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Copper(II) sulfate

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Title: Copper(II) sulfate  
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Collection: Copper Compounds, Desiccants, Herbicides, Sulfates
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Copper(II) sulfate

Copper(II) sulfate
Anhydrous CuSO4 powder
Crystals of CuSO4·5H2O
Ball-and-stick model of CuSO4
Space-filling model CuSO4
IUPAC name
Copper(II) sulfate
Other names
Cupric sulfate
Blue vitriol (pentahydrate)
Bluestone (pentahydrate)
Bonattite (trihydrate mineral)
Boothite (heptahydrate mineral)
Chalcanthite (pentahydrate mineral)
Chalcocyanite (mineral)
(pentahydrate) N
(trihydrate) N
ATC code V03
ChemSpider  Y
EC number 231-847-6
Jmol-3D images Image
RTECS number GL8800000 (anhydrous)
GL8900000 (pentahydrate)
CuSO4 (anhydrous)
CuSO4·5H2O (pentahydrate)
Molar mass 159.609 g/mol (anhydrous)[1]
249.685 g/mol (pentahydrate)[1]
Appearance gray-white (anhydrous)
blue (pentahydrate)
Density 3.60 g/cm3 (anhydrous)[1]
2.286 g/cm3 (pentahydrate)[1]
Melting point 110 °C (230 °F; 383 K) decomposes (·5H2O)[1]
<560 °C decomposes[1]
1.055 molal (10 °C)
1.26 molal (20 °C)
1.502 molal (30 °C)[2]
Solubility anhydrous
insoluble in ethanol[1]
soluble in methanol[1]
10.4 g/L (18 °C)
insoluble in ethanol
1.724–1.739 (anhydrous)[3]
1.514–1.544 (pentahydrate)[4]
Orthorhombic (anhydrous, chalcocyanite), space group Pnma, oP24, a = 0.839 nm, b = 0.669 nm, c = 0.483 nm.[5]
Triclinic (pentahydrate), space group P1, aP22, a = 0.5986 nm, b = 0.6141 nm, c = 1.0736 nm, α = 77.333°, β = 82.267°, γ = 72.567°[6]
−769.98 kJ/mol
5 J K−1 mol−1
Safety data sheet anhydrous
Harmful (Xn)
Irritant (Xi)
Dangerous for the environment (N)
R-phrases R50/53
S-phrases (S2), S22, S60, S61
NFPA 704
Flash point Non-inflammable
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
LD50 (Median dose)
300 mg/kg (oral, rat)[7]
US health exposure limits (NIOSH):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 1 mg/m3 (as Cu)[8]
REL (Recommended)
TWA 1 mg/m3 (as Cu)[8]
TWA 100 mg/m3 (as Cu)[8]
Related compounds
Other cations
Iron(II) sulfate
Manganese(II) sulfate
Nickel(II) sulfate
Zinc sulfate
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
 N  (: Y/N?)

Copper (II) sulfate, also known as cupric sulfate or copper sulphate, is the chemical formula CuSO4.

This salt exists as a series of compounds that differ in their degree of hydration. The anhydrous form is a pale green or gray-white powder, whereas the pentahydrate (CuSO4·5H2O), the most commonly encountered salt, is bright blue. Copper (II) sulfate exothermically dissolves in water to give the aquo complex [Cu(H2O)6]2+, which has octahedral molecular geometry and is paramagnetic. Other names for copper(II) sulfate are "blue vitriol" and "bluestone".[9]


  • Preparation and occurrence 1
  • Chemical properties 2
  • Uses 3
    • As a herbicide, fungicide and pesticide 3.1
    • Niche uses 3.2
      • Analytical reagent 3.2.1
      • Organic synthesis 3.2.2
      • Chemistry education 3.2.3
      • Medical and public health 3.2.4
      • Art 3.2.5
      • Etching 3.2.6
      • Dyeing 3.2.7
  • Toxicological effects 4
    • Environmental toxicity 4.1
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7

Preparation and occurrence

Preparation of copper (II) sulfate by electrolyzing sulfuric acid, using copper electrodes

Copper sulfate is produced industrially by treating copper metal with hot concentrated sulfuric acid or its oxides with dilute sulfuric acid. For laboratory use, copper sulfate is usually purchased. Copper sulfate can also be produced by slowly leaching low grade copper ore in air; bacteria may be used to hasten the process.[10]

Commercial copper sulfate is usually about 98% pure copper sulfate, and may contain traces of water. Anhydrous Copper sulfate is 39.81 percent copper and 60.19 percent sulfate by mass, and in its blue, hydrous form, it is 25.47% copper, 38.47% sulfate (12.82% sulfur) and 36.06% water by mass. Four types of crystal size are provided based on its usage: large crystals (10-40mm), small crystals (2-10 mm), snow crystals (less than 2 mm), and windswept powder (less than 0.15 mm).[11]

The anhydrous form occurs as a rare mineral known as chalcocyanite. The hydrated copper sulfate occurs in nature as chalcanthite (pentahydrate), and two more rare ones: bonattite (trihydrate) and boothite (heptahydrate).

