Copper vessels have been around for thousands of years. In fact, they are one of the earliest types of vessels ever made after clay vessels. Due to the positive antibacterial properties of copper, it is still widely used nowadays in many medical tools, utensils, and water-storing vessels. In this post, we discuss the history of copper vessels, how to use them, their health benefits and much more.
The History of Copper Vessels
Known as the ‘jewelry of the kitchen,’ copper has been used for more than six thousand years as a material for all sorts of tools, vessels, and kitchenware. Its use is owed to the fact that copper is a highly durable metal with low reactivity, and thus more resistant to corrosion.
Its first recorded emergence dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, where people would craft copper tools, weapons, and utensils as an alternative to stones or clay. In the case of copper vessels, the Mesopotamians would create drinking pots, glasses, jugs, trays, plates, pans, and other items from copper.
The ancient Egyptians soon adopted the use of copper as well. They used it for pipelines, tools and instruments, artistry, cookware, and vessels. For the kitchen, they would craft copper cutlery and utensils like plates, pans, trays, and pots.
Simultaneously, the Eastern cultures would also adopt the use of copper for tools and kitchenware. Perhaps the most prominent example of its use can be traced to the Indian subcontinent, where every household would possess all sorts of copper vessels, utensils, cookware, decorations, and constructions.
Here, copper also received a religious connotation, with ceremonies involving copper coins and vessels still occurring today. Aside from its aesthetic features, copper also had religious importance as it was recognized as a metal which could purify water and fight diseases.
Ayurvedic medicine illustrates this importance best, affirming copper's excellent antibacterial and disease-fighting properties through the use of copper pots and containers for storing water. Ayurveda places copper among the most important metals, which can balance all three elements in the body – vata, pitta, and kapha.
What Are Copper Vessels
Copper vessels are containers made of copper used to store liquids such as water. They can come in different shapes and have different purposes. The reason that copper is still used in the crafting of vessels is due to copper’s durability and ability to sterilize whatever it touches by killing bacteria and other pathogens.
Nowadays, copper vessels are mainly used for drinking water, as they can sterilize it, alkalize it, and release beneficial copper ions into it. When used for storing acidic drinks (such as cocktails), these copper vessels can be lined with a non-reactive metal to prevent the formation of toxic copper salts.
The Different Kinds of Copper Vessels
Depending on the purpose, copper vessels can be lined or unlined and can vary in size from cups and glasses to bottles and pitchers. Here, we will look at the different kinds of copper vessels and what they can be used for.
Copper Drinking Glasses/Cups
Copper drinking glasses and cups are used for storing water. They are relatively small and therefore not as effective in the process of creating copper water. This is because the water needs to be stored for 7-8 hours before drinking if you want to achieve the best results.
However, they can still be more effective than non-copper vessels, even if this translates into a minimal release of copper ions. Therefore, this type of copper vessel would mainly serve a decorative purpose and would work well in combination with a copper pitcher.
Copper Mugs for Cocktails
When it comes to cocktails or other acidic drinks (such as lemon water), the copper vessel needs to be lined with a non-reactive metal to prevent the release of toxic copper salts.
These copper vessels are primarily used for decorative purposes, as they boost the visual and aesthetic effect of the cocktails they are used for. A classic example of the ideal copper mug/cocktail combination is the Moscow Mule, which is traditionally served in a lined copper vessel.
Copper Water Bottles
Copper water bottles are excellent if you are constantly on the move. While they do not store as much water as a pitcher can, they are ideal if you want to switch completely to using a copper vessel for storing drinking water.
Because you would usually drink more often from a copper bottle and refill when it empties, it means that the copper ion count would not be as high as that in a container which has sat with water for more than 7 hours.
Copper Water Pitchers
The copper water pitcher (or copper jug) is the most effective type of copper vessel for storing water. This is because it can store the highest amount of water, and generally enough to serve your drinking needs for a whole day.
Copper water pitchers usually come in different volume sizes and are meant for storing water overnight. They are also the easiest to clean and maintain.
What Can Be Stored in Copper Vessels
As you have read so far, copper vessels are primarily used for storing water and creating copper water. This is because although copper is not as reactive as some other metals, it still reacts with the environment and corrodes over time.
