Oxygen Free Copper. What is it?

Cables are boring; there, I said it. So how does one market something that is inherently not that exciting? I grew up deep into computers, networks and programming. I can remember the birth of so many interesting things that cables have facilitated, but I can never recall coming home shouting about a C13 to NEMA 5-15P. Okay, I admit, even us geeks would call this a computer power cord. So how does one go about making these things interesting? And what is really important?

One of the biggest, annoyingly brilliant deals in copper cables was to declare a cable has oxygen free copper (OFC). This is genius because one takes a simple term most didn’t think was worth mentioning and it becomes some marketing juggernaut. Hey, In most cases we say it too. Copper cables are oxygen free. So what exactly is going on there?

Copper is a base element (Cu on the periodic table). So how does copper get oxygen? Well it’s not like we mine pure copper from the ground. There are impurities in the ore itself. We also introduce impurities when we refine the copper ore. Typically some oxygen gets into the mix at the refinement stage. Depending on the requirements of the final product, the refinement methods and process can vary.

C10100 (trade name: Oxygen-Free-Electronic) the final portion of it’s process occurs in an airspace devoid of oxygen with rules so stringent even silver is considered an impurity. Keep in mind this stuff is going into places like vacuums inside a particle accelerator or a CPU where any impurity can matter. I think this might be overkill for speaker wire. Maybe I am wrong though, it does have a 101% IACS conductivity rating. Wait, is this like giving 110% of oneself? I love giving more than all

C10200 (trade name: Oxygen-Free) differs in that silver is not considered an impurity and it can have more oxygen, by a power of 50 which means very little when it’s 0.0005% vs 0.001% and we are using it for speakers…

C11000, is called Electrolytic-Tough-Pitch (ETP), relaxes the rules even further. It typically can equal more than all in conductivity as well. This is the copper that finds itself all over normal applications. (Shut up, a particle accelerator is not normal!) Most of what is out there and marketed as oxygen free copper is this stuff here. I am sure that there are some cables out there which are made with C10200 and there always will be because some people will buy them just like people keep thinking a Cat5e cable marketed as 250MHz is better than 100MHz. Side note on a completely different rant if that 250MHz Cat5e was so amazing they would have printed Cat6 on the packaging and jacked the price…. (Though I think I might be due a rant on this so we’ll see.)

What really matters is that your cables, wires and cords that should be copper are indeed copper, not aluminum, and that they are uniformly and well constructed. You need to choose a cable that is of the correct materials and size for the intended use. If you are unsure about the gauge you need for a 100 foot run delivering 100 watts to a two way in your garden, don’t fret we have Tech Support to help you out.


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