The rare mineral boothite (CuSO4·7H2O)

Chemical properties

Copper (II) sulfate pentahydrate decomposes before melting at 150 °C (302 °F), losing two water molecules at 63 °C (145 °F), followed by two more at 109 °C (228 °F) and the final water molecule at 200 °C (392 °F).[12][13] Dehydration proceeds by decomposition of the tetraaquacopper(2+) moiety, two opposing aqua groups are lost to give a diaquacopper(2+) moiety. The second dehydration step occurs with the final two aqua groups are lost. Complete dehydration occurs when the only unbound water molecule is lost. At 650 °C (1,202 °F), copper (II) sulfate decomposes into copper (II) oxide (CuO) and sulfur trioxide (SO3).

Copper sulfate reacts with concentrated hydrochloric acid to give tetrachlorocuprate(II):

Cu2+ + 4 ClCuCl2−

It also reacts with more reducing metals to give copper metal and the corresponding oxidized metal, e.g.

CuSO4 + ZnZnSO4 +Cu


As a herbicide, fungicide and pesticide

Copper sulfate pentahydrate is a fungicide.[14] However, some fungi are capable of adapting to elevated levels of copper ions.[15] Mixed with lime it is called Bordeaux mixture and used to control fungus on grapes, melons, and other berries.[16]

Cu2+ + SO42- + Ca2++ 2(OH)- →Cu(OH)2+CaSO4

Another application is Cheshunt compound, a mixture of copper sulfate and ammonium carbonate used in horticulture to prevent damping off in seedlings. Its use as a herbicide is not agricultural, but instead for control of invasive aquatic plants and the roots of plants near pipes containing water. It is used in swimming pools as an algicide. A dilute solution of copper sulfate is used to treat aquarium fish for parasitic infections,[17] and is also used to remove snails from aquariums. Copper ions are highly toxic to fish, so care must be taken with the dosage. Most species of algae can be controlled with very low concentrations of copper sulfate. Copper sulfate inhibits growth of bacteria such as Escherichia coli.

For most of the twentieth century, chromated copper arsenate (CCA) was the dominant type of wood preservation for uses other than deep driven piles, utility poles, and railroad ties. To make pressure-treated wood, a large cylinder is filled with an aqueous chemical bath. Copper sulfate pentahydrate is dissolved in the water along with other additives prior to the lumber being placed inside the cylinder. When the cylinder is pressurized, the chemicals are absorbed by the wood, giving the wood fungicidal, insecticidal, and UV-light-reflecting properties that help preserve it.

Niche uses

Copper(II) sulfate has attracted many niche applications over the centuries. In industry copper sulfate has multiple applications. In printing it is an additive to book binding pastes and glues to prevent paper from insect bites; in building it is an additive to concrete to provide water resistance and to make it antiseptic. Copper sulfate can also be used as a coloring ingredient in artworks, especially glasses and potteries.[18] Copper sulfate is also used in firework manufacture as a blue coloring agent, but it is not safe to mix copper sulfate with chlorates when mixing firework powders.[19]

Analytical reagent

Several chemical tests utilize copper sulfate. It is used in Fehling's solution and Benedict's solution to test for reducing sugars, which reduce the soluble blue copper(II) sulfate to insoluble red copper(I) oxide. Copper(II) sulfate is also used in the Biuret reagent to test for proteins.

Copper sulfate is also used to test blood for anemia. The blood is tested by dropping it into a solution of copper sulfate of known specific gravity – blood which contains sufficient hemoglobin sinks rapidly due to its density, whereas blood which does not sink or sinks slowly has insufficient amount of hemoglobin.[20]

In a flame test, its copper ions emit a deep green light, a much deeper green than the flame test for barium.

Organic synthesis

Copper sulfate is employed at a limited level in

  • International Chemical Safety Card 0751
  • International Chemical Safety Card 1416
  • National Pollutant Inventory – Copper and compounds fact sheet

External links

  • Haynes, William M., ed. (2011). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (92nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.  