This corrosion can only be enhanced under the influence of heat, chemicals, and acidic substances, and the reaction can lead to the creation of toxic copper salts. This also goes for dairy products and honey.
Why to Avoid Storing Acidic Substances in Copper Vessels
When in contact with copper, acidic substances catalyze corrosion and play a part in the creation of copper salts such as blue vitriol (bluestone), copper sulphate, and verdigris, which can lead to copper toxicity.
In cases where acidic substances have been stored in copper vessels, some people report an acidic or metallic taste, which is a clear sign of a presence of copper salts. When ingesting these toxic substances, one may experience gastrointestinal problems, stomachache, nausea, dizziness, frequent thirst, and other short-term and long-term health issues.
The main issue with having too much copper in your body (which can happen because of copper reacting with acidic substances) is that the body finds it hard to eliminate the excess, potentially leading to copper toxicity.
Why Drink Water from a Copper Vessel
Storing water in a copper vessel is not only safe but also beneficial for the health. As we already mentioned, copper has excellent antibacterial properties, which translates into safer drinking water. However, this is only where the benefits of drinking out of copper start.
When in contact with water, copper releases a safe amount of copper ions which alkalize the water and provide a range of health benefits when ingested.
The Health Benefits of Drinking Water from a Copper Vessel
Aside from the antibacterial and alkalizing effects of copper on water, the copper ions present in it serve a special role in the healthy functioning of the body. Our bodies need copper as one of the crucial trace minerals, playing an important role in a number of functions, which include:
- Production of red blood cells;
- Absorption of iron;
- Regulation of heart rate and blood pressure;
- Activation of the immune system;
- Prevention of prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate; and
- Development and maintenance of bone, connective tissue, and organs such as the brain and heart.
Drinking copper water can help in the following cases:
1. Harmful Bacteria
Copper is an oligodynamic metal, able to destroy as many as 1 million bacteria per milliliter. It has been shown to be extremely effective against bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, E. Coli, Vibrio Cholerae, S. Aureus, and Klebsiella, which are known to cause serious health issues.
This effectiveness is useful when travelling abroad, especially in developing countries, as traveller’s diarrhea and similar health issues are most commonly caused by pathogens in the drinking water.
2. Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland needs copper to function properly. Therefore, copper has direct benefits when it comes to the thyroid by balancing the gland’s inconsistencies. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have been linked with copper deficiency, which can be combated by drinking copper water regularly.
3. Brain Function
The brain works by transmitting impulses from one neuron to another through synapses. These neurons are covered by a sheath called the myelin sheath, which functions as a conductive agent. Copper is one of the main minerals involved in the creation of the myelin basic protein (MBP), directly affecting the formation and stabilization of the myelin sheath.
4. Arthritis and Inflamed Joints
Copper has very potent anti-inflammatory properties, helping to relieve aches and pains caused due to inflamed joints - such as in the case of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to this, copper helps to boost the immune system and strengthen bone tissue, making it the perfect mineral in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis.
5. Collagen and Melanin Production
Copper plays an important part in the creation of collagen and elastin - two major structural components of our bodies responsible for the scaffolding of the bones, the skin, muscles, and other vital biological structures.
Its antioxidative properties can also prevent skin aging, and its effect on melanin production can aid directly in wound healing, cell production, and protection from UV radiation.
6. Digestive Function
Copper can improve the work of the digestive system in three crucial ways. It kills pathogens which can cause gastro-intestinal issues; it reduces inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties; and it stimulates peristalsis (the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the stomach which helps food to get digested and move along the digestive tract).
7. Cardiovascular System
The muscle and connective tissue in the heart contain elastin and collagen, which, as we saw, are created with the help of copper. It has been found that copper deficiency can, in fact, lead to heart failure, as copper is needed for healthy muscle tone and function.
Additionally, copper helps in sustaining the elasticity of blood vessels, particularly the aorta and smaller arteries, allowing maintenance of proper blood pressure. It also serves as a cofactor for an enzyme involved in the coagulation of blood.
8. Immune System
Copper is necessary for the creation and maintenance of many of the cells and antibodies which play a crucial role in the immune system. These include the white blood cells (which engulf foreign material), antibodies, cytokines, B lymphocytes, and T lymphocytes.
