The basic contents of a copper plating kit often include a power supply, copper chemical electrolyte in powder form, brighteners, copper anodes, hanging pipes, copper wire, stainless steel wire, bridging wire and an instruction manual. Gloves, goggles and a dust mask are worn during the mixing and handling process to protect the user from the chemicals involved with electroplating copper.
In the process of electroplating, the user mixes copper electrolyte with water to form a solution of copper ions, and this bath is used at room temperature. Before plating, the user brushes off the item using abrasive paper and then brightens it using chemical cleaners. Following this, the user attaches one copper wire to a hanging pipe and hangs another copper anode from the other pipe. Both anodes are connected to the power supply with wires.
Electroplating works by drawing copper ions to a non-copper surface using electricity through a solution. Because the anodes are already copper in a solution of copper, the ions are drawn to other metals hanging in the bath. Electroplating is most commonly done with gold, chromium, copper, nickel and zinc. The process can take minutes or hours depending upon how much surface area is covered with the ions and how many ions are in the bath.