I know that copper has antifungal properties, but I'm not sure exactly how it works. So... How does it work exactly?

If you were fighting some fungus monsters, would using a copper sword give you any advantage over fighting them with a regular sword?

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    $\begingroup$ If your fungal monsters secrete corrosive liquids and then eat the resulting iron oxide, yes: use anything but steel. See, Halomonas titanicae, which is an Extremotroph ('extreme' 'food') discovered in a sample from the Titanic, and presumed by some to have finished eating it by 2030. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Nov 3 '19 at 1:23

No, the copper would not really enter their system from the blade of the sword. Copper is actually an essential nutrient for fungi, and also toxic in large doses. Your weapon is really only a cutting instrument, no matter what the material is the target will only get exposed to a minuscule amount. The blade will work best by being sharp. Copper is very soft, in practical use any other metal weapon could literally cut your blade in half. If you miss and hit a rock or a tree, your blade will be dull.

Now, there are occasionally species which react poorly to certain metals. If you design your fungi-monster with a copper sensitivity, it could act like a poisoned blade. But do pay attention to the down side of a soft metal. You will be replacing that sword very often.

A steel blade may be forged with a channel that holds some loose copper powder or paste. When fighting fungi, be sure the hero checks and retarnishes his blade with copper.

And serrated is not better. No one saws their enemy with a sword :).

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    $\begingroup$ Bronze would be more practical, and it might be interesting from a world building point of view to give bronze age troops an advantage of their iron age counterparts. $\endgroup$ – richardb Nov 2 '19 at 8:33
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    $\begingroup$ If a species react poorly to a "soft" metal that is unsuitable for making swords, you could make the sword out of a proper material (like hardened steel), and have inlays of the secondary metal that comes in contact with the monsters innards when cutting or piercing them. $\endgroup$ – pzkpfw Nov 2 '19 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ Yup. At the bottom of the answer. $\endgroup$ – Vogon Poet Nov 2 '19 at 12:55

If it's a magic effect, like silver weapons against werewolves, sure. But not if it's just a poison. Poison just isn't a very effective weapon in melee combat. The deadliest poisons in real life take several minutes to even show symptoms, while swordfights are over in seconds. All poisoning your sword does is let you turn a total defeat into a Pyrrhic victory. If you don't care about your life, all you have to do to be sure you kill your foe is to land a hit. Basically, poisoning your weapons doesn't do you any good if you care about your own survival. Either you win the fight, then you didn't need the poison; or if you lose the fight, you're dead. Your foe might die a few minutes/hours later, but that doesn't bring you back to life.

So with this in mind, is it really worth using a weapon so soft that just a few swings will bend it out of shape, and one or two hits on a hard surface will dull it?

If you have to use copper, switch to ranged weapons. Who cares if your arrowhead bends?

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it can be a copper alloyed with something stronger, or just coated with copper. I guess it doesn't really help with fights, but it would still be interesting for my character to have coppery swords. He is aware of the antifungal properties of copper, but doesn't know how it works, so I still see him coming to the conclusion of copper swords. He's got some phobia of fungi and hates them, so extreme wacky measures like swords specially made for fighting them is still definitely something I want to see him have. $\endgroup$ – Chickenpeep Nov 2 '19 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ Beryllium copper. Is that strong enough for good swords? $\endgroup$ – Chickenpeep Nov 2 '19 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ Beryllium was first isolated in 1828, just as swords were becoming irrelevant for soldiers. Beryllium alloys were still some distance off. So there's a technological impediment to this. You also have the problem of working beryllium in a low tech situation - the dust is highly toxic. $\endgroup$ – Graham Nov 2 '19 at 8:44
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterCordes That cuts both ways too. If you know the enemy is using chemical weapons, you treat them much more savagely. This is at the heart of the Geneva convention. You try to kill the soldier, not the person that is the soldier. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Nov 2 '19 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ @ChickenpeepChickenpeep You mean bronze? $\endgroup$ – BobTheAverage Nov 2 '19 at 21:20

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