Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't

Chapter 5
Heavy Metal » Pretty Penny

Pretty Penny

Turn your cheapest coins inside out using some hardware-store chemistry. Looking for something more interesting to do with that jar of pennies than just cash it in? One word: acid.

In most years before 1982, American pennies were 95 percent copper. Then the price of copper went up until you could get $100 worth of pennies at the bank, melt them down, and sell the metal for more than $100. So the government started using a core of cheap zinc with only a thin plating of copper. The fact that pennies are made of two different metals opens up the interesting possibility of separating them.

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