Picture of Smelt Your Own Ring
!!!Caution!!! Melting pennies will release Zinc Oxide fumes which cause flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, nausea, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pains, shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. Use a well ventilated area with power assisted ventilation to avoid breathing these fumes.

That being said, this is ring made from pennies. You can smelt the copper coating off leaving you with zinc. Pennies minted after 1983 are all made like this.

You don’t have to have a lathe to do this. You could always hammer the ingot flat and follow the nickel ring instructions. A surprising thing is how lite it is. My wedding ring is the same size weighing 8 grams. This ring weighs in at 3.

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Step 1: Smelt

Picture of Smelt
Snapshot 1 (9-30-2012 5-49 PM).png
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smelt 1 (sm lt). v. smelt·ed, smelt·ing, smelts. To melt or fuse (ores) in order to separate the metallic constituents.

I placed 10 pennies on a spoon and heated them with a propane torch. The spoon was held with locking pliers, which was held by a wooded clamp. Once the zinc liquefied I removed the copper with a metal probe (I used a light tester I had near by).

I then poured it into a section of ½” pipe and let it cool off.

Step 2: Cut a ring blank

Picture of Cut a ring blank
Here I machined the ends off the blank then drilled a hole through it. I chucked the same drill bit into the lathe. Next I wedged the blank on by placing a plastic bag over the bit. Finally the outside was machined.

Step 3: Size the ring

To expand the blank I hammered it over a pry bar. I started out with a small bar then moved up sizes as the ring expanded. To get to my ring size I eventually had to hammer over a ½ socket bit.

Of course to get your size simply stop hammering once it fits.

Step 4: Polish

I evened out the ring with a file. I then spun it on a ½” socket bit and sanded it with 1000 grit then 200 grit sandpaper.

Lastly I buffed it on a buffing wheel.

Thanks for reading.
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BenJ523 days ago
maxpcuser1 year ago
Any time you work with zinc in a heated form drink a couple glasses of whole milk you will be fine still try and avoid the fumes.. it is an old welding trick i learned a long time ago
that isnt a true remedy its just old wives tale that won't work

Even if it is an old wives' tale it will still work, there is actual science behind it. I suggest reading "High dietary calcium intakes reduce zinc absorption and balance in humans." by R J Wood and J J Zheng. It's a research paper published in 1997 by The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, readily available online.

The calcium in milk is not even able to be absorbed very well by the body because of pasteurization. The milk only says high in calcium, it doesn't say that it is in a form that you can actually use. Raw milk would work better, but natural thngs like veggies and fruits will give you even more calcium. But you are very correct on calcium in the system blocking zinc from being absorbed.

It has worked for me for years.... Im not saying ignore the use of PPE just that it helps.

bozoty1 month ago
@Mrballeng, this coming weekend my father and I are going tovbe making miniature swords from nails. I had the idea of melting pennies (because we have plenty of them) and pouring them over the swords to give them a nice shiny finish. I was under the impression that pennies were made from copper, obviously I was wrong, but the zinc has a nice Shine to it too. Now I've seen the comments on the dangers of zinc fumes and whatnots, so it does worry me. Should I be worried at all?
Corinbw bozoty1 month ago

pennies before 1982 are made of copper so you could melt those down and get copper

Just do it outside, and don't hover over it, enjoying the aroma. I've been playing with "toxic" metals for decades, and have yet to become a mad hatter

Alright, sounds like a Plan thanks :-)
Lol. good point. we could just turn a fan on too to circulate the air as well.
Mrballeng (author)  bozoty1 month ago
Melting Pennies with a torch will may you feel like you have a cold. It lasts for about a day. That is if you don't evacuate the fumes.
Oh, so it's not anything to be excessively worried about then, and there are steps we can take to keep it from happening. Alright. Very helpful thanks a lot :)
altui1 month ago

I'm still wondering why someone would want a ring made of zinc. It's one of the least noble of metals. Why not just add more copper and make bronze?

sickdog741 month ago

Dumb question: Will wearing a zinc ring irritate your skin?

nstrooba1 month ago

Material cost... ¢10

ynneb1 month ago

No, cant say I've ever 'smelt my own ring'. I'm not into yoga.

janetty16 ynneb1 month ago

Really laughed out loud. Funny stuff out of you. Well done.

