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I tried to make copper carbonate by mixing copper acetate with a sodium carbonate solution. I was expecting to see a light blue solid form at the bottom of the beaker and instead I found a green powder distributed throughout the solution. I filtered it through a coffee filter and it started turning orange. The entire coffee filter is now covered in a bright orange powder.

I need to know whether the green powder and/or the orange powder is toxic or corrosive and also what it is.

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1 Answer 1

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When you mix copper(II) and carbonate, instead of getting pure $\ce{CuCO3}$ you get "basic copper carbonate," which has some amount of the carbonate replaced with hydroxide. This can range from blue to green. I've done this a few times with various salts and mixtures and I don't know what factors actually control the color. But green shouldn't be a surprise.

The most likely reason it turned orange is that some combination of your coffee filter and impurities in your chemicals ended up reducing some of it to $\ce{Cu2O}$, which is orange or red. But naturally, regardless of what this unknown substance actually turns out to be, you'll treat it as though it's toxic and handle it responsibly, right?

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  • $\begingroup$ Does this answer change if I had used the copper acetate to electroplate a piece of nickel and it dropped some nickel into the solution or not? $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2023 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ If your solution is contaminated with nickel, some nickel carbonate is likely also present in the green solid. Nickel carbonate is green. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Oct 24, 2023 at 14:12

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