ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Experiment: Separating copper from its oxides

Aim: To separate copper from its oxide ores

Materials: copper oxide, iron nail, dilute sulphuric acid, filter funnel, 2 beakers, stirring rod, filter paper, burner

Extracting copper from copper oxide

Extracting copper from copper oxide


  1. Place a small amount of copper oxide in a beaker
  2. Add about 20cm3 of dilute sulphuric acid
  3. Warm the mixture over a burner, stirring until no more oxide will dissolve
  4. Filter the mixture an collect the filtrate in a clean beaker
  5. Stand an iron nail the solution for a few minutes

Results and Observations

  • Copper oxide is black in colour
  • The copper oxide dissolves into the sulphuric acid to form copper sulphate
  • This can be demonstrated using the equation:
  • \text{copper oxide+sulphuric acid}\rightarrow\text{copper sulphate+water}
  • The copper sulphate solution is blue in colour
  • The undissolved copper oxide is filtered off
  • The iron nail displaces copper from the solution
  • Copper particles are visible in the solution


  • Copper oxide can be extracted from its ore by dissolving it in sulphuric acid
  • And displacing it using copper or the electrolytic method

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page.