Bright Copper Plating Without Electricity

Previously I published a "copper plate brass key/coin" without electricity using an acidic copper sulfate plating chemestry, the copper plating is very strong but dull and needs to be polished at the end to give a nice look, now I will show you how to make a different copper plating chemestry(it can be use to copper plate with a rectefier too) that can be use the same way(in contact with iron/steel) but this time to give a bright adherent and strong copper plating on previously polished or bright items.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Chemicals and Materials


Copper Sulfate(25 grams per litter)

Oxalic Acid(30 grams per litter, mine is lab grade but you can get it quite easy, bee keepers keep this safe acid to help bees fight off parasites)

Trisodium phosphate(10 grams per litter, food aditive, monosodium and bisodium phosphate will work too)

Ammonium Sulfate(4 grams per litter, its a food additive, flame retardant and fertilizer).

Mix in on litter of Di watter the Oxalic Acid first, then Trisodium Phosphate and then Ammonium Sulfate, then Copper Sulfate at the end.


Safety gear(gloves,glasses)

Iron/Steel container (powdered iron/steel will work too)

Previously polished, mirror like surface on metals, in this case I used two chrome plated pieces(removed chrome layer first by using dilute muriatic acid) but any other metal will work(Brass, Copper, Silver, Stainless Steel, Lead).

Step 2: Prep and Copper Plating

The iron/steel container must be washed and degreased, the pieces to be copper plated must be washed and degreased too, I use basic dish soap.

Place the items to be copper plated in contact with the iron/steel container, pour the plating chemical into the container that has the items to be copper plated, make sure all of the surface has been copper plated if not just put the unplated part in contact with the iron/steel surface, wash the pieces, you can allow the pieces to get a nice patina or you can seal the pices for a nice bright copper mirror look.

Attached a Video of the copper plating taking place.



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge

    5 Discussions


    Question 9 months ago on Introduction

    What type of deionized water do you recommend?
    Is distilled water a suitable replacement for Di water?


    3 years ago

    please check your spelling. Iim not native english speaker and im having problems with understanding what is Di-Watter (Deuterium water - aka heavy water) and what is wasing.

    also - why the container must be iron/steel - why not glass ? Is the iron needed as a catalyst ?

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    I am very sorry about that, I meant to type "washed", Di water stands for Deionized water and the container must be made out of iron/steel because contacting the metals to be plated(Brass, Copper, Nickel, Silver, Gold) with iron I to make those metals inherit(while in contact) iron's standard electrode potential/half cell potential, in the case of iron it has a -0.44 volt potential and copper having a potential of +0.34 will plate directly to the metals in contact with the iron/steel container.


    Reply 3 years ago

    oh, that explains a lot :) thank you. Its quite important to use steel/iron container


    Reply 3 years ago

    The same principle can be adapted for "Spray On Copper" into other metallic surfaces to, but using a dual headed spray gun where fine particles of iron will be sprayed from one nozzle and from the other nozzle a aqueous copper complex will be sprayed, both making contact on the surface of said metal and copper plating the metal surface.