How to clean a penny?

There are many ways you can get those old, tarnish, and dull looking pennies to shine again.

People want to clean their pennies for many reasons.  May be they feel embarrassed to spend those old pennies that have been piled up for years in the basement; for elongation making souvenir; they need a clean copper penny to do something with the speaker or they simply just want to have them clean. 

It’s recommended that you DON NOT clean a collectible penny!  If you have old pennies that you treasure, cleaning them will actually decrease their value.  You should check with some knowledgeable source before you decide whether to clean them.

There are a few things you need to know about pennies.  Pennies minted prior to 1982 are 95% copper and 5% zinc.  Pennies minted since 1982 to date are 99.2% zinc with 0.8% copper, coated with pure copper.  Zinc does not polish very well and tarnish to a dark gray when done and should be forewarned here.

Most popular way to clean a penny is to mix some vinegar or lemon juice and a bit of salt, then drop in your penny and wait a few minutes, depending on the condition of your penny, it may take longer if it's really dirty. Take it out, rinse and dry. Rub with some baking soda paste to bring back the shine.  You can use ketchup, (which is vinegar, salt and tomato) with this method.  Just be careful with the pennies that are more zinc than copper, because the chemistry of this solution is aggressive on zinc and may eat away at it.

Coke, Pepsi or the like will do the job too.  In a small container, soak the pennies with Coke; you should see some progress in a short time (or a bit longer if your pennies are very tarnish).  Just don’t forget to take them out for this soft drink can eat away the metal as well. Some one said if Coke could do this to metal, imagine what would it do to the stomach and your teeth.          

Hot Sauce and Ketchup Will Do

If you have some stale or expired hot sauce or taco sauce, put it to work, use it to clean you pennies.  Dip the pennies in the sauce and wait a few minutes, take them out and start rubbing until you see the shine. Using an old toothbrush to scrub the hard to rub part.

If you have lots of time and energy to kill, you can use a pencil eraser to clean your pennies. 

My favorite:  rub on just a very small amount of LOC Plus Metal Cleaner on the penny, wait a few seconds (again, depending on the penny’s condition), then simply rub it a few times to reveal the shine, clean if off with old rag or paper towel, and viola, almost like new penny!  You can use this metal cleaner to clean your solid brass or copper, stainless steel pots and pans or your doorknobs and handles, to bring back the beautiful shine that you have not seen for years. It’s kosher certified and non-caustic, so it’s mild on the hands.  This stuff works great on the mostly zinc pennies too.

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