper extraction demonstration takes about 10 minutes of class time. It is helpful to follow the demonstration with a brief discussion of what happened, which might take as long as 20 minutes. The discussion allows time for copper to precipitate onto a nail at the end of the demonstration. This precipitate can be passed around either during or after the discussion. The following steps outline one way in which the demonstration can be done in class.
  • Call on a student to help with the demonstration.
  • If the class is small enough (less than ~25 students), tell students to surround the demonstration table and to get as close as possible in order to be able to see the demonstration. If the class is larger than 25 students, consider using a video recorder with projection system.
  • Have the studet volunteer put on safety goggles and rubber gloves, then place an empty 250 ml beaker below the funnel on the ring stand.
  • Tell the student to slowly pour sulfuric acid from the 250 ml beaker into the funnel containing crushed malachite.
  • student pouring acid into crushed malachite to extract copper
  • The solution that drains into the beaker below the funnel should be an aqua blue color. If it is very light, have the student place the now empty beaker below the funnel and pour the blue solution through the funnel again.
  • Once the solution has drained into the beaker, ask the student to hold it up for all to see.
  • Ask another student volunteer to drop one or two freshly sanded nails into the beaker.
  • Set the beaker with the nail(s) aside for ~ 20 minutes while you lead a discussion about what happened during the demonstration.
  • After the class discussion (See More Ideas for Using the Demonstration in Class), use the tongs to extract the nail(s) from the copper solution. copper sulfate solution in beaker with nail and copper precipitate The nail(s) should be coated with a copper precipitate. Place the nail(s) on a plate or paper towel and pass it around the classroom for students to examine. Using more than one nail makes it quicker to pass around to the whole room.

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