The copper sink market can be confusing. Here are answers to frequently asked questions from customers looking to sort out real information from marketing spin or jargon. Our aim is to keep the buying decision simple by educating our customers about copper sinks and our company.
There are a lot of copper sinks available—what should I be looking for?
You want to the best value: the highest quality product at the lowest price. We are often asked about the differences between the sinks you can buy on eBay, those available on specialty websites and the ones at big-box home improvement stores. It is important to be informed when purchasing a copper sink; all these sinks may look similar, but there are a number of differences to be aware of.
Higher price does not always equal higher value—take for example, Yosemite Copper Sinks, which are Chinese made sinks that are often sold at big-box retailers. These stores purchase the sinks from a wholesaler, not the factory who makes them, driving up the price. In addition to a higher price, copper sinks made in China and India have been known to test positive for lead additives, and are often manufactured with thinner, higher-gauge copper that is easily damaged. The last thing you want is to pay a higher price for a potential health risk product that may need to be replaced in a few years.
At Copper Sinks Online, we’ve cut out the middle-man distributors and connected directly with 3rd generation coppersmiths in Santa Clara del Cobre, Mexico. This region of Mexico has had renowned copper craft for centuries. Because of our first-hand relationship with the artisans, we are able to provide you with the highest quality, hand-crafted copper goods on the market by the best in the business at an unbeatable price.
Copper Sinks Online does not and will not sell “seconds”, flawed sinks that appear okay to the untrained eye, but may cause problems in the long run. In addition, we make our sinks from the thickest gauge, lead-free copper available. After a decade in the business we have a long list of satisfied customers. You’ll find dealing with an established, reputable company has a lot of benefits.
When you buy from Copper Sinks Online you will not only get a great copper sink, you’ll also get on-going help with your sink even after the sale. We stand behind our sinks and our service. You can buy with confidence from Copper Sinks Online, knowing you’ve found a company whose entire mission is to be the best copper sink provider in the business and offer the best value for your money.
Where are your sinks made?
We are a US based company, and craft our sinks exclusively in our own copper sink workshop in Santa Clara del Cobre, Mexico for an entirely North American made product. We have searched the world over from India to East Asia and the Middle East for the best available source for handmade copper sinks. We have found that the hand hammered copper sinks from the Santa Clara region in Mexico are the best in the world for artisan style quality and craftsmanship.
Is shipping really free?
Yes! On orders exceeding $100 in value, we’re happy to offer free shipping to addresses in the lower 48 states of the US. Free shipping applies to standard ground shipment via a common carrier. If your address lies outside our free shipping area, or your order total is less than our $100 minimum, shipping charges are determined on each product individually. When your order doesn’t meet our free shipping criteria, be sure to take the shipping charges associated with each item you order into account.
How should I care for my copper sink?
Caring for our copper sinks is simple. This is one of those cases where less is definitely more! There’s no need for fancy cleaning products with a copper sink. For basic cleaning, simply use a mild soap and water. Avoid copper cleaners, abrasive pads and those highly advertised chemical cleaners—all of these can change the surface of the metal. Copper will naturally patina over time and develop a warm medium patina.
If you’d like to give your copper sink extra protection, we recommend you periodically apply a coat of Renaissance Wax. For complete information on caring for your copper sink see our Copper Maintenance Instructions page.
What do I need to know about the various finishes copper sinks come in?
All metals react to the elements. Copper’s reaction just happens to be a very pleasing one. Copper doesn’t rust like steel or pit like aluminum, instead it develops a lovely aged patina—it’s a living finish that we like to refer to as the basin’s soul. The evolution of a copper finish is gradual, becoming more handsome with time, usually settling into a mellow, weathered copper-brown patina. The patina never stops changing; it will darken with time, lighten when it comes into contact with certain substances, such as vinegar or lemon juice, then darken again. Sudden changes can occur when acidic foods stand on the sink, or when chemical cleaners are used. If you’d like to protect your sink’s finish from mishaps and reduce this change by using wax as mentioned above. Enjoy the living qualities of your beautiful hand hammered sink—truly a unique and functional work of art.
What finishes are available?
