Cleaning pennies with Acetone
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23 posts in this topic

Hello all, A short time ago, I had posted the question about cleaning the rust? or oxidation? or "cancer" or whatever it is actually called off of my pennies.  Several replies mentioned soaking them in Acetone, also asked if I could post a picture of what I am dealing with.  I finally got to do this and have it attached here. Please let me know if this is possible, what I can expect and basically how I need to do this.  A big thank you to all for your kind help in the past I really do appreciate it.  MikeMVC-019S.JPG.3cb6daf9a681b2ae6205658bbb145d88.JPG

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Usually acetone will not affect the surfaces of the metal. Copper can be a little finicky sometimes though. I would take one and let it sit overnite in some acetone and see what you get. Remember acetone is very flammable, so put it somewhere safe. It also evaporates very fast, so I would put it in a glass jar or coffee cup and fill it about half way.  No styrofoam or plastic. Lol 

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Use in a well ventilated space away from flames or sparks. Acetone is an organic solvent. It might loosen some surface crud by dissolving the underlying oils.

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3 hours ago, RWB said:

Use in a well ventilated space away from flames or sparks. Acetone is an organic solvent. It might loosen some surface crud by dissolving the underlying oils.

Bingo! I have never seen acetone help green crud on cents. If green copper crud is your target, you need a boiling hot cup of a solution of baking soda, but be forewarned, the green crud doesn’t go away, it goes dark.

Oh if only every generation had just had chemistry kits...

Edited by VKurtB
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"Mr. Wizard Chemistry Set" Included materials and instructions for making very crude gunpowder. All it did was fizz a little. They did not disclose the "secret" to making the good stuff.

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1 hour ago, MN1 said:

Always been told since the beginning of collecting and to this day, never clean your coins.  Cleaning does nothing for the coin but strip value.

Explain that to NGC Conservation services. The wrong kind of cleaning strips value and even destroys coins. 

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2 hours ago, MN1 said:

Always been told since the beginning of collecting and to this day, never clean your coins.  Cleaning does nothing for the coin but strip value.

There are numerous chemical-only (no rubbing or scrubbing) treatments that are used widely in the hobby, including by our esteemed hosts. Things go awry when people attempt to mix chemical A with metal B. Each metal, and each contaminant, have their own solutions. One size does not fit all. Silver is not copper, and neither are gold. Trying to mix metals with inappropriate chemicals is unwise, to wit, acetone and copper are not a great mix, per se.

I use acetone, but nearly exclusively with white metals, like CuNi or silver.

Edited by VKurtB
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Looks like no one wants to share their secrets, no clue why, but I have lincoln cents I would really like to clean up. It's not my intention to ruin them, sell them, or pay a TPG to "conserve" them, just want nice looking coins for my own collection without breaking the bank. My 1st step was Dawn and water, no luck there, soaked a few in acetone, worthless effort , now I have them sitting in mineral oil, hopefully this treatment won't take months. Any ideas, chemical or not, are greatly appreciated.

pennies.jpg

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There are no "secrets", copper is highly reactive to the environment it is in, once a copper coin has been exposed to harsh environmental forces and/or spent time in the ground most of the time it just cannot be restored.  Unfortunately what I see in your bowl falls into the cannot be saved category.  Unless you have some very rare dates in there you would be far ahead to just buy these, most coins from the 1940's to current can be had for a few dollars to a few pennies in BU red condition.  I have been collecting Lincoln cents for over 2 decades and have tried just about every possible cocktail I've ever read about, nothing really works.  The mineral oil will help a couple of those but you will have to soak them for 6-9 months.

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Are you willing to spend some money (highly likely far more than the coins are worth) and invest potentially several weeks of waiting? Knowing that the method might or might not help, and that you could so very cheaply just buy nicer pieces to replace them? I didn't weigh on the originals in because unless these pennies have some enormous sentimental value, I would be basically insulting the OP's intelligence. But if you really want to spend the money and do the work, knowing it will have somewhat unpredictable consequences, you can try the method I found helpful to knock some bronze disease off an ancient Magnentius piece that looked like a smurf had hocked a mucous on it. Be aware this may not work, will require some reagents, could have other effects on the coins' surfaces, and makes absolutely zero logical sense from a purely financial standpoint.

 

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JKK, thanks so much, after reading that detailed procedure, looks like mine are just going back in a book and I'll purchase the nice ones I want. I had a 1909 vdb which I scrubbed, major mistake, better off accepting the coin for what it is.

 

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56 minutes ago, Edward Plato said:

JKK, thanks so much, after reading that detailed procedure, looks like mine are just going back in a book and I'll purchase the nice ones I want. I had a 1909 vdb which I scrubbed, major mistake, better off accepting the coin for what it is.

 

By far the sound decision. Good hunting.

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If you are not going to sell them, Tarn X may pretty them up.  I've only tried it once on a nickel that had old degraded blue plastic stuck to it (not sure how many decades it had been under that plastic).  Worked pretty well though.

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The green coloring is called verdigris. It can be removed by applying olive oil to a copper/bronze coin/medal. The olive oil removes the dirt and grime on the coin/medal and also dissolves the verdigris. You will also find that because of the organic removal, the coin can be submitted for TPG grading and not come back details improperly cleaned, so long as you don't overdue it. 

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Hello all and thanks to everybody who relied. Sorry for not replying for awhile as I just cannot seem to find enough time!!!   I just can't decide what I want to do so I think for now I am just going to let them be.  I am going to separate the ones I thought about cleaning up from the "nice" ones, put the "nice" ones in flips and go from there.  Thanks again to all and a belated Happy New Year and be safe and smart out there!

Edited by Mike from Mercer
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