ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Extraction of copper from oxides

Aim: To investigate the reduction of copper oxide using carbon

Materials: copper oxide, anhydrous sodium carbonate, charcoal block, blow pipe, burner

The reduction of copper using carbon. Image credit chemistrydemos.co.uk

The reduction of copper using carbon.


  1. Mix a little copper oxide with sodium carbonate
  2. Place the mixture in a small hole in a charcoal block
  3. Heat the mixture strongly using a blow pipe and a burner
  4. Continue heating until no further colour changes can be observed
  5. Allow the block to cool and then scrape off the products

Results and Observations

  • The mixture glows during the heating process
  • At the beginning of the experiment the copper oxide was black
  • The copper oxide is reduced during the experiment and it the mixture turns to copper-red/brown
  • The reaction is shown using the equation:
  • \text{copper oxide+carbon}\rightarrow\text{copper+carbon dioxide}


  • Copper oxide can be reduced to copper using carbon

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