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Haynes, p. 4.62
  2. ^ Haynes, p. 5.199
  3. ^ Anthony, John W.; Bideaux, Richard A.; Bladh, Kenneth W. and Nichols, Monte C., ed. (2003). "Chalcocyanite". Handbook of Mineralogy (PDF). V. Borates, Carbonates, Sulfates. Chantilly, VA, US: Mineralogical Society of America.  
  4. ^ Haynes, p. 10.240
  5. ^ Kokkoros, P. A.; Rentzeperis, P. J. (1958). "The crystal structure of the anhydrous sulphates of copper and zinc". Acta Crystallographica 11 (5): 361–364.  
  6. ^ Bacon, G. E.; Titterton, D. H. (1975). "Neutron-diffraction studies of CuSO4 · 5H2O and CuSO4 · 5D2O". Z. Kristallogr. 141 (5–6): 330–341.  
  7. ^ Cupric sulfate. US National Institutes of Health
  8. ^ a b c "NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards #0150".  
  9. ^ "Copper (II) sulfate MSDS".  
  10. ^ "Uses of Copper Compounds: Copper Sulphate". Copper Development Association Inc. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Uses of Copper Compounds: Copper Sulphate". Copper Development Association Inc. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Andrew Knox Galwey; Michael E. Brown (1999). Thermal decomposition of ionic solids. Elsevier. pp. 228–229.  
  13. ^ Wiberg, Egon; Nils Wiberg; Arnold Frederick Holleman (2001). Inorganic chemistry. Academic Press. p. 1263.  
  14. ^ Johnson, George Fiske (1935). "The Early History of Copper Fungicides". Agricultural History 9 (2): 67–79.  
  15. ^ Parry, K. E.; Wood, R. K. S. (1958). "The adaption of fungi to fungicides: Adaption to copper and mercury salts". Annals of Applied Biology 46 (3): 446.  
  16. ^ "Uses of Copper Compounds: Copper Sulfate's Role in Agriculture". Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  17. ^ "All About Copper Sulfate". National Fish Pharmaceuticals. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  18. ^ Copper Development Association. "Uses of Copper Compounds: Table A - Uses of Copper Sulphate". copper. Copper Development Association Inc. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Partin, Lee. "The Blues: Part 2". skylighter. Skylighter.Inc. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Estridge, Barbara H.; Anna P. Reynolds; Norma J. Walters (2000). Basic Medical Laboratory Techniques. Thomson Delmar Learning. p. 166.  
  21. ^ Hoffman, R. V. (2001). Copper(II) Sulfate, in Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis. John Wiley & Sons.  
  22. ^ Philip J. Kocienski (2005). Protecting Groups. Thieme. p. 58.  
  23. ^ Jefford, C. W.; Li, Y.; Wang, Y. "A Selective, Heterogeneous Oxidation using a Mixture of Potassium Permanganate and Cupric Sulfate: (3aS,7aR)-Hexahydro-(3S,6R)-Dimethyl-2(3H)-Benzofuranone".  
  24. ^ "Process for the preparation of stable copper (II) sulfate monohydrate applicable as trace element additive in animal fodders". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  25. ^ Zumdahl, Steven; DeCoste, Donald (2013). Chemical Principles. Cengage Learning. pp. 506–507.  
  26. ^ Holtzmann, N. A.; Haslam, R. H. (July 1968). "Elevation of serum copper following copper sulfate as an emetic". Pediatrics 42 (1): 189–93.  
  27. ^ Olson, Kent C. (2004). Poisoning & drug overdose. New York: Lange Medical Mooks/McGraw-Hill. p. 175.  
  28. ^ V03
  29. ^ Despommier; Gwadz; Hotez; Knirsch (June 2005). Parasitic Disease (5 ed.). NY: Apple Tree Production L.L.C. pp. Section 4.2.  
  30. ^ Copper Development Association. "Uses of Copper Compounds: Table A - Uses of Copper Sulphate". copper. Copper Development Association Inc. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  31. ^ Barqouni, Loai; Abu Shaaban, Nafiz; Elessi, Khamis; Barqouni, Loai (2014). "Interventions for treating phosphorus burns". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (6): CD008805.  
  32. ^ "Seizure homepage". Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  33. ^ "Roger Hiorns: Seizure". Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Retrieved 2015-02-22. 
  34. ^, Bordeau etch, 2009-01-18, retrieved 2011-06-02.
  35. ^, The Chemistry of using Copper Sulfate Mordant, 2009-04-12, retrieved 2011-06-02.
  36. ^, How to Electrolytically etch in copper, brass, steel, nickel silver or silver, retrieved 2015-05-2015.
  37. ^ Windholz, M., ed. 1983. The Merck Index. Tenth edition. Rahway, NJ: Merck and Company.
  38. ^ a b Guidance for reregistration of pesticide products containing copper sulfate. Fact sheet no. 100., Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pesticide Programs, 1986 
  39. ^ TOXNET. 1975–1986. National library of medicine's toxicology data network. Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB). Public Health Service. National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bethesda, MD: NLM.
  40. ^ a b Clayton, G. D. and F. E. Clayton, eds. 1981. Patty's industrial hygiene and toxicology. Third edition. Vol. 2, Part 6 Toxicology. NY: John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0-471-01280-7
  41. ^ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 1981–1986. Registry of toxic effects of chemical substances (RTECS). Cincinnati, OH: NIOSH.
  42. ^ United State Environment Protection Agency. "Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) for Coppers" (PDF). United State Environment Protection Agency. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 


