Clothing companies are exploring the inclusion of copper in fabric production. Also, popular media and websites are now discussing the benefits of copper. All of these have increased the general curiosity of everyone about why copper is being peddled in the form of compression garments. Many inquiring minds are asking, what goes into the process of making copper fabric?

There has been a lot of craze over the use of copper in recent years. While the introduction of copper into popular usage can be said to have peaked around 2015, it is still embraced currently. Copper has been known as an element for quite a very long time. Therefore, it is fascinating as to how this known element has come to become something every blog and website is talking about. Its sudden resurfacing in popular media, while surprising, is not what takes the cake in terms of fascination.

The more fascinating thing about the resurfacing of copper is the fact that it is now introduced into fashion.

In any case, copper and fabric are a combo that is beginning to get established. That is, copper is now being incorporated into clothing and some companies are dedicated to this cause. Therefore, copper fabric is growing in popularity and many people are expressing satisfaction with their use of copper fabric.

You may wonder in what way copper and fabric are similar. You may be confused as to how they can even be merged in the first place to form apparel. This post, amongst other things, will touch on the necessary details regarding how copper fabric is made.

History of Copper

copper coins

The particular history of copper cannot be traced with precision. The issue of tracing the history of copper has to do with what timeline it first appeared in.

However, a generally accepted history traces the use of copper back to ancient Egypt. The use of copper in ancient Egypt was primarily for medical purposes. We learned of this from what is deemed “the oldest known medical document in history.” The document traces mention of copper in ancient Egypt to around 3200 B.C. Some reports put it as between 2600 B.C and 2200 B.C. As in the document it was found, it is said that the use of copper was primarily for medical purposes.

It was particularly used for the treatment of some injuries, like chest pain. It was also used for the sterilization of drinking water. Additionally, more mention of copper for medicinal purposes is seen in the Hippocratic collection. While this collection was not entirely written by Hippocrates, it shows that between 460 B.C. and 380 B.C., there were mentions and uses of copper in relation to medicine and health as well as for the prevention of the infection of fresh wounds.

Beyond ancient Egypt, the Chinese also used copper coins in the treatment of some heart-related diseases. It, therefore, goes without saying that copper played vital roles in the development of medicine, and it still does.

How does that relate to fabric? Well, some studies were conducted as to the medical advantage of copper on the body. Both within and outside the body, it was seen that copper plays important roles in maintaining our health. Our body has some content of copper within it. Additionally, as has been mentioned throughout, copper can serve important benefits when introduced from outside the body. Ensuring the body enjoys the benefits copper has to offer is what prompted its infusion in fashion.

Origins of Copper Fabric

copper fabric

Just like the origins of copper itself, the origins of copper fabric are not particularly known. It is not as though the origins are not traceable to some era, but the precise trace is almost impossible. However, it is believed that the use of copper together with fabrics might have originated in the Middle East. While ancient Egypt and other regions used copper first for medicinal purposes, the evidence doesn’t show that they ventured into copper fabrics.

However, it is the case that copper fabrics became increasingly popular in the twenty-first century. Before this century, there had not been much rage or discussions about copper and fabric. When it came to fabric, the discussion was about wool, cotton, and whatnot.

Hence, while the origins of copper fabric might not be particularly known, we are in the period of its popularity.

It is quite interesting how copper fabrics are made. The process is not that easy, but once the copper is ready, mixing it with fabric isn’t much of an issue.

The Factory Process On How They Make Copper Fabric

copper_fabric_factory

Copper fabric is essentially a mix of copper and fabric. The factory process for creating copper fabric takes an organized route. However, the major part of the factory process is the extraction of copper. Once the copper is extracted and purified, merging it with fabric is not much of an issue.

There is the oxide ore and there is the sulfide ore. In any case, the first thing to do is to get the copper purified. However, the process of purification differs depending on the type of ore. The process for sulfide copper will be discussed here since it is known to be more potent against bacteria and fungi. You can learn more about the relatively short factory process for oxide ore here.

The resulting copper from either ore is not that different, it is just that sulfide ore is richer in copper than oxide ore. However, while sulfide ore is economically better to mine, oxide ore is cheaper to mine and extract.

Copper is a natural element that is found in rocks. A rock that contains enough metal for copper extraction is known as an ore. However, the ore is not just some clean thing you get off the ground, ready for extraction. Typically, it is riddled with dust and things unnecessary for good copper extraction. Necessarily, these things – like dirt and clay – are removed from the ore before processing begins. Ores are known to contain around 1% copper. However, with careful and proper processing, it results in 99% copper.

