Most ferrous based metals (iron and steel) are pyrophoric. That is, they will ignite and burn spontaneously at ambient temperatures when fresh metal surfaces are exposed. The sparks generated on a grinding wheel with steel are a result of this oxidation property of iron that produces a relatively large amount of heat; it oxidizes and burns spontaneously when a fresh surface is exposed to air.
Copper, brass, and bronze have been used extensively to replace components that may otherwise be manufactured from ferrous materials to virtually eliminate metallic sparking in explosive environments. Typically, copper and its alloys do not produce sparks with enough heat to initiate combustion when they are struck or chipped.
Indeed, a class of tools produced from hardened coppers, such as beryllium copper, is common in the market where non-sparking characteristics are considered necessary. This non sparking nature of copper is a result of the relatively low heat of formation of copper oxide as compared to iron oxides.
Heat treatable copper alloys supplied by Cadi Company are suitable applications in explosive environments where sparking would be considered hazardous and are suitable for use with non - sparking tools.
Components such as fasteners, nuts, and bolts are typical examples where copper alloys should be considered in a safety application. Any explosive atmospheric application where a component is exposed to striking force provides an opportunity to reduce hazards with the use of copper alloys.