Copper sulfate is highly soluble in water and therefore is easy to distribute in the environment. Copper in the soil may be from industry, motor vehicle and architectural materials.[42] According to studies, copper sulfate exists mainly in the surface soil and tends to bind organic matter. The more acidic the soil is, the less binding occurs.

Environmental toxicity

Upon oral exposure, copper sulfate is moderately toxic.[38] According to studies, the lowest dose of copper sulfate that had a toxic impact on humans is 11 mg/kg.[41] Because of its irritating effect on the gastrointestinal tract, vomiting is automatically triggered in case of the ingestion of copper sulfate. However, if copper sulfate is retained in the stomach, the symptoms can be severe. After 1–12 grams of copper sulfate are swallowed, such poisoning signs may occur as a metallic taste in the mouth, burning pain in the chest, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, discontinued urination, which leads to yellowing of the skin. In cases of copper sulfate poisoning, injury to the brain, stomach, liver, or kidneys may also occur.[40]

Copper sulfate is an irritant.[37] The usual routes by which humans can receive toxic exposure to copper sulfate are through eye or skin contact, as well as by inhaling powders and dusts.[38] Skin contact may result in itching or eczema.[39] Eye contact with copper sulfate can cause conjunctivitis, inflammation of the eyelid lining, ulceration, and clouding of the cornea.[40]

Toxicological effects

Copper sulfate can also be used as a mordant in vegetable dyeing. It often highlights the green tints of the specific dyes.


Copper sulfate is also used to etch zinc or copper plates for intaglio printmaking.[34][35] It is also used to etch designs into copper for jewelry, such as for Champlevé.[36]


In 2008, the artist Roger Hiorns filled an abandoned waterproofed council flat in London with 75,000 liters of copper sulfate solution. The solution was left to crystallize for several weeks before the flat was drained, leaving crystal-covered walls, floors and ceilings. The work is titled Seizure.[32] Since 2011, it has been on exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.[33]


Copper sulfate was also used in the past as an Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System.[28] Copper sulfate was once used to fight malaria. For example, during the 1940s in Trinidad, a malaria epidemic was caused by an increase of mosquito habitat in bromeliads growing on newly-imported immortelle (Erythrina micropteryx) trees. The epidemic was controlled by spraying dilute copper sulfate solution into these epiphytes, killing them and removing the mosquito breeding grounds.[29] Copper sulfate is also used as a molluscicide to treat bilharzia in tropical countries.[30] Cupric sulfate is also used to assist with the treatment of cutaneous phosphorus burns; however, it is not recommended for this purpose due to its toxicity.[31]

Medical and public health

Lowering a copper etching plate into the copper sulfate solution.
Cu2+ + 2e- → Cu (cathode) E°cell=0.34V

In high school and general chemistry education, copper sulfate is used as electrolyte for galvanic cells, usually as a cathode solution. For example, in a zinc/copper cell, copper ion in copper sulfate solution absorbs electron from zinc and forms metallic copper. [25]

Fe + CuSO4 → FeSO4 + Cu

In an illustration of a "single metal replacement reaction", iron is submerged in a solution of copper sulfate. Upon standing, iron reacts, producing iron(II) sulfate, and copper precipitates.

Copper sulfate is commonly included in children's chemistry sets. It is often used to grow crystals in schools and in copper plating experiments, despite its toxicity. Copper sulfate is often used to demonstrate an exothermic reaction, in which steel wool or magnesium ribbon is placed in an aqueous solution of CuSO4. It is used to demonstrate the principle of mineral hydration. The pentahydrate form, which is blue, is heated, turning the copper sulfate into the anhydrous form which is white, while the water that was present in the pentahydrate form evaporates. When water is then added to the anhydrous compound, it turns back into the pentahydrate form, regaining its blue color, and is known as blue vitriol.[24] Copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate can easily be produced by crystallization from solution as copper(II) sulfate is quite hygroscopic.

Chemistry education

[23] to give an oxidant for the conversion of primary alcohols.potassium permanganate The hydrated salt can be intimately mingled with [22] groups.acetal The anhydrous salt is used as a dehydrating agent for forming and manipulating [21]

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