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Electroplating Copper on Stainless Steel

Chemicals and Solutions

  • Copper electrode
  • Stainless steel electrode
  • Copper sulfate electrolyte (0.5M CuSO)


  • Gotham cell (rectangular glass jar)
  • D.C. power supply with alligator clips
  • 2 - electrode holders


  1. Show student the electrodes. Place electrodes in holders and in cell.
  2. Fill cell 3/4 full with CuSO solution.
  3. Connect red clip to copper electrode, black clip to other.
  4. Use 6-8 volts D.C. You'll soon have a copper coating on the steel electrode. Show students copper coating.
  5. After use, reverse polarity and electroplate until copper just disappears from steel electrode. Do not allow to run any longer as solution would be ruined.
  6. If step 5 has been completed satisfactorily, return solution to stock bottle.


The reaction:

At the copper anode:

\( \ce{ Cu_{(s)} -> Cu+_{(aq)} + 2e- } \)

At the stainless steel cathode:

\( \ce{ Cu2+_{(aq)} + 2e- -> Cu_{(s)} } \)