Vinegar and Cleaning Pennies
What method works best?
My son took out his jar of pennies to loan for a family game. After
playing for a couple of nights, we decided it would be nice to have clean
pennies. He pulled out any Wheat Backs (you do not want to clean Wheat
Backs, or valuable pennies, with vinegar. It can lower the value of
the coins. Do some research, first). We were going to just put
them in Vinegar, but we wanted them to get cleaner faster, so I took a quick
look online. I was surprised to see what different methods people came
up with for cleaning pennies with vinegar.
When I was growing up, my Dad had taught us to put our pennies in vinegar
and let them sit overnight. They always came out nice and shiny! (You
don't want to leave them in longer, as they will turn green. Also, you
want to rinse them off with water when you take them out of the vinegar.).
While looking around the web, I saw a couple of other methods.
1.) Combine vinegar with salt.
2.) Combine vinegar with baking soda (this one said to let it fizzle out,
then add the pennies. Since the reaction with vinegar and baking soda
is an instant one, I questioned if it would not be better to put them before
adding the baking soda. But, I stayed with what was suggested.).
We took pics so we could share our results. Below are the
experiment and the results. I'll leave it up to YOU to do the research
as to WHY one may have worked better than another.
We tried to be as scientific as possible. However, it was difficult
given that the pennies could not be exact in grime.
Side Note: Unfortunately, the pics came out blurry. But, you can
still get the idea of the coloration.
Pennies before experiment
As you can see, the middle one had the most grime. By taking the
pics, we were trying to compensate for the difference of the starting
3 plastic/disposable cups - 3 methods
Cup #1: Vinegar and salt
1/4 cup Vinegar and 1 tsp of salt
Cup #2: Vinegar and Baking Soda
1/4 cup Vinegar and 1/4 cup Baking Soda
(we did combine that in another container, first, as it would have
fizzled over here. Not exactly the best scientific method, but,
hey. We used a plastic food container to stay as closely as
possible to the properties of a plastic cup)
Cup #3: Vinegar - just Vinegar
1/4 cup Vinegar
One penny per cup
We placed the pennies in the order of the cups. The one to the
left went in Cup #1. The grimmiest one went in with the Baking Soda.
On occasion, when adding something to a baking soda and vinegar mix, a
secondary fizz can occur. This did not happen. the penny
drifted to the bottom of the cup.
15 minutes later
The penny that came out the cleanest was the one with Vinegar and Salt.
That was a surprise to me! I didn't think it would make that much of
The least effected seemed to be the Vinegar, only. That surprised
me as I've watached pennies in Vinegar before, and could see the grime
lift off of them within minutes.
But, wait... We went a step further...
Placing all 3 pennies in the vinegar and salt cup for 15 minutes.
Okay, to be honest, the 15
turned into almost 20. But, either way, you can see the remarkable
difference in the other two pennies. Not as much as the one that was
put in Vinegar and Salt only from the start. On the other hand, that
one didn't get much shinnier than it already was. Perhaps it is
because it was as shiny as it was going to get without extensive time - or,
perhaps because they'd been rinsed off with water (and only semi-dried)
before going back into the cup.
Now, I will tell you that when I used to soak my pennies overnight in
vinegar alone, they did come out shiny. But, the salt and vinegar
seems to act, perhaps, work more quickly.
Helpful Tip: if you can spread your pennies out, that would be
best. when they stack against one another, they do not get as clean
(i.e., areas exposed get clean. Areas that are covered by another penny do
not get as clean.). If not, try stirring the pennies from
There are many variables to consider in a REAL scientific experiment.
But, this one seemed to show us that the Baking Soda and Salt method worked
best. Try it out for yourself, and see what results you come you come