Sharon Endebak

Turning Iron into Copper

Science Concept: Iron and copper elements exchange places with each other in a water solution.



Rubber stopper

Blue copper sulfate solution (0.1M)

Black iron filings

10 mL graduated cylinder


1. Measure 10 mL of the blue copper sulfate solution (0.1 M).

2. Measure out about 4.0 grams of black iron filings.

3. Pour the blue copper sulfate solution into the test tube.

4. Add the black iron filings.

5. Put the stopper in the test tube and shake vigorously.


Did you ever think it would be possible to transform a golf club into shiny copper pennies? Well, lets give this demonstration a shot.


The iron atoms are initially present in the element form. The copper sulfate is the blue solution containing copper ions and sulfate ions, the copper ions gives the solution the blue color. The iron atoms give electrons to make the copper (+2) ions. The iron atoms have now changed into iron (+3) ions. This then produces a solution of iron sulfate, which is the green solution. The copper metal is now in the element form, the reddish-brown copper element in the test tube, is forced out of the solution and coats the iron filings. This is an exothermic reaction which gives off heat.

Fe metal + Cu+2 ions --> Cu metal + Fe+2 ions (Cu is the red copper metal after the reaction)


This is not a harmful reaction, but take the usual precautions.


First carefully pour of the solution into the sink, keeping the solids in the test tube. The solids of copper metal and iron filings must be disposed of in the garbage, not down the sink.

Reference: Unknown