Uses of copper sulfate

Updated July 19, 2017

Copper Sulfate is a multipurpose chemical used as a fungicide for agriculture, an algicide and herbicide for irrigation and water treatment systems, and a molluscicide used to deter or kill snails and slugs, according to Copper sulphate is used by over 100 manufacturers for a range of industrial purposes, but nearly 75 per cent of all production is used for agriculture.


Generally, copper sulphate virgin copper is not used in manufacturing. Manufacturers use various methods to create industrial copper sulphate. One method uses nonferrous scrap that is refined, and the molten metal is placed in to water to produce spherical pieces called shot. The shot is diluted in sulphuric acid in the presence of air to create liquor. The manufacturer uses the cooling process to produce either copper sulphate crystals or granulated snow crystals. The Environmental Protection Agency requires that all end products containing 99 per cent active ingredients of copper sulphate in crystalline form must have the word "Danger" on the label.

Agricultural Uses

Copper sulphate is used to control bacterial and fungal diseases on field crops, fruit trees, nut trees and vegetables, according to Cornell University. Copper sulphate controls mildew, leaf spots, blight and apple scabs. Horticulturists utilise a combination of copper sulphate, lime and water called a Bordeaux mixture for treating leaves and seeds. Copper sulphate is used to correct deficiencies in soil and animals. A mixture of copper sulphate and other materials are used to fatten pigs and chickens, according to

Irrigation and Water Treatment

Copper Sulfate is used as an algicide and an herbicide for irrigation and municipal water treatment systems. According to William Wurst, State of Kentucky Aquaculture Specialist, copper sulphate may be used for spot control of algae, but not for ponds with algae density of more than 30 per cent. Copper sulphate should not be used in fishing ponds stocked with salmon, koi, carp, gold fish, trout and other species noted for a sensitivity to copper.

Controls Pests

Copper sulphate is used as a molluscicide to kill snails and slugs. According to the University of California, Davis website, a Bordeaux mixture can be brushed on tree trunks that will repel snails and slugs.

Industrial Uses

Copper sulphate is used as an additive to adhesives for book binding and an additive to animal and silicate glues to provide water resistance. The building industry use copper sulphate as a prevention for wood rot and woodworms. Copper sulphate is used to control the growth of tree roots near sewers.

Trade Uses

Copper sulphate is used as an electrolyte in copper refining and in the production of copper wiring, aluminium plating and copper powder.

Medical Uses

The medical community use copper sulphate to control and prevent disease such as Bilharzias, malaria and the spread of athlete's foot by incorporating the material into a mixture of other compounds, according to Copper sulphate is used as a germicide and antiseptic

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About the Author

Mary Anne Simpson's research and copy editing career began in 1995. She is a contributing author for PhysOrg and various other websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine and a Juris Doctor from Western State University.