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Creating copper nano particles Answered

Be it conductive ink, decorations or just a special pigment for your paint project, Copper is nice.
Only problem is grinding this soft metal fine enough to be of any good use.

A not so well documented feature of food additives is that they often have "unwanted" side effects.
In our case E300, Ascorbic Acid or just Vitamin C.
So how to make copper nano particles with it you might wonder?

Prepare a well saturated solution of Copper Sulphate, you find the blue crystals in the gardening section together with fertilisers.
It is best to use destilled water and not plain tap water, if in doubt go at least with the demineralised stuff for batteries.
Adding E300 either dissolved in water or directly as crystals will start a nice reaction.
The copper solphate is reduced back to metallic copper.

There are a few problems though...
For best results you need a saturation copper sulphate solution, low temperatures and a magnetic stirrer.
This produced the finest particles for me at around 5°C.
But even warm or at room temp the constant sirring is beneficial for even particle sizes.
The ascorbic acid is used up in the process as well.
You can start with a little and see how much you end up with in terms of a layer of copper particles at the bottom.
Adding more E300 will cause a "rain" of fine copper particles - once this no longer happens you know the copper sulphate is used up as well.
A dark greenish color of the solution will indicate this as well.

Getting the copper out of the glass...
Keep in mind the copper is extreme fine!
As long as it stays in the solution it won't oxidize or otherwise react.
Once out and in contact with just water and air oxidation happens quickly, after all it is pure copper...
I found removing the watery solution and then adding destilled water to repeat the process is a good start.
The waste from the first round can still be usefull though...
In the final round I try to remove as much water as I can and then add methyled spirit to prevent the reactions.
You can use oil as well or do a quick vacuum drying and store it in a sealed and oxygen free container.

What to do with it?
As a condictive paint with the right binder it only needs some rubbing with a smooth tool to create a conductive cover with a low resistance.
In a clear paint or resin it provides some stunning color effects.
You can even dust the dry powder onto a freshly painted surface to get a copper look.
Leave without a top coat and you quickly get an old copper or even green look.
If you ever wanted extreme fine metal particles you will come up with more ideas...
Like shielding or sintering....


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11 months ago

I am wondering how to make a pain out of copper sulfate to coat a breathing mask to protect against COVID-19 now that the proof is out there about the amazing abilities of Copper against the pathogen. Can anyone kindly instruct me?


Reply 10 months ago

You need to paint the mask with conductive pait and then electroplate the copper onto it.

There is copper filled pla available from some suppliers that actually uses real copper.
Not sure about the actual contents but the dispersion factor might be still enough to be effective.

You biggest problem with anything but galvanising is that you won't be able to prevent oxidisation.
On a solid copper surface this is easy to clean, not so much if you deal with particles.
Quite a lot of the common sanitizing agents contain chlorides - which are not really good for copper, so only alcohol can be used to clean it safely.

If conductive paint is a no go or too expenive copper tape might be an alternative.
Not too expensive if you buy a wide a roll and work out how to cut it so it makes a proper fit n the mask.


1 year ago

Can this be used to electroless plate copper onto plastic?
I would guess that the plastic would need to be sensitized...but no clue how.
thanks for the instructable!


Reply 1 year ago

Plastic isn't as hard as you might think.
Tape a mask over the free areas then sand the rest finefly.
The copper particles will still stil to the unsanded plastic when you apply pressure but it peels off easy.
On the sanded areas it sticks really good and won't come off easy at all.


1 year ago

Hello, I really love your work and the way you explain things. Just amazing. I just wanted to know if this ink will print on plastic surface. TIA


Reply 1 year ago

To make it stick you would either need to give the surface a fine sanding or include some suitable solvent in the ink.
Acetone should work for most plastics here.

Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

1 year ago

Hey, I was just wondering: Have you seen some of the Robert Murray Smith's Youtube videos? The guy seems to be an absolute genius at making conductive inks, and other things, with kitchen scale equipment.

I recall watching a video of him making copper particles, by reducing copper sulfate with ascorbic acid. I was trying to search, to find it again, and it turns out there were several. So I am just going to link to the search results for, "robert murray smith copper from ascorbic acid" Here:


He has made a lot of videos on kitchen synthesized graphene too. In fact, graphene recipes might be what he is more well known for.



Reply 1 year ago

I have seen his work and he does it the right way.
Showing what is possible without giving enough clues how to repeat it.
Sadly the only way these days to keep new inventions alive for the inventor.
Still struggling to create the coppering solution he uses on stainless steel.
Would come handy sometimes...