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How do I determine if something is lead? Answered

I found a hideously fake £2 coin in my change, I bit into it to double check and it left a noticeable tooth mark (also upon closer inspection the gold bits were rubbing off and it had an overall wedge shape to it).

Because it's nice and soft and now worthless as currency, I thought I'd try that turn a quarter into a ring instructable with it. After only a few taps I saw a noticeable difference and it now occurs to me that it's probably made of lead.

Bottom Line:
- Dulled silvery metal
- Very soft (can leave toothmarks if I bite hard)
- Need a definite way to tell if it's lead before I attempt to make a ring out of it.

I know it's not gonna kill me unless I keep attempting to take bites out of it, but I'd still like to know, thanks.

(also I don't have access to any chemistry equipment for proper tests)


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Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

9 years ago

Lead is really soft, so soft that it would not make a very good ring. I think it would be too flexible in a structure that thin, I mean even if you weren't worried about the toxicity.

Lead is heavy.  So one sort of non-destructive thing you could do with your coin would be to calculate its density, by way of measuring its mass and volume.

Lead resists attack by sulfuric acid, if you find some of that.

Lead has a low melting point (328 C).  You can melt it by heating it in a steel can using a propane torch. 

You can also melt zinc (420 C) this way, but it is a little more difficult.

So you could put both a piece of zinc, and your coin, into a steel can heated by a torch, and then you watch to see which one melts first.

You can find zinc metal as the shell in a carbon-zinc batteries, as explained here:

More on lead: