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I'm currently experimenting with copper coating using electrolysis. I'm using copper wire from my home, like the one you use for grounding. I want to electrolysis with longer copper wire (say 5 times the height of the container) to find out if the process will be shortened. My question here is about how I should arrange the wires in the container and if one arrangement has different effect than the other.

Here is what I have in mind:

  1. all horizontal wires connecting to one vertical wire(this will be 5 separate pieces same length connected to the vertical wire)
  2. bent like snake up and down (in one piece)

Do you think these two arrangements would work the same or differently?

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The two arrangements would produce identical results, because the copper wire conducts electricity so much better than the electrolyte solution. However, the second arrangement is more practical because no joins are needed so it would be more reliable. Generally, the surface area of the copper anode should be similar to the cathode which is to be coated to avoid concentrating the current unevenly, so increasing the anode area would probably help shorten the coating time somewhat, as it would avoid oxygen being evolved from the anode which can happen if the anode area is too small.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your comment. You just raised out my other question. Is avoiding oxygen to evolve a bad thing? Please brief. $\endgroup$ – LeviJames Apr 24 '16 at 7:40
  • $\begingroup$ You should always try to avoid electrolyte breakdown in electroplating. It can have many bad effects. For copper electroplating, the voltage needed is very small, around 0.5 volts, which is much less than the breakdown voltage of water. If the voltage is higher than 1.2V then you will get oxygen from the positive (source of copper) electrode and hydrogen from the negative (the item being plated with the copper). Excess oxygen can cause black copper oxide sludge which can cause plating to be rough and not bright. Excess hydrogen at the negative causes hydrogen embrittlement, lowering ductility. $\endgroup$ – Simon Tillson Apr 25 '16 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ I am aware of the volt but dont know that it has to be around 0.5 volts. Coming back I do remember see one or two bubble on the plate. I dont know about black copper oxide sludge but I do get very little amount of blue type sludge sometime. Do you happen to know what that is? $\endgroup$ – LeviJames Apr 25 '16 at 1:53
  • $\begingroup$ The blue sludge is probably a hydrated copper hydroxide or hydroxysulphate. If you only see a small number of bubbles, then the voltage is probably correct. I hope you get good results. I enjoy copper plating - it is a most rewarding experience with many possibilities for experimentation. $\endgroup$ – Simon Tillson Apr 25 '16 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ I actual like the blue sludge and have collected about 1cm thick radius of 3cm. I think I would like to make a bottle out of it but cant product it every time. Is there a way to produce it consistently? $\endgroup$ – LeviJames Apr 26 '16 at 8:23

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