Introduction: Make a Ring by Melting Pennies.

!!!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.

Step 1: Smelt

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

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.


DanielC795 made it! (author)2017-07-21

just so you guys now I'm pretty sure this is illegal. but I don't care. not making tho.

turtlewax made it! (author)2017-07-10

Just smelt the zinc into rods and sell it as sacrificial rods to protect water heaters and home plumbing....

JohnathanT7 made it! (author)2017-07-09

Please dot do this, zinc is toxic, the phumes, temps needed to melt it. Constant contact with your skin can poision you. Not to menchen that it tarnishes in a day or two.

ZeRandomMan made it! (author)ZeRandomMan2017-07-10

I totally agree. Don't stay too close close to the zinc because if something happens, you got to be safe. Also, do it outside on concrete.

brettchallenger made it! (author)2017-07-10

Don't try this with UK "copper" coins, they are made of steel.

valveman made it! (author)2012-10-04

I can see other possibilities for melting pennies. Great Instructable!

demonspawnedangel made it! (author)demonspawnedangel2012-10-04

1. Get 1982 or before pennies because they are pure copper.
2. One pennies weight in copper is worth $0.025
3. Smelt Into Ingots
4. Sell for 2.5x the worth of pennies
5. Go to bank with money and get rolls of pennies
6. Repeat


7. Infinite Money?

yrralguthrie made it! (author)yrralguthrie2017-07-09

I had an out of work friend try that with quarters, half dollars and big dollar coins. Yes, infinite money, but only about 25 cents an hour profit. It takes a while to sort through $1000 dollars of coins to get maybe $1 worth of silver. Much less profit with pennies.

AnastaciaR made it! (author)AnastaciaR2017-01-26

Cool! I'll have to remember that. I've found more than 2 dollars in quarters in U.S.A. so far and I've only been here for around a week. Pennies, though are the easily the easiest coin to find on the sidewalk.

AnastaciaR made it! (author)AnastaciaR2017-01-26

I found 1981 and a 1970!

SaMaster made it! (author)SaMaster2016-12-20

Provided you have infinite pre 1982 pennies to supply the same supply of copper as the first batch, which you don't.

weaponsmaster18 made it! (author)weaponsmaster182016-10-01

up until they run out of pre 1982 pennies and no guarantee that ull get a role of pre 82 pennies otherwise a good idea

rmoody3 made it! (author)rmoody32016-04-28

Interesting concept, but it would cost more than your profits to melt them.

mgalyean made it! (author)mgalyean2012-10-04

Sure, if your source of smelting fuel (propane, natural gas, etc) is free. I'm not sure, but I'm guesstimating that unless you are doing huge volume in a very large 24x7, always hot, efficient furnace, that is constantly fed, that your fuel costs would eat up your profit. 24x7 because heating a cold furnace is a huge amount of the cost of doing anything involving high temps. So you want to feed it 24x7. Interesting concept though.

BambiB made it! (author)BambiB2016-04-04

Solar oven

demonspawnedangel made it! (author)demonspawnedangel2012-10-05

If you use the HHO method of fuel its not really a problem. A one time investment into a high rate electrolysis machine, batteries and a solar/wind/radiant source of power.
Also every time you do this you gain more material. if you have an ounce of copper and sell that for 2.5 ounces of pennies then smelt that and turn it in into 6.25 ounces of pennies. exponentially you gain for really not cost in the long run, the only contributing factor is time to sort through pennies to get all 1982 or before.

Ps. that first comment i did that started this all was 100% logic, 50% meant as a joke XD

Dr Qui made it! (author)Dr Qui2012-10-13

you forgot to factor in the price of gas and transport to and from the bank and scrap metal yard.

seishin made it! (author)seishin2012-10-08

Technically from 1864 on they were 95% copper, the rest being some combination of zinc and tin -- making them bronze or brass, depending on the year... And of course in 1943 they spent a year making cents from zinc-coated steel. Doesn't change your point that the metal value of the brass/bronze cents is around 2.5¢...

Tom Hargrave made it! (author)Tom Hargrave2012-10-05

Did you measure how much you make an hour doing this, including the trip to the bank and the trip to the recycling center?

author made it! (author)jj.inc2012-10-04

what about time, heating costs, tools.

astrong0 made it! (author)astrong02012-10-11


yrralguthrie made it! (author)2017-07-09

It would be a lot safer to use either discarded copper pipe or even buy a few feet of copper pipe. Or buy copper el fittings. They are cheap. Less that 50 cents in my area. 10 feet of 1/2" copper pipe is about $20. And no zinc oxide fumes.

Don't use copper fittings that have been used as they probably were soldered together with lead solder. And the fumes from melting lead are worse than the zinc oxide.

trapshooter4god made it! (author)2017-07-09

This looks awesome I might try to make it

SoSam70 made it! (author)2017-07-02

Have you tried coloring them? If so, how?

Mb313 made it! (author)2017-01-20

That is really cool!

