Make Gold and Silver Pennies


Introduction: Make Gold and Silver Pennies

Turn pennies from copper to silver then to gold with a few household chemicals.



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    177 Discussions

    I really appreciate this tutorial. I found my old penny book and it contains a very silver looking 1918-S penny. I've had this book since the early 70s...could someone have performed this trick on this penny way back when, and would it last this long in the book? I'm trying to determine if I have an "error at the mint" coin, or just a novelty coin. THANKS!

    1 reply

    In the early 1900s and 1940s pennies were made of silver looking material. During the world wars copper was in high demand so pennies had to be made from something else

    It is not illegal to profit from changing coins, when sold as novelties. it is illegal to profit by passing an altered coin as legal tender though. A trick that used to be common and is quite illegal was to shave a tiny bit off of the outside of many coins, and together that metal could be worth quite a bit. When added to the coins that still appeared to be legal tender, a profit was made.

    Shaving a bit off coins only worked when coins were made of pure silver or gold. And that was a long time ago...

    Quarters were 90% silver up until 1964 and are currently traded for their mineral value to people as "junk silver" because you aren't allowed to melt them down, and it's easier just to exchange the coin for 90% of it's value ( $4 or so on a Washington quarter)

    There are a large number of these still in circulation and tons (literally) of them are being traded back and forth so the risk of coin shaving is still a real thing.

    ok heres my thought on this

    is the gov't going to pay thousands of dollars for judges and every thing else just to put someone behind bars for a penny to me its common sense

    it's also illegel to melt coins unless you are goverment authorirzed such as the mint which the ,mint is allowed to sell it for more than it's worth

    This is a great bit of chemistry. But since pennies are copper plated zinc, how about removing the copper plating to achieve these results?

    "Is it illegal to damage or deface coins?" has been asked a number of times, in different forms...

    Here is the answer from the US Treasury - a reasonably authority on the topic (from

    "Section 331 of Title 18 of the United States code provides criminal penalties for anyone who “fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the Mints of the United States.” This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent."

    So if you're not doing this for fraudulent purposes, this is legal!

    just so eveery one knows if u do this in a glass jelly jar on a skillet make sure ur chemical balance is right or ull melt the glass then have to fumegate ur house of the smell i had a resperator on and i still felt sick after it

    Who cares if it's illegal?  Instructables are about physics, chemistry, etc.  If you want to study law there are other sites for that.  This is cool, and laws (except physical ones, which are the ones I care about) vary from one jurisdiction to the next as well as from one day to the next.  Thanks for the info...I'll take responsibility for what I do with it, just as everyone should be responsible for their actions.

    Awesome 'ible, btw.

    1 reply

    Yeah, it isn't illegal to make them, it is only illegal to put them back in circulation, i.e. Pay for things with them.

    sodium hydroxide is a very strong base. It will first make the part of you body that touched it feel like it is all gooed up in soap. Then, if it is strong enough, it will burn you like an acid. Ah, and it also make holes in your clothes!

    it only works with copper, the combination of copper and zinc make bronze when heated. you can do it with copper pipe too, but that wouldn't be as cool.