Copper (II) Sulfate Pentahydrate (CuSO4.5H2O), which is known as cupric sulphate or blue vitriol, is derived from reacting copper with sulphuric acid. When It is found occurring naturally, it is called chalcanthite. Copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate is used for high school chemistry experiments and as an agricultural, industrial and pharmaceutical chemical. This bright blue, crystalline powder can act as a germicide and fungicide for agricultural and medical use, and it is an component of dyes and batteries.
Educational Uses in Chemistry Labs
Elementary school age children often observe the formation of copper sulphate crystals from copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate solutions as part of their science education curriculum. Other home and school chemistry experiments, which rely on this mineral salt, include copper electroplating experiments. In such efforts, students plate base metal with copper by placing it a solution of this chemical and introducing an electrical current. Older students perform experiments in which they determine the amount of water in copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate to demonstrate conservation of matter and energy.
Copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate can be used as an additive for livestock feed as well as for pesticidal and germicidal purposes. Its most notable use is as one of the main components in a Bordeaux mixture, an agricultural and horticultural fungicide that has been in use for over one hundred years. It is used to prevent fungal outbreaks that damage orchids as well as melon crops. This copper salt is also used to manufacture Cheshunt compound, in which it is combined with ammonium carbonate to stop a fungal disease that affects seedlings.
Just as students use copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate to perform electroplating experiments, so, too, is this salt used for actual industrial copper plating of metals. It is used as a battery electrolyte and as a component of textile dyes. Copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate also serves as a mordant for textile dyeing; a mordant is a substance that is used to make sure dyes properly colour fabric.
Copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate is an antiseptic and fungicide that can be used for skin disinfection, but it is rarely used for this purpose at present. It is used as a solution to test blood for anaemia. When combined with other metallic salts to form Fehling's solution and Benedict's solution, it can be used to test for diabetes. With the adoption of electronic testing meters, copper salt solutions are being phased out for medical testing.
Copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate is an aquatic herbicide that wipes out algae and unwanted plants in pools and ponds. However, it has been replaced by less toxic chemicals for this purpose. This copper salt is still used by home aquarium enthusiasts as an algicide and to control parasitic infections in fish. It also rids aquariums of unwanted snails. Finally, copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate is used as a root killer to kill remaining tree roots and prepare them for removal after a tree has been cut down.