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Blacksmithing and Metallurgy Hand-wrought manufacture of metal objects, extracting metals from their ores, or purifying metals and casting useful items from the metals.

Blacksmithing and Metallurgy

Copper forging


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  #1  
Old 10-25-2012, 10:18:01 PM
FarmerJohn FarmerJohn is offline
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Default Copper forging

Hello all!

My neighbor who also has a forge has lately been forging copper. I would like to try it too because he is making some beautiful items. My brother says that he is putting himself at risk for arsenic exposure. I have read that arsenic hazards are greater during smelting copper ore, but read also that all copper metal still contains some level of arsenic impurities. Do we still need need to be concerned about arsenic hazards when forging copper metal?

Thanks in advance for any info,
John
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Old 10-26-2012, 06:32:25 AM
PTSideshow PTSideshow is offline
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Default Re: Copper forging

You would need to be concerned with the heating up and release of arsenic or any heavy metals and other compounds from any forging of metals. The main use of metallic arsenic is for strengthening alloys of copper and especially lead. The toxicity is cumulative. If it scrap copper or unknown alloy that he is using. A concern would be that it contain beryllium.
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Beryllium-containing alloys create an inhalation hazard during manufacturing due to their toxic properties.
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As beryllium compounds are toxic and cumulative poisons, there are some safety concerns with handling its alloys. In solid form and as finished parts, beryllium copper presents no known health hazard.However, breathing its dust or vapors, as formed when machining or welding, will eventually cause serious lung damage.Beryllium compounds are known human carcinogens when inhaled.As a result, beryllium copper is sometimes replaced by safer copper alloys such as Cu-Ni-Sn bronze
The oxidation by heating of the metals provide a quick way in to the body system by inhalation.

Beryllium alloyed copper is used to make non-sparking, non magnetic tools for use in hazardous locations.
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Old 10-27-2012, 09:43:09 AM
FarmerJohn FarmerJohn is offline
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Default Re: Copper forging

Thanks for the information PTSideshow!

I did not know about beryllium alloyed copper. Beryllium atoms are smaller than oxygen so I guess most masks wouldn't even filter it. I wonder if there is a way to tell if you are working with a beryllium alloy or a safer alloy? I think he was using copper left over from plumbing in a new wood burning furnace in his house. I wonder if the copper pipe that we buy now at the hardware supply the safer alloy? I would think plumbers would be exposed to the same beryllium hazards when they are heating and soldering up copper pipe.

Thanks,
John
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Old 10-27-2012, 11:35:04 AM
PTSideshow PTSideshow is offline
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Default Re: Copper forging

Yes it is the safer alloys, the other is way more expensive and generally a slightly off color from the normal piping. Since the make the non-sparking magnetic tools from it, along with certain bearings the scrap brings a premium and isn't generally available to the public at cheap prices.
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Old 10-27-2012, 11:58:03 AM
xplor xplor is offline
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Default Re: Copper forging

Otzi says we have been smelting and forging copper for over 5,300 years. Back in the day we did it outside so the stink was blown away.
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Old 10-28-2012, 10:42:19 AM
FarmerJohn FarmerJohn is offline
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Default Re: Copper forging

OK, thanks for the extra info!

Thanks,
John
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