Is it Safe to Make Jewelry with Copper Wire from a Hardware Store?

by Ana.

Is it Safe to Make Jewelry with Copper Wire from a Hardware Store?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

I’m totally new at this wire jewelry. I love to try new crafts and am pretty good at it, and I’d like to sell it in the near future.

But it’s getting to be a bit expensive in all the craft stores I’ve been to. So is it safe for me to buy copper wire in the hardware store?

I mean, I don’t want to make anyone sick or myself for that matter. I have enough health issues.

Please help. Thank you.

Ana

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  • CraftyHope says:

    I use hardware store copper wire often. It’s real copper, and I’m not sure how it would make anyone sick. I’m no expert, but that’s just my two cents.

  • Dianne says:

    Yes, copper pipe too. I do have to say however, that you might want to source your copper online. Craft stores are the most expensive places to buy supplies. It makes resale a little harder to be competitive in your pricing while still making your margin. I buy all mine from Rio Grande Jewelry Supplies. You have to have an account, but all you need is your resale license and in most states the resale license is free.
    Best of luck!

  • JV says:

    Copper is copper. The only possible difference, which will depend on what type of wire you’re buying, is that electrical and raw copper utility wire is not “tarnish resistant”. Non-tarnish coating has usually been applied to craft store wire. Depending on what you’re doing, that coating may or may not be something you want, since it can inhibit chemical patina application.

  • Susan says:

    I buy all of my copper wire at the hardware store. They sell in different gauges. If you’re thinking of using a torch with it, though, make sure you get non-coated wire. I alwo buy copper tubing and it’s very therapeutic hammering it into different things. Thin tubing, a hammer and a file are all you need to make a wonderful bangle!

  • Kim R says:

    Hi!
    I teach a 6 week metalsmithing class for beginners. The first project is a hammered cuff using heavy gauge copper that I purchase from the hardware store.
    It is untreated which is important because we use the torch to anneal and create heat patina on the copper. Most craft wire is coated which is fine if you are trying to avoid tarnish but will burn off if you use a torch.
    The copper I buy comes in giant spools on a huge rack. Its usually used for electrical wiring and you need to have someone cut it for you.. Since I buy a (relatively) small amount, the person cutting the wire usually asks me what I’m using it for which has lead to some interesting conversations.
    As some have noted above, you can also buy and use copper pipe and tubing.

    I hope you have fun experimenting!
    Kim

  • Cat says:

    I work primarily with copper, and my research reveals that using pure copper from the hardware store is about as good as it gets.

    Allergies and reactions come from other stuff that is added to jewelry grade copper, such as what they add to prevent tarnishing, etc.

    electrical contractors use pure copper because it is the best conducting electricity, no impurities or filler’s.

  • Kathi says:

    I use the antiqued copper wire from “Vintaj” for a lot of my work and LOVE IT. However, it’s thickest gauge is 16. When I want 12g or 14g I buy it from a local jewelry making supply store. If you’re into recycling, you can use old electrical wire…the plastic covering comes off leaving bare copper (usually a very heavy gauge). I love the antiqued wire because I don’t have to add patina when I use it.

  • Carol wofford says:

    I get all my copper wire from salvaged electrical wire. I buy coated electrical wire from yard sales, estate sales and anywhere else I can find it. I strip off the plastic coating and separate the wires that are twisted together. There are many gauges used for various electrical purposes and some of the heavier gauges need to be annealed but I frequently get large quantities for pennies or even free! As stated by others in the community there is no coating on it which allows for applying patina. The fact that it’s so cheap allows me to experiment without worrying about cost. I have even used old battery cable from old cars which has a nice patina on it already. Once you start looking you can find tons of salvage copper wire and pipe. Check out yard sales and estate sales, you’ll save tons of money and the land fill!

  • Diane says:

    I use hardware store copper too along with copper I’ve bought from online stores. The copper is the same and I have no problem with it other than sometimes it is more tarnished because it has been sitting on the shelves for a bit.

  • I use copper from the hardware store for practicing new techniques as I have found it has the same malleability as the Artistic Wire. It works out quite well for me! You can also recycle it much easier than the Artistic Wire as it doesn’t have that enamel coating on it

  • Lynn L says:

    I am not that familiar with copper wire, excuse me if this is a dumb question but, if you use copper wire that isn’t coated, wouldn’t it turn your skin green?

  • Alexa says:

    In what department in the big box hardware store do I find copper wire? I have asked for it and I get looked at like I’m crazy. Thanks. Alexa

  • Lindy says:

    I get my copper wire from the good ole Home Depot.. They usually have lots of left over spools just hanging in the electrical departments.. Just look inside the rubber protective coils for the size you can use. Often more than one size in one coil of copper. They will cut as much as you will ever need for pennies..Just remember you need to treat copper before wearing it as raw copper will turn skin green.. utube can help with that.. i love copper..

  • Catherine Depasquale says:

    I use hardware store copper and copper pipe residential grade for my jewelry.
    I also use salvaged wire and roofing copper. I will add to the discussion, I clean all the copper.
    I either pickle it or scrub the wire . I just feel better about it, considering where it may have been.
    I use homemade pickle from white vinegar and salt. cheap and effective. I love copper!

  • Catherine, I’ve wondered about roofing copper – if it’s pure or has a toxic metal added to it to resist galvanic damage. A local thrift shop has a 12″ wide roll in their woowoo glass case priced at $75, if it’s still there after a month I may offer them $20. 🙂

    I use hardware store wire for all the reasons mentioned above. The heavier gauge grounding wires – 4, 6, 8, – I can buy by the foot, as well as the thinner “water supply” tubes which is crazy convenient for tiny stone bezels- just cut, anneal, shape if needed, solder, then bash the stone in with my rubber mallet. Also in tearing out old leaky copper plumbing, I’ll cut to shape, wash WELL, pickle, rinse, _then_ anneal with crazy good ventilation in case of old lead or plumbing flux fragments. The only time I bought jewelry wire was when I needed square or half-round- but now that I have a basic cheap rolling mill with those rollers, I might not even need to do that. Usually it’s only half-hard, so I assume I’m going to have to anneal it.

  • shiny beige says:

    You might want to compare the prices you are spending on copper wire (from the craft store or the hardware store) with what it would cost you to buy a one-pound spool from Rio Grande, and it is also great wire you can hammer, patina or anything else. And it is the cheapest way to learn.

  • Alice says:

    Hello everyone. I usually buy copper wire from my local metal recyclers. Electricians recycle lots of bare, still shiny, un-coated wire in several gauges.
    Although, I did get tired of drawing 10 gauge down to 16 gauge, so now I buy the smaller gauges on a 1 lb spool from Rio Grande. This is cheaper than the hardware store and much easier on my hands.
    The recyclers don’t generally carry much sheet that’s in good shape, buy I have found it still with plastic film in place, and it only had one small scratch. And was way cheaper than Rio. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rio, but when I can save….plus it’s fun to look around the recyclers, they get so much intrresting metal stuff.

  • Gail says:

    I have arthritis and my daughter has migrains and I read pure copper is good for those so I want to make bracelets. I purchased Hillman copper wire from Lowes and wonder if it is safe.

  • Gail, you may want to contact the manufacturer of the Hillman wire (the package should have some contact information) and explain how you want to use this copper and whether it’s safe.

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