copper sinks use and care

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you are looking for a lead free copper sink, consider sinks made in the USA.

about copper

Escherichia coli (E. coli) comprise a group of strains of bacterium commonly found in the intestines of cattle, sheep and humans. Although most strains are harmless to humans, several strains are known to be toxic. Verocytotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC), particularly E. coli O157: H7 is a food-borne pathogen, which has caused several outbreaks of hemolytic colitis. In the elderly and children, VTEC infections can lead to hemolytic uremia syndrome, a life-threatening condition usually treated in intensive care and often requiring blood transfusion and kidney dialysis. It is believed that the number of organisms required to produce infection is quite low and ingestion of as low as 10 to 50 individual bacteria may be sufficient. Thus, very small numbers of pathogens can contaminate work surfaces, with the potential to transfer to uncontaminated raw, processed or precooked foods. Consequently VTEC infections represent a significant and serous public heath problem. The chart below indicates the speed in which pure copper kills off bacteria.
Alloy UNS No. %Cu Elapsed Time ( minutes) at 20 ºC Elapsed Time ( minutes) at 4 ºC
Copper   Rep Initial Drop-off Zero Count Rep Initial Drop-off Zero Count
C11000 100 6 75 90 4 180 270
Stainless Steel              
S30400 00.0    6 not seen               not reached    2      not seen               not reached  


  1. C.W. Keevil, J.T. Walker and A. Maule, Copper surfaces inhibit Escherichia coli O157, Various Pagination. In: Seminario Cobre y Salud, 20 de Noviembre del Ano 2000. CEPAL/Comision Chilena del Cobre/International Copper Association, Ltd.; Santiago, Chile, arrow
  2. S.A. Wilks and C.W. Keevil, Improved work surfaces to prevent cross-contamination and spread of Listeria monocytogenes, 103rd General Meeting, American Society for Microbiology, May 17-22, Washington, D.C., arrow

Remember, if you are looking at a copper sink, make sure there is no lacquer, wax or any other coating over the copper. The lacquer will  eliminate the antibacterial properties of the copper. The best choice is a copper sink with no a natural copper interior or an interior that has been weathered with organic materials and left with no coating on the copper..

Note: There have been misleading claims that have caught the attention of the EPA and the Copper Development Association. Here is one such article from
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about antimicrobial copper