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topic 61086

Coronavirus copper plate door handles


March 27, 2020

Q. Hi. I have a gallon of Jax instant copper plating solution. Paint-on type.

affil. link

I understand that this product only lays down a very thin layer of copper but if I can get instructions of how I can prepare the surface using simple widely available materials. We would like to test the idea that copper plating public door handles will reduce the transmission of the coronavirus.

It is my understanding that the coronavirus lasts 4 hours on bare copper and 72 hours on stainless steel. That is why I am interested in the project. Thank you in advance for your advice.
sincerely Marty Stecher
Mancos C-19 Task Force
We are a volunteer task force of Mancos, and local citizens responding to the COVID-19 emergency.
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marty stecher
Community Activist - mancos colorado usa


March 2020

affil. link
Copper Roof Paint

A. Hi Marty. Obviously I'm no virology expert and can't say what percentage of copper is needed to produce the results you quote. For all I know 5% might do it or 99+% might be required.

But some copper roof paint has a lot of copper in it. One brand says it has 2 pounds of real copper flakes per gallon, which is about 25% copper so I think that might do at least something.

Nothing wrong with you using the Jax you have on hand if you can, but that's the rub. To my understanding it is not a paint but an immersion/replacement solution along the lines of the blue copper sulphate solutions we watched deposit copper onto iron nails in science class. It can only work by reacting with the metal of the door handles in question, which can only happen if
1. all paint, clearcoats, lacquers, etc., are removed from the metal; and
2. the metal of the handle causes the immersion/replacement reaction to occur; stainless steel won't, chrome won't, aluminum won't, nickel may or may not; zinc, steel, and brass probably will. But again, whether the pure copper of the plating solution is more effective than the copper in the alloys (brass & bronze) is something I wouldn't know. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading


May 4, 2020 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I am looking into copper plating some door handles due to their antimicrobial properties.

My question is how would I go about copper plating these door handles? Would it be worth doing it myself or getting a workshop to do it for me?

Richard Irvin
- Kent, United Kingdom


May 2020

A. Hi Richard. First, we need to determine the actual requirement to achieve the reputed benefits of a surface on which Covid-19 can't survive; you may already know the answer, but I have no clue. It could be that the surface must be 5% pure copper or 25%, 75% or 95%+. Because the thing is: painting a door knob with copper-bearing paint is drop dead easy; but doing copper electroplating on it can be anywhere from moderately difficult to extremely difficult depending on the material of the substrate, its condition, what coatings are currently on it, etc. If you saw copper plating in high school science class, remember that everything was carefully chosen to make it easy for a demonstration; real-world doorknobs and robust plating that won't all come off on the first hand that touches is can be hard to achieve.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading


simultaneous May 15, 2020

A. Recently I came across a ref where someone claims to deposit copper by modified 3-D printing process "The price of coating a standard office door handle is about A$50-A$100 ($33-$65), says Kennedy, although costs will fall over time." (https://www.indiatoday.in/science/story/copper-coronavirus-study-1675845-2020-05-08)
I think it would be more economical to fit new copper coated handles. PVD processes can provide excellent coatings and have the usual advantage of being environmental friendly compared to electrolytic processes.

H.R. Prabhakara
- Bangalore, Karnataka, India


May 14, 2020

A. Hi Richard
Sounds like a good idea but ...
Copper is well known to have anti-bacterial properties but covid 19 is a virus not a bacterium. I have seen no reports that it is susceptible to copper and it is such a recent outbreak that it is unlikely that the research has been done.
I'm afraid that copper paint is unlikely to be effective. The flakes of copper are embedded in and covered by the polymer base of the paint so little metal is exposed on the surface.
Copper would be a poor finish for a door handle as it tarnishes so easily.
The simple answer is to simply fit brass handles. They are always supplied with a clear laquer finish that you would have to remove and you would need a good supply of brass polish to keep them looking acceptable. Bronze is best overall but difficult to find.
But if you balance the overall risk involved in changing the door furniture against simply social distancing and hand washing I doubt you would find it worth the effort.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

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