JasonV85 made it! (author)2016-12-09

A zinc ring? Why not wood or plastic? Or better yet, just draw a ring on your finger with a marker! How about lead or cadmium, their fumes are very bad too. Maybe we could fashion one out of sodium or potassium, that'd be a cool show! Why not go radioactive, you can find Amercium 241 in most smoke detectors, bet that'd be sweet. Seriously, zinc fumes are no joke! I'm a welder, I have lots of experience with zinc. It's nasty and will kill you if you get too much.

offseid made it! (author)2016-11-03

Great post. Fun thread below.

Kathyrose made it! (author)2016-10-13

wow! That is a really cool idea! Beautiful ring too! That would be a cool idea for wedding bands. Use pennies from that year, or the year they met. A baby ring! From year of birth. I know that you can't see the year but you would know. Romantic!??!!!

CybrgnX made it! (author)2016-09-08

There is another technique for making small rings. Drill hole into coin, put on tapered metal rod..some files work, and then tap the coin edge with a spoon repeatedly. You will see the coin start to flatten and widen. There is a YouTube on this as well.

Tvpc58 made it! (author)2016-06-04

Besides the possibility that the Secret Service will come knocking at your door, lol, this is a fun idea. The ammo reloading hobby has melting furnaces and other casting tools that can be used for this pursuit. See,,, The warning about the hazards of the zinc fumes is valid, it is called Welder's Fever. These rings could be used for slides on Western style "Apache" ties.

derickson8 made it! (author)2016-04-30

Holly crud had to scroll down for a min to see the related instructables at the bottom is it right or wrong to fill someone's instructable that was done nicely by the way with unrelated comments ??

txcoder made it! (author)2016-04-05

It is not illegal to destroy money in the USA. U.S. currency and coinage is destroyed all the time. For example, when you go to any large tourist attraction you will find machines that press pennies into keepsakes. If this was illegal do you think they would be allowed to exist?

Title 18, Chapter 17 of the U.S. Code prohibits the FRAUDULENT defacing, altering and so on of US coinage. This was a law created because a man plated nickels with gold and passed them off as five dollar gold pieces. It also addresses penalties for people to lighten coinage. People would file off a small amount of gold or silver and then spend the coin. The filings would be sold off later when a sufficient amount was collected.

By rendering the coin unrecognizable, I understand that this could not be taken as fraudulent alteration or mutilation. But you could call the U.S. Treasury Department or Federal Reserve to make sure.

Personally, I don't think I would use zinc or lead to make a ring.

haughpf made it! (author)haughpf2016-04-15

It became illegal to melt down pennies and nickels in 2006. It is also illegal to carry more than $5 of the coins with you outside of the country, and to ship more than $100 of them out of the country. A simple google search will inform you of this.

CharlyeZ made it! (author)2016-04-12

I wrote the comment to the article.
Admin of the web (or someone like he ) removed it.

Moodle2 made it! (author)2016-04-05

I hope you do realize that it is illegal to destroy money in America, because those pennies sure look American.

Emma Stewart made it! (author)Emma Stewart2016-04-05

then use Canadian pennies! Our government cancelled the penny and any that you possess are useless now! :-)

sconner1 made it! (author)2016-04-04

I cast one like this instead of machining it once. But it will tarnish black if you don't clear coat it.

deswiger made it! (author)2016-04-04

Said many ways, but, "the wisdom of a man is not in what he does while being watched but what he does when he's alone..."

Murder is not only wrong but illegal. (but not if you don't get caught)

Theft is not only wrong, it's illegal. (but not if you don't get caught)

Adultery is just wrong. (but not if you don't get caught)

This (but not if you don't get caught) person is not one I would trust as a friend!

sbergeron2 made it! (author)2016-04-04

1: Glad you put the disclaimer in there. Zinc poisonong is no joke. I've watched a few of my blacksmith friends become very ill and 1 died from forging on galvanized metals.

2: What you are doing is "Melting" and "Casting". "Smelting" is the processing of raw ore into usable metal.

Gadget93 made it! (author)2016-04-04

I had a great idea. It's combining two instructables. This summer, I'll melt many pennies and pour them in to a random ant hill. It will be cool art.

yoyolo made it! (author)2014-10-04

use canadian pennies, if you can find any, to avoid zinc poisoning as they do not have any zinc in them.

koroliov made it! (author)koroliov2015-02-03

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.

allangee made it! (author)allangee2015-02-04

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

Gadget93 made it! (author)Gadget932016-04-04

Oh, that's sad.

Vyger made it! (author)Vyger2015-02-05

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.

fish_dude made it! (author)2013-09-29

could i use pure copper pennies and make a copper ring

shizumadrive made it! (author)shizumadrive2014-01-01

This is what i'd do. Use pre 1982 pennies

MrE made it! (author)MrE2014-01-02

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.

Gadget93 made it! (author)Gadget932016-04-04

But using copper tubing takes all the fun away from melting pennies. Lol.

Steelsmith1 made it! (author)Steelsmith12015-02-05

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.

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