Turning Malachite Rock into Copper

We were hiking through an outcropping of mountains that jutted out of the Arizona desert when we came across a vein of interesting rock beneath our feet.

This was not my first adventure in this landscape with my friends and we had brought tools for situations just like this.

I removed a small rock hammer from my backpack and began excavating some of the rock.

Among the quartz and other stones was a small teal green rock. Unlike the quartz which was in large supply, there was only small trace amounts of the unique green stone. I remembered having a piece similar to this is my rock collection as a child. “I think this is some form of copper.”

It might seem odd that nobody else had chipped this out before us, however we were in a remote area that required special permission to access. It had formerly been used as a place to test air to surface missiles and still had the potential for unexploded ordanace to be present. I doubted anyone had set foot where we were standing in the past 50 years.

We collected some samples to analyze later back where we’d have internet access.

After further research I determined we had found some Malachite. Malachite is a beautiful stone typically polished down to make jewelry. It is common to see in Middle Eastern shops and bazaars where it is polished into small spheres and made into bracelets and necklaces. A lesser known fact is that when heated to extreme temperatures, this material turns to copper. Some sources say the Egyptians mined Malachite to use for copper in their decorations.

After hearing about this, I had to test it for myself. I only had small pieces from the dig site in Arizona so I acquired more raw materials on eBay.

Follow the rest of this story on my YouTube channel. Link below.


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