Making Basic Copper Carbonate

Making Basic Copper Carbonate

Basic copper carbonate has a wide variety of uses. It can be used as a precursor to a lot of other copper salts, as a pigment or a dye, or even to control the growth and spread of aquatic weeds. For me though. I am not going to be using it for any of these and I’m actually going to be using it as a catalyst in a chemical reaction. For this preparation we only needed two things: copper sulfate pentahydrate and sodium carbonate. The copper sulfate was purchased online from eBay and the sodium carbonate was made from sodium bicarbonate in a previous video. The procedure for this video was taken directly from a Doug’s Lab video, so if you like this one, you should definitely check out his channel. Lately I’ve been using him as a reference a lot and following his procedures, so I definitely think he deserves some love from you guys. Anyway with that being said, I’ll leave a link to his basic copper carbonate video in the description and we can move on to the chemistry. 256g of copper sulfate pentahydrate was weighed out and added to a flask. On top of the copper sulfate, I then poured in about 700mL of distilled water. I pick up the flask and swirl the contents to try to mix everything up as much as possible, but a lot still remains undissolved. In order to dissolve everything, we’re going to have to heat it up, so I turn on the hot plate and start the magnetic stirring. While this is stirring and heating, I move on to preparing our sodium carbonate solution. In the beaker on the right, I weighed out about 96g of sodium carbonate, and I added about 200mL of distilled water. To the sodium carbonate solution, I also add a stir bar, I turn on the stirring and I crank up the heat. Now we just have to wait for the solutions to heat up and for everything to dissolve. It didn’t take long for the copper sulfate solution to become clear and for everything to dissolve, but it seemed like the sodium carbonate solution was having trouble. Even though the solution was boiling, it was still cloudy and there was clearly some chunks left, so I went ahead and added a bit more water. Shortly after adding the water, the sodium carbonate solution cleared up and now we’re ready to move on to the next step. The next step in this preparation is very simple. All we do is we pour the sodium carbonate solution into the copper sulphate solution. The moment the sodium carbonate solution hits the copper sulphate solution, a precipitate appears. A very nice light blue precipitate floats to the surface and a lot of bubbling occurs. What’s happening here is that copper sulfate, sodium carbonate and water all react together to form our basic copper carbonate, sodium sulfate and CO₂ gas. The basic copper carbonate that we form is insoluble in water and that’s the precipitate that you see, and all of the bubbling is due to the formation of the CO₂. I purposely added the sodium carbonate slowly and in small portions to prevent the reaction from foaming out of the flask. Each time the bubbling seem to be slowing down, I added a little bit more sodium carbonate. After all of the sodium carbonate had been added, I mixed it around and then I let it sit there for a few hours. Very quickly after putting it down on the hot plate, you can see the copper carbonate starting to sink to the bottom. I actually thought it looked kind of cool where copper carbonate was sinking down but CO₂ bubbles were floating up. One thing to point out is if you actually look at the water here, it’s still a little bit blue, which means that there’s some copper sulfate left over. When we come back to the reaction a few hours later, you can see that the water is colorless now, which means that all of the copper sulfate has been used. Now we’re ready to move on and to separate the basic copper carbonate, we carry out a vacuum filtration. This is very easy to do and I simply just add the basic copper carbonate, filter off the water and just keep adding over and over until I filtered everything. After everything’s added to the filter, I washed the flask a few times with a little bit of water. I carry out a few washing steps where I use a metal spatula and mix around the basic copper carbonate to really just try to wash out any copper sulfate or sodium carbonate that might remain. After I wash it a few times, I leave the vacuum on to pull out as much water as possible. After a few minutes, it’s relatively dry and we’re left with a semi-wet paste. I scraped the copper carbonate out of the filter funnel and onto a watch glass. I do my best to remove as much as possible but there’s inevitably going to be a little bit that’s left behind. Once I’ve transferred as much as I can to the watch glass, I use the metal spatula to chop up the big pieces and spread it out. I more or less leave it like this with occasional mixing to let it air dry and get rid of as much water as possible. Just after a few days it was dry enough that I was easily able to powderize it using the back of the spatula, and I was left with a relatively fine powder. The final yield was 120g which is actually a little bit above theoretical, so this means it’s probably still a little bit wet. Just as a side note, the basic copper carbonate is not soluble in water, and we have to clean it with an acid like hydrochloric acid. The acid will react with the basic copper carbonate and convert the copper back into a soluble form. I filled the filter flask with a bunch of concentrated hydrochloric acid, and then I poured in some water on top. I just let it sit like this for a while and let it react with as much of the copper carbonate as possible. As it reacts with the copper carbonate in the filter, it releases CO₂ and these are the bubbles you see floating up. Anyway, that’s all I really have to say about making the basic copper carbonate, and like I said earlier you’re going to see me use it in a future video to make pyridine. I actually haven’t done this yet, but I would like to give a big thanks to all of my Patreon supporters. You guys are extremely important to me and you’re one of the major reasons why my videos are even possible to make. I’ve changed the reward tiers a little bit and I’ve made it so that if you spend five dollars or more, I will include your name as a personal thanks at the end of each video. I’m going to try to read out the names but don’t kill me if I mispronounce any of them. A special thanks goes out to Paul Anderson, LVE, Eric Steinberg, Jan Beck, Victor Gonzalez, John Libal and Kris Palkovich. On top of you guys, I actually have a lot of other $5+ supporters, but I didn’t include them because I’m not sure if they want their name included at the end of the video. I’ve sent a message to each of you on Patreon just asking if you do want your name to appear, because after all you did not opt to be in any of the reward tiers.


