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"How do you make copper sulphate crystals?"

An ongoing discussion beginning back in 2005 ...


Q. I can't get the copper sulfate [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] crystals to grow!

Tiffinee B.
student - Palmerston, North New Zealand

A. Hi,
It would appear that you started a project without doing enough research before starting. The following is a short and very crude reply, meaning that you should do some accurate research.
To get a crystal to grow, you probably started with a fine crystal or powder that you put into solution. High purity material helps, reagent grade or USP or ACS would be great.
Major factor here is to use distilled water, not tap water. If it has been ozonated, boil it for a minute and cool.
To a small amount of water in a small glass dish, add your powder and stir well. I would probably use a glass bottle with a non metallic cap and shake it for several minutes. You should have some traces of powder that cannot dissolve. If you have a lot, add another mL of water and shake some more. Repeat as required. You now possess a saturated solution. Decant most of the liquid into a dish (no crystals!). As the water evaporates, the solution will become supersaturated and then start to drop crystals out. Do not touch the dish or you will get lots of very tiny crystals and NO big ones. As time goes on, the crystals will grow larger rather than dropping out new ones.
To get even larger crystals, redissolve only the largest crystals and start over, only this time partially cover the dish so that evaporation is even slower.
Large beautiful crystals takes weeks, not hours or days, but you can grow some huge ones and they are beautiful. This will get you started. Do some homework and then tell me if I left anything out.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


Q. Help, I need to know how to make copper-sulphate crystals. Our class is doing an experiment and I really need to know. But the information provided by the website, so far, hasn't proved very helpful! Can someone please help me!?

Alisha [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
High-School Student - Hobart, Tasmania


Q. I really need to know how to grow copper sulphate crystals. Like Alish, none of the information is really helping. Anyone that knows can they please help please. Need answer for assignment.

Taunoa B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Student - Nsw Australia

April 25, 2011

A. Hi, Alisha. Hi, Taunoa.

Are you saying that you followed Mr. Watts instructions weeks ago but no crystals are growing yet? He seems to have told you in detail exactly what to do -- so please take the time to clarify what you mean when you say the information hasn't proved very helpful. Thanks!


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 17, 2008

Q. Method:

Sulphuric acid was added into a beaker.
The solvent was heated with a Bunsen burner, on top of a gauze and a tripod.
As it was being heated, small scoops of copper oxide were added to the solvent and it was stirred by a stirring rod to make the process quicker.
When the solution was blue and with no excess solute, some more copper oxide was added. This step was repeated until excess copper oxide were sighted at the bottom of the beaker. This made sure that the solution is saturated.
After that, the saturated solution was poured through a funnel, which had a filter paper inside, and into an evaporating basin. The excess copper oxide solute was stuck in the filter paper. The liquid coming out were water and copper sulphate.
The solution, placed in the evaporating basin, was heated with a Bunsen burner, on top of a gauze and a tripod to crystallize it.
The solution was heated until little blue crystals started to form. The process was stopped at the point because if you heat too much, the crystals would become harmed and turn white.
Finally, the evaporating basin was placed under the sun to crystallize.

My Results:

Step 3: When the hydrochloric acid reacted with the small scoops of copper oxide, the solution became black.

Step 7: Little blue glassy translucent copper sulphate crystals were seen at the top edge of the solution around the bowl.

After a few days, a couple of little icy blue, glassy, translucent copper sulphate crystals were sighted at the sides of the basin and at the bottom.

Wen Por Lee
- Bangkok, Thailand

September 27, 2008

A. umm, Wen Por Lee I think you are mistaken on what you saw. its impossible for hydrochloric acid to produce a sulphate salt. maybe you were thinking of copper chloride (a slightly different color). the reaction is H2SO4 + CuO = CuSO4 + H20
sulphuric acid + copper oxide = copper sulphate + water

Jeffery Morrison
- Panama city Florida USA

March 7, 2009

A. While adding the Copper Oxide to the Solution of Sulphuric Acid, pH is also a very key point in predicting that whether reaction is complete or not.
Before starting the addition of Copper Oxide the pH of solution of Sulfuric Acid will be 1 or close to it. When while adding the copper oxide when the pH will reach 4 it will be the end point of the reaction and addition of Copper Oxide at that point will have to be terminated.

Faisal Bhatti
Research and Development - Lahore Punjab Pakistan

sidebar March 17, 2010

!! You guys do know that when you touch these that you can get skin cancer or other skin diseases!

