Copper sulfate is also called blue vitriol, Roman vitriol, Salzburg vitriol, blue copperas or bluestone, which is an inorganic or chemical compound comprised of Copper, Sulphur and Oxygen whose chemical formula is CuSO4. It is an odorless crystalline substance, electric blue and highly toxic, which is produced in industries by treating the copper metal with hot concentrated sulfuric acid or treating its oxides with dilute sulfuric acid. It can be produced by slowly leaching low-grade copper ore in air and bacteria may be used to hasten the process.
It occurs mainly in two forms that are the anhydrous form, which occurs as a rare mineral known as chalcocyanite and the hydrated copper sulphate, which occurs in nature as chalcanthite (pentahydrate), and two other rare ones: bonattite (trihydrate) and boothite (heptahydrate).
Copper sulphate was used in the past as an emetic that is as an agent that induces vomiting. Today it is considered toxic. In laboratory use, copper sulfate is usually purchased where it is commonly used in students chemistry sets to demonstrate an exothermic reaction, in which steel wool or magnesium ribbon is placed in an aqueous solution of copper sulfate
Due to its varied applications, copper sulfate has a wide range of uses hence becoming a vital part of everyday life. Some of the methods include;
1. Controlling the growth of algae in farm ponds, waterways, water bodies, and reservoirs
It is considered as the best algaecide, so it is generally used to kill the unwanted algae on the roofs and lawns also. It is also used to control molds in pools and ponds.
2. Used as a fungicide and herbicide
Copper sulphate is a fungicide that controls fungal and bacterial diseases of fruit, vegetable, nut and field crops, for example, mildew, leaf spots, blights, and apple scab. It is used combined with lime and water to act as a protective fungicide, referred to as Bordeaux mixture, for leaf application and seed treatment.
Also used as an herbicide in irrigation and municipal water treatment systems to control invasive aquatic plants and the roots of plants situated near water pipes, and as a molluscicide, a material used to repel and kill slugs and snails.
3. Used in school laboratory chemistry sets and science projects
Middle school and high school children use copper sulphate in several chemistry tests and science projects. For example, in Fehling’s solution and Benedict’s solution to test for reducing sugars where the soluble blue copper(II) sulfate is reduced to insoluble red copper(I) oxide. Also used in the Biuret reagent for proteins test.
4. Used to test blood for anemia
Also used to test blood for anemia, here blood is tested by dropping it into a solution of copper sulfate of known specific gravity. The blood which contains sufficient hemoglobin, in this case, sinks rapidly due to its density; on the contrary, the serum, which does not rot or sinks slowly, has an insufficient amount of hemoglobin.
This is traditionally the process of using strong acid to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal, for example, zinc and copper plates. Copper sulfate is therefore used to etch zinc plates for intaglio printmaking and also to etch designs into copper for jewelry.
Copper sulfate can be used as in vegetable dyeing as a mordant and often is used to illuminate the green tints of the specific dyes.
7. Used as Animal Feed Additive
Copper Sulfate is a valuable source of dietary copper. Thus, experts in animal diets recommend the use of the copper compound to balance the dietary copper in mixed feeds for agricultural animals and also for the treatment of copper deficiency.
8. Used as a Footbath for Cattle
Copper sulfate crystals are used today dissolved in water in a foot bath with immersion lasting between 5 and 20 minutes, once or twice daily, for a period as prescribed by your veterinarian for cattle to pass through as prevention and cure for foot rot.
9. Used as a Fertilizer Additive
Copper Sulfate is a valuable copper supplement in mixed fertilizers and soil conditioners, which is used for increasing the amount of copper in the soil.
10. Used in electroplating processes
Copper sulphate solution is used as an electrolyte that conducts electricity from one electrode to the other. Also, an aqueous solution of copper sulfate is often used to resist the passage of electric current in liquid resistors.
11. Curing Proud Flesh on Horses
Proud flesh refers to the unchecked and unproductive growth of granulation tissue, which is usually a component of natural wound healing, which is reddish-pink granular or pebbly flesh that appears within a healing wound. Lime and copper sulphate powders are used on open wounds in horses. They have value in treating injuries with excessive granulation tissue that is proud flesh. They should not be used on fresh and sutured wounds.
12. Used as an Antiseptic agent and a Germicide
In public swimming pools, either by adding copper sulfate to the water or incorporating it into the foundation of the floor, it has been proven to eliminate the spread of athlete’s foot and contagious diseases. Copper sulphate also inhibits bacterial growth in pools.
13. raw material in the manufacture of copper catalysts for pharmaceutical applications.
14. Very diluted copper sulphate is used for the treatment of aquarium fish for parasitic infections, or the aquarium itself to remove snails.
15. Copper sulfate is one of the ingredients of the styptic powder, Kwik Stop, which quickly and effectively controls minor bleeding caused by clipping nails, claws, and wings, docking tails and small superficial cuts and to stop external bleeding in animals.
To make the environment fresh and worth living and alleviate some problems, the use of a chemical is necessary for daily life. Copper sulfate is therefore widely used in agricultural and industrial fields as well as in pharmaceuticals and research due to its interesting and differentiated properties and its wide range of uses and applications. It is, therefore, fundamental to human beings today because they depend a lot on chemicals on their daily life activities.