Copper is non-ferrous; it is not attracted by a magnet. Copper is reddish but when polished, copper is a bright, orangey metal. It corrodes to a blue-green colour.

Copper is malleable, ductile, and a good conductor of heat and electricity.

Alloy forms include aluminium bronze (in the US, aluminum bronze) and German silver (also called 'nickel silver'). Aluminium bronze (copper 90% and aluminium 10%) is a malleable metal with a golden colour, much used in jewellery working. German silver (copper 50%, zinc 25%, nickel 25%) is used in many of the same roles as proper silver.

Copper can also be enameled, as in some jewellery, to prevent corrosion and giving a smooth, decorative surface.


Copper rarely appears in older houses except in modern wiring and pipe-work. It is sometimes used as a roofing material. However, it is common in an alloy form such as brass or bronze.

Copper is also shaped and coated with tin to make saucepans and other cooking vessels.


Like iron and zinc, copper is effectively not poisonous; the risk is low with activities to maintain a house. Avoid ingesting copper dust from abrasive work.


Painted copper can be stripped with a standard chemical stripper. It can be polished with a metal polish and waxed or lacquered.