9. Generation and Storage of Energy in the Cells
Present in a copper-containing enzyme, copper affects the release of cellular energy (ATP) inside the mitochondria, which are the power plants of our cells.
Which Copper Vessel Is Most Effective for Water?
While any copper vessel is better than no copper vessel for storing water, copper bottles and pitchers are the most effective types of vessels if you want to reap the full benefits of copper water.
This is simply because these vessels can store larger quantities of water at a time, allowing more water to stay in contact with the copper surface for a longer period of time and to become infused with the beneficial copper ions.
Another consideration when choosing a copper vessel is choosing one which has been hammered. This provides greater surface exposure and, thus, more interaction between the copper and the water.
The Importance of Buying Copper Water Vessel from a Reputable Seller
When buying a copper vessel, you need to ensure that it is 100% pure copper if you want to reap the full benefits and avoid exposure to chemicals and other harmful substances.
Not all copper vessels are created equally. There are many sellers who claim to sell pure copper vessels but which are, in fact, plain metal bottles plated with copper. This can result in the copper plating wearing off after several months of use and exposure to a metallic surface which may be even dangerous for the health.
Additionally, some sellers coat their copper vessels with a toxic lacquer which can release chemicals into the water.
Another thing to consider is whether the copper vessels have been crafted correctly. The handles of pitchers and mugs should not be screwed or glued onto the vessel, as this may lead to exposure to other substances which can affect the quality of the water. Furthermore, poor craftsmanship can result in copper shards peeling off the surface of the vessels and ending up in the water.
You will know that the vessel is made of pure copper if it does not have a lot of intricate details. This is because copper is a soft metal, making it hard to manipulate. If you see such intricate details, you may be looking at a copper alloy such as brass or bronze. These alloys may also be different in color - both lacking the classic orange luster of copper.
How to Be Sure that You Are Buying a Good Copper Vessel
Generally, you would want to check for these three things:
1. Ensure a Reputable Seller
The safest thing to do when buying a copper vessel is to buy it from a reputable and market-leading seller. In the case of online purchases, you can check their credibility by going through their reviews. If you are in the market for a copper bottle, make sure you consider Copper H2O, which is the original maker and seller of the highest quality copper water bottles. If you are in the market for a copper water pitcher, make sure you consider Shantiva.
2. Confirm 100% Copper
Ensure that you confirm with the seller that the copper vessel is 100% pure copper. Obtaining this guarantee ensures that your copper vessel is up to standards and is a testament to the quality of the copper used for making the vessel.
3. The Price
When buying a copper vessel, you should not hesitate to spend more, as low priced items generally indicate something flimsy, fake or poorly manufactured. However, this does not mean that the price should be unreasonable. In general, an authentic and well-made copper water bottle should cost between $35 and $45 USD and an authentic copper pitcher should cost between $40 and $60 USD. However, as prices differ from seller to seller, the reputation and quality assertion may be the best indicators.
How Is Copper Sourced for Copper Vessels?
Copper is a naturally occurring element, present in the Earth’s crust and mined all around the world. It sometimes occurs in pure, native form and it is common in many minerals, such as chalcopyrite, chalcocite and other minerals.
The largest sources of copper are from Chile, the USA, Canada, Russia, Zambia, Poland, Peru, followed by a number of other countries.
Alternatively, copper can come from recycled sources. Europe is the current leader in copper recycling with about 41% of the EU’s annual copper use coming from recycling.
Does the Source of Copper Matter?
As long as the copper used in the vessel is pure, the source has little influence. Copper is a natural element which is equally good regardless of the source. The important thing is for it to be 100% pure copper.
The Bottom Line
Copper vessels have been around for centuries for a good reason. They are durable and provide a safe and beneficial way to store water. Drinking water from a copper vessel can benefit you in many ways, and it plays an important part in eliminating plastic waste from the environment.
However, you should be careful where you get your copper vessel from, as some sellers may try to disguise other metals under copper plating or coat the vessels with toxic lacquer. Always ensure that you are dealing with a reputable seller of high-quality copper water vessels.
About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.