Copper water vessels are beautiful, but are they safe and healthy? In this article, we will look at the potential benefits and risks of drinking water from copper vessels, and what you can do to ensure that you are receiving the best of what copper has to offer. Let's dive in!
People have been drinking water stored in copper vessels for millennia. In fact, copper can easily be put among the most important metals ever utilized by humankind. When in touch with water, copper leaches safe amounts of copper ions which, besides their strong antibacterial and alkalizing properties, contribute to many important processes in the body.
However, as with everything, badly manufactured copper vessels and improper use can cause more harm than good. So, is it safe to drink water out of copper vessels? The answer depends on different factors, and it comes down to the quality of the vessel, what you store in it, how you use it, and how often you clean it.
In this article, we will look at the potential benefits and risks of drinking water from copper vessels, and what you can do to ensure that you are receiving the best of what copper has to offer.
Copper has been utilized for more than nine millennia. Ancient cultures held high regard for this metal for its antibacterial properties. In fact, the ancient Egyptians associated copper with the symbol for eternal life, the ankh, which was later also adopted, albeit slightly modified, as a symbol for copper by the ancient Greeks.
The Health Benefits of Drinking Out of Copper
As you are already aware, copper has excellent antibacterial properties. Studies have shown that storing water in copper vessels ensures the elimination of harmful bacteria such as E. Coli, Salmonella, and Vibrio Cholerae. This helps translates into safe drinking water, and copper vessels can be especially useful when traveling to developing countries with questionable water quality.
Copper has been found to support the production of red blood cells, the absorption of iron, the regulation of the heart rate and blood pressure, the immune system, connective tissue and bones, the brain and the heart, while also preventing inflammation and prostatitis.
Exposure to Heat
When heated, copper becomes more reactive and, thus, bound to release a much larger number of copper ions when in contact with another substance. This is how it also tarnishes more easily, and it is one of the reasons not to put copper vessels into the dishwasher.
When it comes to how this process affects the liquids you are storing in the vessels, it is important to note that you should not use the vessel to heat water or put hot water in it. If you prefer to store water that you have previously boiled, make sure you let the water cool off to room temperature before you pour it into the copper vessel.
Copper pans and pots are lined for this reason. Here, the copper is used to distribute heat more evenly, and because copper pots and pans look beautiful. However, if the lining is damaged, do not use the cookware under any circumstance. Have it repaired or throw it away.
Improper or Irregular Cleaning
Copper tarnishes over time. While tarnish itself is not dangerous and may even reduce the reactivity of copper when in touch with water, it can become dangerous when the copper surface has started to rust and create a green patina. Regular cleaning is recommended not only for achieving the full effects of storing water in copper, but also as a precautionary measure.
Also, when it comes to cleaning, you should be careful about what kind of cleaning products you are using to clean your copper vessels. Avoid using hard chemicals or placing your copper vessels in the dishwasher.
Beware of Bad Manufacturers and Sellers
Unfortunately, there are a number of low-quality manufacturers and sellers of copper vessels that sell adulterated copper or apply chemicals to the surface of the copper which contaminates the water stored within.
The risks related to purchasing low-quality copper vessels can include:
Impure copper. To cut down on manufacturing costs, some sellers may choose to use lower-grade copper that contains impurities that may negatively affect the quality of the water you are storing.
Varnished copper vessels. Some sellers choose to varnish their copper vessels to prevent tarnishing. However, this means that you will be storing your water in an environment that is bound to absorb dangerous chemicals.
Copper-plated vessels. In some cases, a low price tag may point to a lack of copper or, in other words, a plain metal vessel that has been only plated with copper. The copper plating will start to rub off after only a few months of use, resulting in exposure to a metal that can be dangerous to drink water from.
The Risks of Improper Usage of Copper Vessels
Aside from the risks related to using low-quality copper vessels, improper usage of copper vessels, such as in the case of storing acidic substances, can lead to serious health issues.
This is because when used improperly the copper can react with the environment and release excessive amounts of copper salts. A metallic taste can be an indicator of an excessive amount of copper in the water.
Ingesting these salts can cause copper toxicity. Copper toxicity is characterized by different symptoms that can range from mild to severe, and these include:
Blood in vomit;
Yellowing of eyes and skin (jaundice);
Brown ring-shaped markings in the eyes (Kayser-Fleischer rings); and
Additionally, copper poisoning can include the following mental and behavioral symptoms:
Anxiety and irritability;
Trouble paying attention;
Over-excitement and feeling overwhelmed;
Unusual sadness or depression; and
Sudden mood changes.
Long-term copper toxicity can be fatal and can lead to kidney conditions, liver damage or failure, heart failure, and brain damage.
If you have been experiencing symptoms like those mentioned above, it is highly advisable to consult a health professional.
While properly stored copper water cannot cause copper toxicity, it still contributes to an increase in the copper levels in your body. Therefore, it is best to stop drinking copper-infused water until you understand the cause of the symptoms.