Meg Hewitt
- Wellington, New Zealand

Cutting for Stone
by Abraham Verghese
from Abe Books

Affiliate Link
(finishing.com earns commission on what you buy after clicking)

March 2010

Hi, Meg. Thanks for the reminder that people should always wear gloves when handling chemicals!

But could you provide a reference please, seeing as people actually consumed tiny amounts of copper sulphate in the old days. The wonderful novel "Cutting for Stone" describes the use of copper sulphate crystals in treating "proud flesh", and Letter 22762 includes an entry from a Scottish medical doctor who remembers it being used for that purpose.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 26, 2011

Q. How can we obtain crystals of copper sulphate from the solution, and another question is that why scientist call a substance, such as copper oxide, that can neutralize an acid?

Ayesha Irfan
- Pakistan

July 29, 2011

A. Hi, Ayesha. I can't understand you asking your first question because three people on this page have already answered it. Please try to express your question in terms of the answers already provided rather than just starting over. Thanks.

To your second question, many substances can neutralize an acid. A "base" is the most direct answer, for example
H2SO4 + 2NaOH => 2NaSO4 + 2 H2O But metals, metal oxides, and metal salts can also neutralize acids. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 25, 2013

Q. Hi Ted Mooney. I want to know: if we have large quantity of copper oxide ore how we can make it copper sulphate. One of my friends is from Australia; he told me to make a pond (TUB) put the copper oxide ore in it and add the sulphuric acid and water. After some time I will get the copper sulphate. But as I watch some videos they also heat it; how can I heat a big pond (tub). Should I make small tanks and do it in small tanks?
I am not good in chemistry, so your answer means very much to me. Waiting for your reply.
Thanks and best regards

Raja Ali
- Taipei, Taiwan

July 2013

A. Hi Raja. Apologies, but if you are "not good in chemistry" then you must bring into the project someone who is good at chemistry. You simply cannot, and without safety/haz-mat training, deal with a "large quantity of copper oxide ore" and consequent large quantities of powerful acids based on youtube videos and casual internet forum responses that are intended to help schoolchildren complete their chemistry assignments under the supervision of their science teacher. Sorry!


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 28, 2018

Q. hi guys the truth is that I don't get it pliiiiz try to explain again coz it is my project rom school

angela nyikadzino
- harare,zimbae

August 2018

A. Hi Angela. We would love for you to be very successful in school and to learn a lot. But 'the truth is' many students who post here actually have no idea what the teacher wants. What they should be learning is that the mature thing to do is tell the teacher that they don't understand. But rather than doing that, they post here hoping that we who went to school decades ago can successfully guess what a teacher 10,000 miles away wants from you :-)

It hurts kids' educations for us to be enablers like that, so I am not going to guess what the teacher wants.

But if you want to grow copper sulphate crystals, please do exactly what James Watts said --
- You need to start with pure copper sulphate powder. Has the teacher made it available to you?
- Do you have distilled water available as he noted?
- Do you have a glass bottle with a non-metal cap, and a glass bowl/dish?
- Put a teaspoonful or two of the copper sulphate powder into the bottle and add enough distilled water to wet it.
- Cap it and shake it, and notice that you cannot dissolve all the powder because there isn't enough water, some powder will settle out when you stop shaking.
- Add just a tiny bit more water and shake again.
- Repeat the same process many times until: when you've added just a very tiny amount more water every bit of the copper sulphate powder dissolves. That is your clue that the solution is just saturated (that amount of water can't dissolve any more powder than it has, and with any less water the copper cannot all remain in solution). If you rushed it, and added more water than you had to, nothing will happen until all that excess water has evaporated. That would be fine if you had a whole summer to wait, but you don't, so don't rush it, just a little water at a time.
- When no powder settles anymore, pour the solution into a glass bowl and put it somewhere where you won't have any need to move it or even touch it for several days.
- As water very slowly evaporates, the copper sulphate has to slowly come back out of solution; but with a little luck and absolute stillness, the presence of infinitesimal crystals will serve as seeds so the copper comes out growing as crystals rather than turning back into powder. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 2, 2018

A. It's easy to find - online - a chart of the solubility of copper sulfate in water. You can make a saturated solution at a higher temperature and when it cools, the copper sulfate will form crystals on the bottom. The slower the cooling, be better the crystal formation.

Tom Rochester
CTO - Jackson, Michigan, USA
Plating Systems & Technologies, Inc.
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