This really takes me back to when I had to hear my mom preach about the uses and benefits of Tamara. All in a time when copper jugs and bottles were not a trend that companies capitalised on. Times were simpler then, with our mothers using copper vessels that often came with conversations about extra flavour, superior heat conductivity and maybe some Ayurveda too. So, what is it about this metal that is lost in translation over the years? Did we miss some lessons from the past, or did modern times bring it back with business? I mean… bang?
Let’s start this article with some foundational information about copper. Did you know that this underrated metal paved the bridge between the Neolithic and bronze era? It is often referred to as the Chalcolithic or the copper age and began around 5th millennia B.C. While the references to copper may be few, it is said civilizations were aware of smelting copper by 4500 B.C. This knowledge is what paved the way to alloys, of which Bronze was the most prominent.
Copper pooja chombu with Adhishankara engraving
Fast forward to recent times, numerous studies have been conducted on the benefits of copper with researchers drawing fine lines between the facts and the fads. One such study is related to the benefits of drinking water from copper vessels, but we’ll come back to that. Here’s one study that talks about how copper has proven beneficial in reducing microbial infections when used as a coating on hospital surfaces. It is also being considered to make antifungal socks with copper woven into them.
Health benefits of copper:
Ayurvedic texts show that using copper can greatly help restore balance to the Vata, Kapha and Pitta in the body. There are numerous references in the Charaka Samhita that show copper as an active ingredient in different formulations. It is said that the formulations containing copper could treat a variety of diseases and ailments such as Krimi (intestinal worms), Sthaulya (obesity), Arsha (piles), Ksaya (tuberculosis), Pandu (anaemia), Kusta (leprosy), Swasa (asthma), Kasa (cough), Amlapitta (gastritis), Sotha (inflammation), Sula (pain), Yakrit Roga (liver disorders) and Grahani dosha (irritable bowel syndrome). Studies show that storing water in copper vessels has the potential to kill Diarrhoeagenic bacteria.
Antique Brass and Copper Ganga Jamuna Pot
- Copper helps in the absorption of iron
- It boosts collagen production and is great for the skin, and companies such as Forest Essentials actively use copper in the making of their products.
- It helps with neurodevelopment and cognitive functions.
- It is great for the hair, eyes and tissues.
- It boosts red blood cell production.
- It promotes proper functioning of thyroid glands.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce symptoms of arthritis and help with pain management.
Now that we know the general benefits of copper, let’s take a closer look at drinking water from copper vessels.
Water stored in copper tumblers, jugs or bottles, becomes infused with the ions that surround it. A glass of copper-ion infused water can provide the following benefits:
- Stimulated brain function
- Increase in bone strength
- Helps combat arthritis and joint pain
- Slows ageing
- Has anti-carcinogenic properties
- Promotes overall cardiovascular health
- Helps with wound healing
- Regulated thyroid function
- Helps with obesity
- Boosts skin health
While copper may seem very inviting with all these properties, care must be taken when consuming foods or copper-infused water. A healthy adult needs 14mg of copper a day as a micronutrient. However, one must remember that copper can also be found in a variety of food that is consumed on a daily basis. There are downsides to overdoing any trend and ingesting high levels of copper can lead to copper poisoning, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, jaundice, vomiting and even anaemia.
Sticking to the consumption of one glass of copper-infused water would suffice.
Household use of copper vessels
People often think that using and cleaning copper requires quite a bit of elbow grease but they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Copper is, in fact, one of the best conductors of heat. Copper pans and pots evenly distribute the heat throughout the surface, making the vessels perfect for boiling, heating and reductions. Copper vessels are of two types, with and without alloys. The most common alloy is tin and this is often found on the inside of the vessel. The alloy protects the copper surface from acidic foods and prevents leaching of ions that give it a metallic taste.
Here’s how you can use copper vessels that have an alloy lining:
- These vessels are perfect for acidic foods such as rasams or sour sambar.
- Copper vessels are great for stir-frys given their uniform heating, ensuring that every sabji that comes out of the pan is perfectly cooked.
- They can be used to cook rice with spices and citrus juice as they do not corrode or leach into the food.
- Copper tumblers with a lining can also be used as serveware and drinkware for lemonades, cocktails and mocktails with an added bonus of aesthetic appeal.
- They can be used to serve curd or other cream dips without altering the taste.
Now that we’ve covered alloyed vessels, let’s take a look at non-alloyed vessels and vessels with a copper coating.
- Some copper vessels do not come with an alloy for a reason. Copper allows for even heat distribution and this is perfect for making and cooking down sugary goods such as toffees, sugar syrups and jams.
- These vessels are great for cooking plain rice without having to worry about burns.
- They are great for steaming, blanching and quick broils.
- There are also vessels that only have a copper bottom. These vessels are particularly made for heat conductivity and are great for curries and small pot meals.
- And lastly, storage. Copper vessels can be used as perfect serve ware and for storage of spices, food and snacks.
In conclusion, copper is a truly versatile metal with numerous health benefits. All it takes to lead a healthy life is a pause to truly pay attention to what is in your home and kitchen. And this time, all you need is a bit of copper.
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