Copper sulfate, or copper sulfate pentahydrate (CuSO45H2O), is a versatile inorganic compound. Copper and sulfur are used to mix copper sulfate. It’s also known as bluestone and blue vitriol due to its bright blue colour.
There are many benefits of copper. It has multiple uses in agriculture, industry, mining, printing, producing paint, public health and medicine, to name a few. It’s even used in hair dye!
In agriculture, large amounts of copper sulfate are used mainly as a fungicide. It also:
- Kills bacteria in sheep dips and prevents footrot in sheep and cattle.
- Controls scum in farm ponds.
- Corrects copper deficiency in soil and animals.
- Can be used as a molluscicide, as it kills slugs and snails.
- Is used as a seed dressing and soil steriliser.
- Acts as a growth stimulant, to fatten pigs and broiler chickens.
Almost every industry uses copper sulfate extensively. Here are just a few examples.
- In printing, it’s an etching agent for process engraving and an ingredient in inks.
- It’s used in anti-fouling paints and for varnish or paint dryers.
- It’s an insecticide for book-binding glues, and makes animal glue water-resistant.
- In building, it’s used to preserve timber, deter woodworm and wood rot.
- A solution of copper sulfate is used in tanning and dyeing leather.
- In textiles, it’s used to rot-proof canvas and other fabrics and produce rayon and dyes.
Medicine and Public Health
Copper sulfate has many uses in public health, medicine and pharmaceutical products.
- Added to concrete used on the bottom of swimming pools, it prevents the athlete's foot.
- As a molluscicide, it controls bilharzia in tropical countries by killing the carrier.
- It helps prevent malaria as it’s used to prepare compounds that kill mosquito larvae.
- It’s used in antiseptics and germicides that prevent fungus infections.
- It’s a raw material to prepare copper catalysts to make pharmaceutical products.
Is copper sulfate toxic?
High levels of copper can be toxic. Exposures to copper sulfate can kill fish and trees and are also moderately toxic to birds. It’s not harmful to bees.
In humans, copper sulfate can cause severe eye irritation. Eating large amounts of food with high copper content can lead to nausea, vomiting, and damage body tissues, blood cells, the liver, and kidneys. With extreme exposures to concentrations of copper, shock and death can occur.
Copper is an essential mineral that is present in nature, water, and food. Derived from copper ions, copper sulfate has an astounding variety of uses. It can be toxic, but if it’s used correctly, you can avoid any adverse effects. Always follow the instructions on labels and get expert advice before using it.
Bisley is a leading provider of industrial materials and supplies, including copper sulfate. Get in touch with us online or call our office at +61 2 8905 4200 now.