Copper Sulfate – Physical Properties, Chemical Formula, and Preparation

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Copper sulfate is a chemical compound that contains copper in its +2 oxidation state, along with sulfate ions. It can be found in many different forms, including the blue mineral chalcanthite.

Physical Properties

The most common form of copper sulfate is pentahydrate (CuSO4*5H2O), which is blue and forms triclinic crystals. Other copper sulfates vary in their degree of hydration and may be yellow, green, or white.


Copper sulfate can be colored either anhydrous or hydrated by heating the salt with water or exposing it to air. The anhydrous form is whitish and has five water molecules attached to it, while the hydrated form is bright blue and has a single water molecule surrounding the copper atom.

Molecular Structure

The atoms in copper sulfate are arranged in an octahedral configuration. The metal atom is protected by sulfate, which acts as a ligand. In the hydrated form, water molecules surround copper, and go through d-d transitions that emit blue light. In the anhydrous form, no transitions occur.

Chemical Formula

Copper(II) sulfate is an inorganic salt with the chemical formula CuSO4. The blue salt, also called cupric sulfate, copper sulfite, blue vitriol, or bluestone, has been used throughout history to fight fungi, algae, and bacteria. It is a potent herbicide and fungicide, and is also used to purify copper metal by placing it in a solution with hot sulfuric acid.

Preparation of Copper Sulfate

The most common way to prepare copper sulfate is by heating metallic copper with concentrated sulphuric acid. This gives copper sulfate as a product and also liberates hydrogen gas. Other methods of preparation include reacting oxides of copper with dilute sulphuric acid.