Introduction: How to Clean a Penny With Hot Sauce

Picture of How to Clean a Penny With Hot Sauce

I love sauce (some people call me the "Saws Baws") but for some reason my mouth can not handle the heat of hot sauce. Something happens when hot sauce hits my tastebuds that sends my mouth into a frenzy, gives me a cold sweat, and makes me want to rage out like The Hulk. That is why I don't eat it. I do however seem to end up with drawerfuls of the Fire variety from Taco Bell though and when I found out that I could clean pennies with it I was pretty psyched that I could share in what seems to be everyone's love of hot sauce (though in a slightly different manner). 

Cleaning pennies with hot sauce is a pretty cool thing because it's interesting to think that this food condiment has the power to strip away the gunky nastiness that resides on this low denomination coin. It's also a cool thing because it's free! Taco Bell gives away those Fire sauce packets by the fistful and other varieties are pretty easy to come by at other fast food establishments too. 

Check out this video of me making Penny Lasagna-Chili:

Oh yeah, also don't forget to stop by the last step for a special digital patch opportunity!

Step 1:

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Stuff you need:
-dirty pennies
-hot sauce
-a plate or bowl with a flat bottom
-water for rinsing
-paper towels for drying (optional)
-gloves (optional)
-toothbrush that you won't want to use in your mouth later (optional)

Why the gloves?
I recommend using gloves if you're going to be really getting in there and cleaning the coins by rubbing them or by using a toothbrush. The first time I cleaned pennies with hot sauce I had my hands in the hot sauce for a long time and they started to burn. I guess it resulted in a chemical burn from the capsaicin and the beds of my fingernails burned so bad for hours. I finally found relief by dipping my fingers in a tub of sour cream that was about to expire but just wear some gloves and you avoid all that. 

Step 2:

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Tear open a packet of hot sauce and squirt out the contents into the bowl. Spread the sauce around so that it covers the bottom of the bowl. 

Step 3:

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Add the pennies. Make sure the pennies don't overlap so that each one is in direct contact with the hot sauce. 

Step 4:

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Top off the pennies with a second packet of hot sauce. Make sure they are all covered so the hot sauce can work its magic.

Step 5:

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You can let the pennies sit for the hot sauce for awhile if you want but usually the bulk of the nastiness is removed upon contact. 

Rinse away the hot sauce with some water and claim your cleaned copper beauties. 

Step 6:

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If you want to get a little artistic you can use a toothpick or stencil to add designs. 

Get out those dirty pennies and hot sauce packets because if you make a designer penny of your own and post a picture of it in the comments below then I'll send you a digital PENNY PATCH! (up to 18 patches remain)


dworley3 (author)2015-02-09

The peppers have nothing to do with cleaning copper. It's the vinegar in the hot sauce that cleans it. A bottle of white vinegar would be way cheeper.

DaveM300 (author)dworley32017-12-10

Salt & Vinegar:

Clean Pennies: 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1-3 tsp salt, A few unshiny pennies, Non-metal bowl, Paper towels. Pour vinegar into the bowl & add salt, stir. Put about 5 pennies into the bowl for 10 sec. Take out pennies and rinse in water.

Hydrogen Peroxide will take a bright penny and darken it like an old penny. It will also clean dirt or organic material off coins & it sometimes loosens encrustations.

pamelaisley1123 (author)dworley32016-03-18

Free packets of hot sauce from taco Plus your pennies smell like hot sauce not vinegar, win win.

Bungoy601 (author)2013-06-11

LOL I thought you will dip them in hot sauce then throw them away!

yapoyo (author)2012-09-27

If you can't handle hot sauce, don't try Bhut Jolokia (ghost chile). Even we indians can't handle the spice, since it's the spiciest in the world.

Cherylb1003 (author)2012-02-14

All you need to clean copper is a salty acidic solution. Salt and vinegar work well, as do ketchup, hot sauce, and many many other solutions....almost all guaranteed to devalue a valuable coin.

As a coppersmith, I find the solutions are fast, easy, and get into nooks and crannies beautifully. While bright and clean, it may not be as shiny as you like and left long enough, detail may be lost.

On my shiniest pieces, I use silver polish (not copper polish, it is abrasive and will cause scratches). Voila! a piece that looks like rose gold .... until a few days later when the normal copper patina begins to form.

A note to add, rose gold (the real stuff) does tarnish (albeit slowly) and does so more quickly that most other gold types (remember - 24K is too soft to be particularly useful, so other metals are generally added to make gold sturdy - that "other" usually tarnishes somewhat). Why? Because the copper to achieve the rose color tarnishes somewhat faster than other metals added during manufacture.

Yes, cleaning coins yourself brings a very high risk of lowering their value. I wouldn't suggest using hot sauce on a valuable coin but using it on a coin that has sentimental value or to experiment is a cool idea. I like those machines that stretch out the pennies and roll a design onto them but I prefer to use copper pennies which are usually pretty dirty since they've been around 30+ years so hot sauce is a quick and easy way to clean them up.

MDxxx (author)2012-01-27

In the UK we can use Daddies or HP as well.

sherrycayheyhey (author)MDxxx2012-01-30

HP= half penny?

What are Daddies? I searched for them but couldn't figure it out.

You should try decorating or cleaning them with hot sauce and share the pictures :)

fluffylicious (author)2012-01-28

Hi! Just wanted to show my penny cleaned with hot sauce!

kelseymh (author)2012-01-27

Nice project! I'm a bit disappointed you didn't find a way to use LEGO bricks in the cleaning procedure ;->

sherrycayheyhey (author)kelseymh2012-01-27

Psh! I would never subject my preciouses (Gollum) to the horrors of hot sauce.

I do have some Lego projects that I'm pretty excited about and are ready to be posted but I'm holding out for a Lego Weekly Challenge or closer to the end of the Toy Contest so be sure to keep a lookout for those :)

kelseymh (author)sherrycayheyhey2012-01-27

Aren't LEGO bricks polycarbonate? They ought to be relatively impervious to alkali corrosives (not as impervious as PTFE, but still...).

Have you tried pinging any of the Staff contest-builders (Scoochmaroo or Mikeasaurus) about that idea?

sherrycayheyhey (author)kelseymh2012-01-27

Most LEGO bricks are made of ABS plastic, not sure if that's the same thing. I have heard that the color will fade if the bricks come in contact with hot water. I haven't tested this and find it surprising, maybe they used Megabloks lol.

Mikeasaurus said he would host one soon when I asked about two Knex challenges being so close together so I'm hoping soon means before the end of the Toy Challenge so I can double my chances to win a prize haha.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2012-01-27

Awesome! For selective cleaning, did you just put drops of hot sauce on the pennys?

Thanks :)
Yeah, I just used a toothpick to apply the hot sauce to the areas I wanted cleaned. Patience and a steady hand are key because as soon as the hot sauce touches the penny it removes the grime. To get the hot sauce off I rinsed the penny under a facet so that it would blast away the excess sauce without touch the rest of the coin.

monsterlego (author)2012-01-27

Weird, there sure is a lot of ways to clean penny's.

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