# When recovering Copper from Copper Chloride via Aluminum, why can't we use Sodium instead to make Sodium Chloride?

About a week ago in my Middle School Science Class, we used an aluminum washer and some copper chloride, which we had gotten from creating circuit boards, in a closed system to recover the copper (if it was possible). We resulted in getting some copper flakes, but as a consequence the copper was replaced by aluminum in the chloride solution. So technically it is still a waste material that can't be used in everyday life, despite having recovered the copper.

So I got thinking: If Salt, or Sodium Chloride, is Sodium and Chlorine, and is much more useful than Aluminum Chloride or Copper Chloride since we need it in our everyday diets, what prevents us from using it to recover copper from chlorine?

I asked my teacher what she thought about the subject, and she explained that apparently sodium is very reactive when not bonded to anything and so is hard to come by naturally without extracting it from something else. I gathered that Aluminum, as reactive as it is, is apparently more common to find, or cheaper to manufacture, than sodium is. This was an unsure answer, as the costs and waste produced when manufacturing aluminum vs. manufacturing sodium were not looked up or explained.

However, in an earlier lesson we had learned that manufacturing aluminum produces a lot of hazardous waste, and so does not have a great impact on the environment to make. I do not know about sodium and its costs and waste production.

With that information provided, and a consideration of the environment at hand, would it be better to consistently use sodium in the recovery of copper from copper chloride than aluminum? Consider all waste produced from manufacturing and all costs to create when answering, please.

Thank you.

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• Go ahead, try it. All you have to do is obtain some metallic sodium, then when you add it to the water avoid side reactions with the water that will consume the sodium ... and possibly ignite. Can you use magnesium, maybe? – Oscar Lanzi May 23 '17 at 0:42