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Copper is one stubborn metal that has a high melting point reaching up to 1,085°C.
The conventional way of melting copper is through the use of large-scale equipment for mass producing great quantities of copper, such as induction furnaces and foundries.
However, with the widespread availability and practicality of copper a new, smaller-scale technique in melting copper has emerged. We no longer have to invest in expensive equipment that are only to be handled by trained metalworkers.
Instead, we are going to take a look at an easier method which anyone can use.
There are various ways to melt copper, and each method uses a particular type of container and heating element that may be different from other methods. We are going to tackle the simplest, most efficient way on how to melt copper in an ordinary house setting, which is through the use of an oxyacetylene torch and a stovetop.
How to Melt Copper with an Oxyacetylene Torch
Here are the steps:
1. Prepare the materials needed
- Copper - metal to be melted
- Oxyacetylene torch – an industrial grade blowtorch that uses a mixture of acetylene and oxygen in order to produce an intense flame that is hot enough to cut, forge, and/or shape metal
- Tongs - used to hold and pick up objects that are too hot to handle
- Crucible – a metal or ceramic container that can withstand very high temperatures, and is often used as a melting pot for other metals
- Bar molds – a container where the newly melted liquid will be poured
- Borax and other metal cleaning agents
2. Wear proper protective wear
To ensure maximum safety, wear gloves, face masks, and goggles. Moreover, make sure to melt copper in a well-ventilated area that is far away from combustible materials.
3. Cut the copper into small pieces
If the copper happens to be in the form of copper coins, then there is no need to undergo this step because coins can easily fit into the crucible. However, if the copper is in the form of copper wires, then you first have to take off the outer insulation coating using wire cutters because these are toxic when burned. Afterwards, twist the copper wires into smaller curls, then place them into the crucible.
Warning: It is not advisable to melt pennies, because in many countries it is not allowed.
4. Turn on the oxyacetylene torch
Turn on the torch and adjust the oxygen valves so as to increase the flame temperature as necessary. Point the torch at the copper inside the crucible and move it back and forth to make sure that the heat is evenly distributed.
5. Pour Borax
To stop oxidation, pour at least a teaspoon of borax into the newly melted copper liquid.
6. Pour metal into the bar molds
Pour the copper liquid uniformly into the bar molds.
7. Make it shine
Let the liquid cool until it solidifies into hard, copper bars. At this point, you may want to improve the shine of the copper by scrubbing it with your preferred cleaning agents. You can make use of hydrochloric acid, acetone, citric acid, ammonium detergent, and etc.
How to Melt Copper on a Stovetop
1. Prepare the stovetop
The stovetop method uses an iron pan as container and a stove as the heating element. Remember to use an iron pan, and not any other pan that is made of a metal with a lower boiling point than copper. Otherwise, your pan might melt even before your copper does.
2. Place scraps into pan
Place the copper scraps into the iron pan and cover it with a lid to help keep the temperature.
3. Turn the stove on
Turn the stove on and set the temperature to the highest possible setting available. You will have to check on your progress every now and then to see if the copper is sufficiently melted.
In using this method, remember to reserve the iron pan for the specific purpose of melting copper. For safety measures, store it in an entirely different location from the rest of your pans to make sure it does not get mixed up with those used in cooking.
This method may sound very simple to follow. However, different stovetops have different temperature settings. Therefore, there may be some that are able to reach the high temperature needed to melt copper, while some do not.