Copper is a shiny, reddish metal that is ductile, malleable, and a good conductor of heat and electricity. This metal also has great anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Copper is durable, however when it oxidizes—which occurs with exposure to the elements—the metal will patina and begin to turn green. An example of this is seen with the Statue of Liberty. The end applications of copper include decorative ceilings tiles, roofing and architectural details, gutters, doors, cladding, kitchen and bath fixtures, woven metal screens, and countertops. Copper is also often used for electronics, cables, and electrical wires.
There are a few ways to obtain copper from its ore, depending on the size and depth. The first method is smelting—heating and then extracting—from the ore. Another method uses water along with foaming and frothing agents to make the copper hydrophobic. This is done by crushing the ore into a fine powder and then soaking it in water until the copper pieces extract from the rest of the ore. Copper is often found in oxide or sulfide ores such as malachite. These ores are mostly found in volcanic, igneous rocks but can also be found in certain sedentary rocks.
Copper is one of the most recycled metals in the world. It is reused without any loss to its quality. Most copper that is used today has had a previous life and was recycled into a new product. Often times, using copper building materials can help a project qualify for LEED points.