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Copper oxide is a black, insoluble copper source. It is found in nature as the mineral tenorite, and is produced on a large scale as one of the steps of extraction of copper from its ores during pyrometallurgy. In the form of copper(II) ammine complexes, it is used in paints and ceramics to produce blue, red and green pigments. It is also an ingredient in many types of fireworks and pyrotechnic compositions. It can be used to produce crackling stars effects, and as an oxidizer for metal fuels such as magnesium, aluminium or magnalium powder. It can also be used as a moderate blue coloring agent in blue flame compositions. It is also used in strobe and thermite effects. It is incompatible with reducing agents, hydrogen perchlorate, alkali metals and finely powdered metals.
Copper poisoning is usually due to ingestion of the more soluble salts (copper(II) sulfate, copper(II) chloride) and may result in methemoglobinemia, coagulopathy, liver damage and renal failure. Acute exposure of copper oxide can cause irritation to the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. It is absorbed through the respiratory tract and excreted through the urinary system.
Cuprous oxide, CAS no 1317-39-1, is an insoluble copper powder that can be obtained from natural sources as the mineral cuprite or produced by electrolysis of copper(I) chloride solutions using zinc sulfate solution or nitric acid. It is used in manufacturing various paints, glass and fertilizers. It is also used in fireworks and pyrotechnics as an oxidizer, as an additive to improve the firing properties of nitrocellulose and as a blue colorant for flame effects.