ynneb janetty161 month ago

Yes I laughed out loud at my own joke too. (Pretty sad hey :) )

fish_dude1 year ago
could i use pure copper pennies and make a copper ring
This is what i'd do. Use pre 1982 pennies
NO! you cannot use pre 1982 pennies! :) j/k But that is because those are pure copper. This instructable is for zinc pennies. It's kind of hard to make a zinc ring from copper. And actually if you read my other comments there is other sources of zinc that are much easier to get.
Yes you can make a copper ring if you want, but really all you have to do to make a copper ring is get some copper tubing and cut it to size and sand it down. Then you don't need to smelt anything.
Steelsmith1 MrE1 month ago

Just as general knowledge: from 1856 on until the zinc penny took over, pennies were made of brass or bronze. Pure copper pennies were made at one time, but pure copper has an affinity for oxygen that tends to make it porous. By adding zinc, zinc and tin, or nickel, the alloy is easier to melt and recycle.

Hmm ywah I was just trying to avoid the problems with zinc fumes. Pipe is good idea though pennies are cheaper to get. And I just like melting things.
yoyolo5 months ago
use canadian pennies, if you can find any, to avoid zinc poisoning as they do not have any zinc in them.
Vyger yoyolo1 month ago

Copper requires much higher temperatures to melt. It would be almost impossible to melt it with nothing more than a propane torch. So while you are correct in that it would be a better material for a ring it would also be a much harder process to make one. In fact you would be better off to use a section of a copper pipe and just hammer it to size and shape and forget about trying to melt it or use coins for the metaal.

koroliov yoyolo1 month ago

Composition of Canadian 1-cent coins (from

1908 - 1941
95.5% copper, 3% tin, 1.5% zinc
1942 - 1977
98% copper, 0.5% tin, 1.5% zinc
1978 - 1996
98% copper, 1.75% tin, 0.25% zinc
1997 - 1999
98.4% zinc, 1.6% copper plating
2000 - present*
94% steel, 1.5% nickel, 4.5% copper plating

*Note: Since 2000, the 1-cent coin can be produced using either the copper-plated steel or copper-plated zinc compositions.

Canada is no longer minting pennies and taking them out of circulation.

altui1 month ago

somebody asked that isnt it illegal to destroy currencies

At least under US law it's not illegal. It is however illegal to alter currency to make it appear as other currency, like altering a 1 dollar bill to look like a 100 dollar bill. That's usually what people confuse and think it's illegal to destroy US currency. It's only illegal if you intend to still use it as currency, in the case of a ring or any other application where you're altering the currency to the point where it's no way you could still use it as currency it's still quite legal. The small amounts of currency that gets destroyed by people each year is very low, and has pretty much zero impact on US economy, inflation, etc, something which is often quoted as a reason to why it's illegal (when it's not).

And there is also the fact that the government itself recycles its old coins. When they become to worn (paper money especially) it is removed from circulation and destroyed and recycled. The older pure silver coins have long been sold by weight to companies that recover the silver in them.

aheibi altui1 month ago

In almost every country it's illegal to destory money for any reason.

People used to "steal" coins metal flakes, but if someone get cought the one can be in prison for 1 to 3 years and a large amount fine.

It's illegal to alter money for fraudulent purposes. People have been melting down silver coins for a long time. It is illegal to melt pennies and nickels down for profit though because the metal in the coins is worth more than the face value and the government doesn't want people to just get free money like that.

Actually, that makes sense.

My great uncle back then made from old silver coins, silver cutlery that cost more than the coins face value.

Ploopy1 month ago

You should enter this in the ring challenge contest!

Ploopy1 month ago


badideasrus1 month ago

you mean 100 grit then 200 right? or 1000 then 2000.... going from 1000 to 200 is like purposely scratching it up after you've made it mirror polished... :P

scumbagant1 month ago
Smelt Your Own Ring,i couldn't bend that far

Very cool looking - as always! To the folks worrying about zinc fumes, they can rest easy: You would only get zinc fumes by *boiling* zinc - not by melting it (419.53 °C, 787.15 °F). That's a real issue with welding, during which the electrode is hot enough to boil zinc (907 °C, 1665 °F). Judicious use of a propane torch should avoid that problem. If folks are really worried though, they can melt zinc on their stoves. There's no more reason to worry about this, than there is to worry about people scalding themselves over freshly-melted ice cubes.

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