  1. Would you consider doing ammonium formate from formic acid and ammonium hydroxide? And maybe de recristallization? 😀

  2. Greetings, Nile. I have a question to ask regarding a different approach to the synthesis of copper carbonate. I recently conducted an electrolysis of a saturated sodium chloride solution with a copper anode. As you might imagine the anode corroded horribly and the solution attained a bluish-greenish color which I assume is due to the formation of cupric chloride. I initially thought of disposing of this solution but your video got me thinking. Can I add sodium carbonate to this waste solution and expect to observe copper carbonate precipitating on the bottom of the container?

  3. Hey I have a question unrelated to the video. I recently bought some IPA and Hydrogen peroxide. After doing some research I found a few websites that said it is possible to make ketones by mixing them, and probably with a catalyst. Could you maybe make a video on how to do this, or just explain to me how? thank you! love the videos keep them up! ill diffidently donate once i get a card!

  4. you want some more of that green devil? come check out the wiring on some trucks in northern Alberta. that green shit has shut down many a six figure operation.

  5. Nile Red, I am sure you have seen the product called Never Wet. I want you to run some experiments with it to see if it has any good use in chemistry. Coat the inside of some beakers and see if it helps with chemicals from sticking to the sides of the beaker. Instead of having to wait for the liquids to finish dripping out of the beaker you can just watch as everything plops out instantly!

  6. How do you determine which solvent to use to clean up since the residue was insoluble in water? Why HCl instead of another acid or alcohol?

  7. How do you calculate the amount carbonate that you will need for a given amount of sulfate? I am wanting to work with magnesium and iron sulfate to precipitate out a carbonate of each.

  8. could you use other copper(II) salts in this procedure? here at home i am making some copper(II)acetate, and i was wondering if it will work just as well.

  9. This is the first chemical experiment I did at home, back when I was about 12 or something… takes me right back to my youth.
    … oh no, I think I did it with CALCIUM carbonate.
    I always wanted to reverse the reaction back to Sulphate… but I've always assumed that it would need Suphuric Acid… and I couldn't get that at that tender age.

  10. i am just wondering, does any copper(II) salt work? i am just wondering, because i have some copper(II) acetate and i would like to make basic copper carbonate

  11. 5:19 it is awsome to see that copper forms a complex when HCl is added (Cucl2) with a green colour. But as soon as water is added, cooper starts to create a complex with water instead which has a light blue colour

  12. can you please make an nickel hydroxide and iron oxide for edison battery? i looked all over youtube and didnt found anyone that explains it and i have never seen it before and im really curious pretty please nile red!

