Copper sulfate is a blend of copper and sulfate, forming an inorganic compound. In its liquid or powdered state, it is often referred to as basic copper sulfate, BSC copper fungicide, CP basic sulfate, or tri-basic copper sulfate. When in its solid, crystalline form (known as a pentahydrate), it is recognized as blue stone or blue vitriol, owing to its blue color. This form is commonly used as a base material for manufacturing various copper salts.

Copper sulfate serves to inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria. However, excessive exposure can be toxic to humans.

This article explores the advantages of copper sulfate and the potential side effects associated with its exposure. It also provides guidance on selecting a copper sulfate product and safe handling practices.

Benefits of Copper Sulfate

The primary health benefit of copper sulfate is its use in controlling the growth of bacteria and fungi on agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables. Registered for pesticide use in the U.S. since 1956, it combats mildew, which can cause leaf spots and spoil plants. Copper sulfate adheres to fungal proteins, destroying the cells and killing the fungus.

In tropical regions, it acts as a molluscicide, protecting plants and crops from pests like snails and slugs.

Copper sulfate also contributes to public health by eliminating algae and bacteria in swimming pools. Additionally, it helps prevent athlete’s foot, a fungal condition that thrives between toes in warm, moist environments like indoor pools. This is achieved by incorporating it into the floors of showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools to inhibit bacterial survival on the surfaces.

How to Use Copper Sulfate

Copper sulfate can be used to line drainage or sewage pipes to stop roots from clogging them. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a copper sulfate limit of 1 ppm in drinking water, which is non-toxic.

For large-scale land or water applications, it is crucial to adhere to the specific guidelines for the type of copper sulfate being used, as liquid and powder forms require different measurements based on the area.

When handling copper sulfate, it is essential to wear boots, gloves, and goggles to reduce the risk of exposure or ingestion.