Copper is an incredible metal that’s been used for millenia across the world, from ancient civilizations to present-day societies. Not only do we love how strikingly beautiful this material is, we're fascinated by its history and its valuable health and functionality benefits. In this article, we also want to share the wonderful story behind Sertodo Copper, an artisan cooperative with gorgeous copper drinkware, flasks, cookware, baking equipment, bartending tools, and more that we are proud to carry here on Made Trade.
The History of Copper
Copper was one of the very first metals to be put to use by human civilizations. This can likely be attributed to the fact that copper not only occurs in nature as ores that can be converted into metal, but as actual metal in the ground as well. Plus, as a malleable metal, craftspeople could easily hammer it into sheets and various shapes with rocks without heating.
Evidence suggests that the discovery of copper could date as far back as 10,000 years ago, and historians estimate the Sumerians and Chaldeans of Mesopotamia first made significant use of copper about 5000 - 6000 years ago.
Copper production and the production of bronze, an alloy of copper, also developed in other areas around the world. The production of copper in Egypt can be dated roughly around 3500 BC, where the metal was used for water piping, mirrors, adornments, instruments, and various other tools. And a few copper artifacts from China can be dated to 3000 BC, though copper and bronze goods were in circulation more widely during the second millennium BC. Evidence shows that Central America began producing copper goods around 600 AD and West Africa started utilizing copper around 900 AD.
Eventually, societies transitioned to using a copper alloy, bronze. This period of bronze production and trade is classified as the Bronze Age, which is part of the three-stage system for classifying ancient civilizations. (The three stages in this classification are the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.)
Though iron took over as the predominant metal beginning in 1200 BC, societies continued to use copper because of its corrosion resistance and ductility. And the material is still used for a variety of types of goods today because of its numerous superior properties.
Copper's Functionality Benefits
Today, copper can be used as a highly effective material for cookware. Copper creates an even distribution of heat and can heat much faster than other materials, which means less risk of burning your meal and less time cooking—benefits that can be appreciated by both home chefs and professionals alike. Plus, copper cookware looks beautiful when put on display in a kitchen!
Copper is also naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, which makes it a great material for storage as well.
The Health Benefits of Copper
Copper is an important mineral for our health but is not naturally synthesized by our body, and must be taken in through external sources.
Additionally, drinking water that has been stored in copper vessels can have numerous health benefits. It’s common practice in the Ayurveda practice to drink water that’s been cleansed and ionized in a copper vessel for at least 8 hours. When the water is stored in copper vessels, a very small amount of copper gets dissolved in the water, and copper’s mineral properties are infused into the water.
The copper mineral has many health benefits, including boosting the body’s digestive system, immunity, cardiovascular health, and skin health. Copper has also been recognized to increase bone strength, reduce joint pain, regulate the functioning of the thyroid gland, and stimulate brain function, among many more benefits.
The Federal Drug Administration recommends getting 12mg of copper per day, which can be achieved through drinking two to three glasses of water from copper vessels per day.
Cleaning Your Copper Naturally
To clean your copper cookware, cups, and other products naturally, use a home recipe such as tamarind and salt, lemon and salt, or vinegar and salt. Afterwards, to neutralize any remaining acidity from one of one of these acidic mixtures, rinse your copper goods with a mild soap and then rinse again with water.
Once your copper is fully rinsed, it’s recommended to towel dry to prevent spotting. Though, if you like the patina finish (which is the result of oxidation of the copper surface) on your copper goods, rest assured that the copper will still retain its detoxifying properties.
About Sertodo Copper
Here on Made Trade we're proud to carry responsibly made, sustainable copper goods from Sertodo Copper. Sertodo Copper is an international cooperative working collaboratively with artisan workshops in Austin, Texas in the U.S. and Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan in Mexico who create stunning and 100% recycled copper goods.
The tradition of these artisans' copper work originated over 1000 years ago. There are various theories for the origins of copper in the region, some believe it began with the appearance of Quetzalcoatl—a feathered serpent deity, some attribute the introduction of copper to Mexico from intercontinental trade, and others ascribe it to creativity and spontaneity within the region.
In the sixteenth century, during the conquest of Spain and the Church, a lawyer turned missionary, Don Vasco de Quiroga, led the Michoacan, the region Santa Clara del Cobre is part of. As part of de Quirogo's "utopia experiment", he assigned different communities to various crafts and trades–from woodworking to copperworking.
Founder Jonathan Beall created Sertodo Copper in 1997 to bring the heritage craft of these copper workers to a broader audience. Working with these master copper artisans for over two decades, Sertodo Copper is well-versed in this heritage craft, and ensures their handcrafted hammered copper goods are top-notch quality.
As a small, founder-owned company, Sertodo Copper is passionate about crafting each product with integrity, going against the more common avenue of mass production and automated production. Every piece is hand crafted and hand hammered by highly skilled coppersmiths from Santa Clara del Cobre. Sertodo Copper believes in following a business model that supports the ancient art form of coppersmithing, ensuring their master artisans are paid fairly for their goods, which helps support the local economy. Sertodo works collaboratively with these copper craftspeople—the artisans help direct the vision, mission, and growth of the company.
The copper goods brand is committed to creating the highest quality, sustainably sourced pieces with functionality and durability that will last for many generations.
A few of our favorite Sertodo Copper pieces: