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weird colored copper


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Found this today in a home only a few months old. Notice the odd purplish-reddish coloration on some of the wires. The multi-strand neutral wiring had a normal copper color to it, but only a few of the solid conductors did. The ground wires were all normally colored, but some hot conductors were similarly purple. I checked the terminal screws; they were all tight. I called an electrician friend. He suggested that the wiring may be made of recycled materials, and indicated that he had seen some color issues with that...but he was far from convincing.

Any ideas? Possibly some reaction with the insulation jacket?

(Yes, I know the doubled up configuration isn't right. I'm not asking about that.)

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My first thought would be to look around the room for any stored chemicals that might be reacting with the copper, but that doesn't make sense if all aren't similarly discolored. It almost has to be something from the manufacturing process.

Brian G.

Designer Wiring? [;)]

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One of the ores that copper is extracted from is bornite. Bornite is a mineral that when oxidized can turn iridescent purple. The copper used in some of those wires probably wasn't as thoroughly purified as the others.

I don't really know if that's the cause, but I'll bet most folks would believe me.

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Originally posted by Brandon Whitmore

To heck with the purple wires, what camera did you use to take such a nice close up?

The camera is a cheap HP. I use it since it's small, the lack of an extendable lens gives great battery life, it has a metal casing which has taken a few knocks quite well, and it has a useful digital zoom--unlike my Canon's which arguably were better cameras overall.

I use the lowest resolution possible (VGA) to keep file size manageable. I just know how to press the little button with the flower icon (macro mode, for those not familiar with the term) for the close up shots.[;)]


There are no chemicals stored around the panel; it's an exterior location. Normal residential location --no chemical factories nearby either!

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