Copper from malachite ore

Copper was the first metal humans produced and used from around 5000-3000 BC. Copper is found in nature mainly as metal-containing minerals (ores). An example of a copper ore is green malachite. Apart from copper, only wood was available at that time as another raw material. From this they produced copper metal in simple furnaces. In the following experiment you should try to produce copper from malachite under the conditions existing in ancient times. In addition, you may find out by means of simple tests what substan-

ces are present in malachite ore besides copper.


1.     Place a small piece of malachite into the bottom of an ampoule, and close to the ampoule opening a put pinch of white copper sulfate.

more see below 

2.     Cut off the thick end at the pipette tip. Puncture the stopper of the ampoule from the bottom with the pipette tip and close the ampoule firmly therewith.

3.     In the second ampoule put some lime water.

4.     Connect the two ampoules via the tube; push one end of the tube over the pipette tip. The other end of the tube should be submerged in the lime water.

5.     Holding the ampoule containing the malachite on its side with the insulated copper wire, heat the malachite inside the ampoule with the burner.  Direct the flame tip precisely on to the malachite sample.

6.     When it is cool, transfer what is left from the malachite, together with some sawdust, into a third, clean ampoule for heating. Use the insulated copper wire as an ampoule holder again.


7.     Examine the content of the third ampoule after the end of the experiment.

First published: 2004                                                                              last modification: 04.08.2014