Thinking About Melting Copper?
The idea of melting copper, especially if you have access to the metal, seems attractive, as there is always a demand for it. In fact, copper wiring and fixtures are usually stripped from buildings for recycling due to the value of the metal. Copper wiring is often stripped or stolen by criminals for the same purpose, though in this case the "scrap" material is often shipped overseas for melting and processing.
A Blowtorch Doesn't Hack It - If you have been thinking about melting copper, for whatever reason, there are several things to bear in mind. If you are looking at melting large amounts, a commercial furnace will be needed, one that is able to handle several hundred pounds of the material at once. If the plan is to melt copper in your garage with a blowtorch, melting several hundred pounds of it would be a long, long process, and probably not a very safe one. Furthermore, the fuel required when using a blowtorch may cost as much as the melted copper is worth.
Don't Melt Those Pennies - Another thing to bear in mind is that melting copper, or copper alloys, can in some instances be illegal. We occasionally read where the copper used in a penny, which is not pure copper but an alloy, is worth more than the penny itself, so a good way to make a profit would be by melting pennies. Technical issues aside, melting pennies is illegal, as pennies are legal tender, and it is against the law to destroy or convert legal tender. You probably wouldn't spend 5 years in prison for melting a penny in your garage, but if you sold a hoard of pennies to someone to be melted down, both you and the buyer could face a fine and/or prison time.
Why Melting Copper Is So Difficult - The third thing to consider is that copper doesn't melt easily, which is one reason why copper pots placed on a heating element don't turn soft or melt. The melting point of copper is just under 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. A blowtorch or propane torch that might be used around the home can produce higher temperatures, but copper placed in the flame probably wouldn't melt. The reason for this is that copper is one of the better conductors of heat. When you heat up a piece of copper, the heat is quickly distributed throughout the piece of metal, and consequently is continuously being drawn away from the point where heat is being applied. As long as this is happening, the area one is trying to melt will never heat up enough to do so.
Small Pieces Melt Easier - The secret to melting copper "at home" is to use an industrial strength blowtorch, capable of producing temperatures far above the 2,000 degrees F melting point of copper, while at the same time selecting rather thin copper wire in small segments to attempt to melt. If the heat has nowhere to go, as it would not in a small piece of wire, the copper will melt.
Consider Buying A Furnace - If your goal is to melt copper for a profit, about the only practical way is to invest in a commercial furnace. It would also be wise to invest a great deal of time in not only learning how to use the furnace, but understanding all the ramifications involved in melting metals and metal alloys, with safety considerations always set as a high priority. Pennies admittedly aren't worth all the much, but are best left in the jar where they are being kept, as it would take a great number of them to pay the fine if you are caught melting copper featuring Abe Lincoln's likeness.