A fancy cup always manages to elevate a drinking experience and make it a billion times more enjoyable. That's basically been scientifically proven at this point, right? Well, maybe not quite. People are starting to question whether copper mugs are safe to drink from, as some speculate the metal may be too poisonous for humans to ingest in any capacity.
Copper mugs are often used when you order a Moscow mule at the bar, which is an alcoholic beverage made with lime juice, vodka, and ginger beer. Though the copper mugs certainly add a fun sort of novelty to ordering this drink, a recent warning from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with foods or drinks that have a pH level below 6.0 -- and Moscow mules do, kind of.
According to the warning, a Moscow mule can purportedly corrode the copper interior, causing it to be leached into the food, and when someone ingests the mixture of the metal with the beverage, it may cause some nasty symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
Of course, this is assuming that the drink's overall pH level is too acidic. According to the Huffington Post, lime juice has a pH level of roughly 2.0 to 2.4, vodka's pH level is usually between 6.0 and 7.0, and the pH level of ginger beer is usually below six. Then, when testing the pH level of the cocktail when all of the ingredients were put together, the Huffington Post reported the number was below six -- meaning it is, indeed, corrosive when it comes into contact with copper.
However, a chemist has come forward to say we all may be freaking out a little too much over our precious copper mugs and Moscow mules.
Trisha Andrew, an assistant professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at UMass Amherst, told the Huffington Post that the concerns amount to nothing more than "fear-mongering."
Andrew explained that when any kind of liquid comes in contact with a surface, there is always the possibility that the container may dissolve slightly into the beverage. Glass, she noted as an example, dissolves so slowly, it wouldn't ever occur in a human lifetime.
And yes, while that dissolution process does happen a little faster with copper, Andrew insisted it's not that fast. In fact, she called the idea of being afraid to drink from a copper mug "nonsensical."
In response to the Moscow mule's too-acidic pH levels, she explained,
You have to let the copper mug sit in straight lime juice for a few hours before you can even start to begin to worry about [copper poisoning].
While research has shown that 30 mg of copper can cause nausea in those who ingest it, it apparently takes quite a lot of Moscow mules -- and those mules need to have been sitting around untouched for a while -- to reach that 30-mg limit.
Plus, it's worth noting that we actually need a small amount of copper for our bodily functions, as it helps make red blood cells and keeps your nerves healthy.
So, in the end, drinking out of a copper mug is totally your call. It's not going to kill you, but I understand if a different fancy mug would put your mind at ease.