One method of doing this is the reduction of the ore into a powdered substance. When this is done, liquid is added to the powdered substance to get it mashed up. Following this, the mixture will contain the much-needed copper minerals and some other unnecessary substances such as unwanted rock. The mixture is further mixed by several chemical reagents that essentially coat the copper particles, thereby making them waterproof.

A first separation occurs through a concentrating process which is a part of another process called “flotation.” During this process, the mixture is placed into special tanks which may be referred to as “flotation cells.” The mixture in the tank is exposed to some level of air content during which the chemical reagents react by causing the copper particles to bubble up. The bubbles are collected and allowed to condense, although they are not completely copper particles. They contain some other unnecessary elements. However, these are all processes under the umbrella process of flotation.

After this, the resulting substance from the flotation is made subject to heated air of around 1200°C. This is when “smelting” occurs. This helps the resulting copper-substance (since it is not entirely refined yet) go through a refining process. This results in a molten material. This is also known as a “matte” or “copper matte” and it has roughly 60% copper. Although this is known as entirely copper by now, it still needs to go through more refining.

This results in the matte being subject to another furnace which is known as a “converter”. During this process, the other unwanted and unnecessary elements – like iron – are burned off. The process is aided by the injection of oxygen and the addition of a chemical cleaning agent known as silica flux. The silica flux and the oxygen cause a chemical reaction when in contact with the other unnecessary elements.

These chemical reactions produce both sulfur dioxide and slag which are both handled differently. It helps in making the matte more copper concentrated. In the end, after some other minor processes through smelting, the matte contains 99%.

This is when it gets into the final refining process. At this refining stage, other impurities in the copper are removed – like sulfur and oxygen. Then it is fire refined and sent through a final electrorefining process. After this process, the now-refined copper is cast into any shape and object preferred. This way, proper copper is now made. You can learn more about the factory process here. This process, however, is only for processing sulfide ore.

In any case, now that copper has been made, the most difficult part of the production is pretty much done. Finally, the copper fabric is now created by bonding fabric fibers together with copper ions. Alternatively, the fabric material can be coated with copper.

Benefits of Copper Fabric

copper fabrics

One thing that is continuously said about copper is that it is anti-microbial. Hence, it is said to kill a lot of bacteria, fungi, and viruses upon contact. So, it is said that when copper is fused with fabric, it helps in eliminating bacteria, fungi, or viruses that may linger on the body. This way, the body stays healthier and has fewer problems – in terms of bacteria, fungi, or virus issues.

In addition to that, it is often said to be effective in thermal regulation. Thermal regulation has to do with body temperatures. The regulation comes to play when it is necessary to keep the body’s temperature within healthy limits. Its effectiveness is particularly high when the weather is rather hot. Alternatively, its effectiveness is also at its highest when the body is partaking in activities that generate heat. It is also great during the cold weather, keeping the body warm.

It is also known to be breathable, to some extent, allowing for a good passage of air. This way, when, for instance, a person is involved in an energy-intensive activity, the copper fabric does not contribute to possible discomfort. It allows for more breathability and flow of air.

Furthermore, it is said to be effective against body odors. This still goes back to it being anti-microbial.

There are other benefits, but these are some of the major ones.

Copper Compression and Copper Infused Gloves

Stop the spread copper gloves

Copper compression gloves as well as copper-induced gloves are a variation of copper fabric. They are synonymous to copper socks. Accordingly, copper gloves, generally, as well as copper socks, all play the same roles of copper fabrics. While some of these copper products have additional modifications and functions – like some gloves are insulated – they still perform the general functions of copper fabrics.

In terms of specific functions, it is claimed that copper compression gloves help with arthritis. How does it work? The compression gloves put continuous pressure on the area of pain, helping the circulation of blood flow. While this has been widely claimed, there has not been much scientific support for it.

But in any case, copper compression gloves and copper-induced gloves are also antiviral and have been lab-tested to kill bacteria and germs on contact. They are breathable and help to keep the hands warm and dry when your daily work or exercise session starts to heat up.

Conclusion

There is a lot that goes into making copper fabric. There are also a lot of claims related to copper fabrics, including purported benefits concerning arthritis. However, copper fabrics are still gaining popularity, especially as COVID-19 remains a threat to public safety, and it’s not safe to touch surfaces as often as you normally would. Perhaps, you will enjoy them because they feel sensational after trying a pair on for the first time. 

You will start seeing more copper-infused garments introduced to the market in the near future. The copper fabric embrace continues!

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Carlo is a rising star in the fitness and health industry. He has collaborated with many athleisure / activewear start-up brands and has a passion for trending fitness-related technology.