We have several finishes available with our SoLuna brand. Matte Copper is a pure raw copper finish that will age naturally and eventually take on the finish of a weathered penny. If you don’t want to wait we offer other finish options. We have a Dark Smoke—a rich, dark chocolate shade, Rio Grande—which is also dark, but we buff the high points to give it a lovely, textured look, Café Natural—which looks like warm milk chocolate (with a hint of cinnamon).
Over the years we’ve found that most folks like to start with a patina rather than wait for the natural patina process. We create three patina finishes using high heat to accelerate the patina process. We also apply darkening agents to achieve our dark finishes. Our sinks are never painted or lacquered. We’ve found that trying to protect a copper sink with lacquer is not a long term option. The lacquer chips away little by little, leading to an uneven coloration. In most cases it’s better to rely on regular applications of wax to preserve your finish.
How thick is the copper used?
The thickness of a copper sink is very important to the satisfaction you will get from your sink and the longevity of the product. We use the thickest gauge copper you will find in the industry—16 gauge copper for our bathroom sinks and 14 gauge copper for our kitchen sinks and bath tubs. We are the only company that refuses to cut corners and save cost by using thinner gauge copper. Why? Imagine the use and abuse a typical kitchen sink receives during its lifetime. If you install a kitchen sink made from the lighter 16 gauge metal, the bottom and sides of the sink will become dented after just a few months. The much thicker 14 gauge copper we use for our kitchen sinks is able to stand up to much more wear and tear and will provide a lifetime of service. Yes, we could offer lower priced sinks if we were to use the thinner gauge material, but our customers would not be nearly as happy as they are now. We have been in the copper sink business for years and intend to stay at the top of the copper sink market for many years to come. That’s why we refuse to compromise. We won’t create inferior products and we will continue to offer strong, long-lasting copper sinks meant to endure for a lifetime.
What is the purity of the copper used in your sinks?
There are many myths and misleading statements bandied about on the subject of copper purity. Many companies claim to use “pure copper” without really explaining what the term means. 100% pure copper is available, but is very soft. If you want a strong, long lasting product, a small amount of zinc must be added to the copper to create an alloy that has the strength to last. The amount of zinc in our sinks is less than 1%, the remaining 99% is copper. This formula has been proven to be the best for over 100 years.
Most of the copper used by copper sink manufacturers is recycled, or reclaimed from copper scrap. When the metal is melted down any impurities are removed. This also gives us the opportunity to make sure there is absolutely no lead in the alloy. This is a big difference between our copper sinks and those of some overseas manufacturers. We could sell less expensive copper sinks made in other parts of the world, but our experience has shown that many countries are not concerned about making sure the copper used in sink manufacture is lead free. This has always been our top concern, and we will continue to make sure that our sinks are not just the longest lasting but also the safest available.
Is virgin copper better?
Virgin is important for olive oil and for wool, but not for copper. 80% of the copper ever mined is still in use today, being continually recycled. Given the ease of recycling copper, mining virgin copper is an unnecessary and expensive option. Structurally there is no difference between virgin copper and reclaimed copper, so either will produce a great sink. Virgin copper is primarily used by large, factory sink manufacturers for the commercial kitchen market. The large rolls that virgin copper comes in are really only suited to machine manufacture. That’s not the product we create. We make our sinks by hand, for customers who understand the value and beauty of handcrafted works of art, and for that you can’t beat reclaimed copper.
How are your seams welded?
There are many sinks coming into the marketplace with soldered seams. There are two major problems with solder—first, soldered seams will not patina like the rest of the sink. Over time you’ll see uneven colored patches at the seams. Our sinks are welded with 100% copper TIG welding and will patina at the same rate as the rest of the sink. The second and more troubling problem with soldered seams is that you cannot be sure of the content of the solder itself. Solder can contain lead, which should not be introduced into the sink at any stage of manufacturing. Avoid sinks with soldered seams.
What is UPC/IAPMO and is it important?
These acronyms stand for Uniform Plumbing Code/International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. There has been some disinformation spread around the internet suggesting that copper sinks need to be IAPMO listed. The truth of the matter is that any company whose sinks are listed has paid to have their product submitted and approved for the list. More importantly, having this sticker on a sink does not indicate quality—in fact, some lesser quality products display these stickers in an effort to sway customer opinion. In addition, getting a product listed does not mean that it will meet your local building department code. All listing means is that the product meets a standard set by the listing agency.
Listing agencies and standards bodies help manufacturers of factory made products, they are not as much help to makers of artisan products. Because our sinks are unique, hand hammered, created one-at-a-time by a skilled copper artisan in an old world, time intensive process. This makes submitting products for IAPMO listing impractical. Virtually none of our sinks have IAPMO stickers, yet they are among the highest quality sinks available anywhere. The building codes governing sinks are quite general, rarely addressing the material the sink is made from. You can always check with your local building official if there is a concern about any sink, but you should not have a problem with our sinks.
Is Copper a sanitary material?
Interestingly enough, natural copper is more sanitary than most other basin materials and actually has antibacterial properties. Scientific data shows that bacteria can live for days on stainless steel surfaces. On copper surfaces however, bacteria die in just a few hours, in cluding MRSA, the most resistant bacteria. Starting in 2012, many hospitals in the U.S. and the commercial food preparation industry are rethinking the value of copper regarding this very issue, and incorporating copper on what are called "touch surfaces," to combat the spread of bacteria.
Is the drain included with my purchase?
Drains are not included with our copper sinks. We’ve found that customers prefer to select their own drains and including a standard drain won’t fit everyone’s needs. So we carry a variety of drains for you to choose from. We have a large selection of drain styles and finishes to complement your lovely new sink.
Where are the drains placed in your kitchen sinks?
Most homeowners prefer the drain for their sink to be centered, and this is the configuration commonly used by most building codes and plumbers, so this is where we typically place the drains of our sinks. If you would like your drain in another location we’ll be happy to create a sink with the drain placed to suit your project.
Will the template for the basin be supplied?
Each of our copper sinks are artisan handcrafted creating a truly unique work of art. As our sinks are not factory-made, you are receiving a truly unique piece that is like no other in the world. To ensure your sink will fit, we recommend that you wait to make cuts to your countertops or cabinets until you have your actual bowl in hand. Ordering early in the building or remodeling process will help ensure you have the sink when you need it.
Are there any tricks to installing a copper sink?
Sometimes the shape of a sink can change during shipping. The bottom of the sink can even invert slightly, or develop some waviness. This can easily be remedied by popping the bottom of the sink back down with the heel of your hand. Occasionally it helps to gently tap inside the sink with a rubber mallet in the immediate vicinity around the drain. Even if you can’t see waviness it’s not a bad idea to do this before installing, just to ensure that the drain hole is at its lowest point prior to installation, which will facilitate drainage.
Bending at the rim is another common shipping effect. The bend can usually be corrected with little effort. Place the sink upside down on a level surface and gently tap the rim down with a wood or rubber mallet until it is flat all around. This is a good idea, even if there is no apparent unevenness or noticeable curve in the rim. Ensuring the flatness of the rim in this manner before installing will help create the best possible seal between your sink and countertop. This procedure will not affect your warranty and is a quick and easy way to prep your sink for installation.
Can Copper Sinks Online create special orders or custom sizes?
Absolutely! We love working with clients on special designs. That’s one of the beauties of artisan crafted copper—we can create each sink or tub on a made to order basis. Please give us a call, we’ll be happy to provide a price quote and information on lead time.
Can copper sinks be under mounted?
Whether kitchen or bath styles, any of our basins with a flat lip can be installed as an under mount or as a drop-in (also known as self-rimming). Designs with a rounded lip or decorative rims such as the rope motif can only be installed as drop-ins.
What precautions should I use with my copper sink?
Hand hammered copper is a very forgiving material, and easy to maintain. To avoid unwanted changes to the patina finish of the sink do not use corrosives such as chlorine, concentrated vinegar, abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals. Although the copper and structure of the sink itself will not be harmed, the patina finish could be removed if any of these types of chemicals or agents are applied to surface of the sink.
What maintenance is required for my sink?
Caring for our copper bowls is surprisingly easy. They’re virtually maintenance free. For information on care see our article Copper Maintenance Instructions.