  13. By adding sodium carbonate soulution to CuCl you can neutralise it and that add NaCO3(s) until it percipitates. You will get CuCO3 and NaCl.

  14. I got basic copper carbonate by accident by doing some copper electrolysis in a sodium bicarbonate solution…

  15. Random thought: could you use teflon tools in the chem lab?
    PTFE (teflon) is one of those materials in the lab that almost doesn't react with anything. It's not universal but close enough.
    Also it doesn't scrape glass, and it's available in any shape you want it as kitchen utensils.

  16. When I made mine I used copper chloride and sodium bicarbonate instead and it came out more green and less blue. I assume it doesn't matter and its essentially the same compound bc I can't think of any other compound that could've been formed but I could've used impure copper chloride.

  17. Now this is interesting, because I use baking soda and water to clean sulfated electrical connectors (connected to a lead acid battery of coarse), and that is the exact color of the waste wash.

    Obviously I'm not a chemist, but this will be useful when explaining why i use this technique in the future.

  18. hmm i made this with sulfamic acid hydrogen peroxide and copper, once it stopped reactive i put in sodium bicarb and bam copper carbonate percipitates out

  19. I'm beginning to like this fella. He seems young & maybe a little naive (unaware of some key lab practices), but vids are topical and relevant. Let's all check back on him after 8-10 years of higher education and 5 years of post-grad.

  20. If you made copper carbonate from copper acitate instead of copper sulfate could you then react the copper carbonate with magnesium sulfate to get copper sulfate?

  21. I service swimming pools. Copper Sulphate is a great Algaecide. How can I suspend the Copper Sulphate in the water so that it will not stain the pool plaster. If possible, is there a way to buy the suspending materials in a dry form?

  22. You can use baking soda instead of sodium carbonate. It's cheap, available, and dissolves more easily. You end up with the same products, plus some water which gets filtered off anyway.

  23. I made this basic copper carbonate in the 2 times less smaller scale but the final yield was surprisingly too excellent than I expected. Now I almost have a small tub full of Basic Copper Carbonate.

  24. Hey I know this is kinda old…but….what of the sodium sulfate in the liquid?
    You vacuum filtered it out, and then nothing.

    There are some cool things that could be done with it, not so?

  25. I have found a new way to make this. Very cheaply, very pure, ridiculously high yield. All it needs is an acetone rinse. I don't know if you are still active on YT but i wanted to run the process by you without posting it publicly. I'm hoping to patient the process. Respond if you are still active here and interested in hearing about it.

  26. Hi, You are using 0.906 moles of Na2CO3. Should You also use 0.906 moles = 226 grams of CuSO4-5H2O not 256 grams ? Or have You some kind of safe margin to reaction?

  27. i was procssing copper into copper sulfate using my automated chemical reactor via the; atmospheric oxygen process and after i poured off the solution, the unreacted copper was left for an hour and copper carbonate formation was observed, this method seems significantly more economic and easier to automate.

  28. I just tried to make basic copper carbonate today by adding sodium bicarbonate solution to a solution of copper (II) acetate that I made previously. At first I got what I think was the right compound (instantly saw a chalky blue-green precipitate), but I made the mistake of heating further and it turned black. I'm guessing it converted to CuO.

  29. Why use sodium carbonate instead of sodium bicarbonate? Bicarbonate is much easier to obtain, and produces the same result with just a little more CO2 and H2O, which are easily separated.

  30. Interesting. I run a plant that manufactures around 20 tonne of BCC a day and we do it different to this. However some of the similarities are fascinating as is seeing the reaction

  31. Hey, just a question: I've been attempting to crystallize the Copper sulphate but to no avail. I never got it to dissolve in distilled water but never understood why, could anyone help?

  32. I'm no expert but I think I've made copper carbonate by electrolysis of cooper metal in aqueous sodium bicarbonate at 60 degrees

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