NEVER CLEAN COINS! NEVER CLEAN COINS!
Some collectors are wanting to clean their new hoards of copper cents. Of course I advise against it even if they are currently low-valued cents. Still the internet is full of not so helpful advice that tells them that vinegar is fine. So I got to do an experiment to confirm my suspicions.
- Heinz Distilled White Vinegar of 5% acidity
- Glass candle holder
- Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
- 3 dirty copper coins
- Tap water and cloth for rinsing
|Before left and after right.|
I wanted to get rid of the spot, fingerprints, and crust and the base. Unfortunately it did not work well. Yes the coin did turn bright dull-pink. The spot stayed and the fingerprint is still visible at a tilt. The crust was mostly gone.
2nd Cent - 45 minutes in Vinegar:
This coin was not dirty but had that brown patina that happens over time. Only the highest point remained brown but that is because I put very little vinegar. It was left with a very dull pink finish.
3rd Cent - 5 minutes in Vinegar and Salt:
Started brown and dirty. The fingerprint stayed highlighted, the back stains also remained. The front turned dull pink but the back kept a nice copper color. The salt did not completely dissolve and was in contact with the back, although I am not sure if that mattered. This one looked the best in hand.
If you see a penny, cent, or any other copper coin that is dull pink then someone has cleaned your coin.
Despite the fact that this mild acid should not affect the surface of copper it does. Since the browning of the coin is already damaging when the dirt and air damage is removed you are left with an uneven dull surface. Some baking soda would add luster but will also further damage the coin.
Vinegar and salt is great for chips and steak but horrible on coins. Colas, ketchup, and A1 sauce are also on the list of coin cleaners I think are better left in the fridge.
Feel free to share your experience with any type of coin cleaning.
Do you have a coin cleaning issue? Leave a comment/question and I will do my best to advise you