Easy Electroplating


Introduction: Easy Electroplating

This is a fun and easy way to electroplate.

Step 1: Gathering Materials

You will need...

1. A beaker or a glass jar
2. 1 9v battery
3. Some salt
4. 2 alligator clips
5. 2 pre 1982 pennies
6. Vinegar
7. A paper clip

Step 2: Vinegar and Salt

Start by pouring vinegar into a beaker about 2/3 of the way. Next begin pouring in salt (salt helps the electricity flow)

Step 3: Pennies

Attach pennies to alligator clip and attach alligator clip to positive terminal on your battery

Step 4: Paper Clip

Attach paperclip to negative end of battery

Step 5: Final Step

Drop into salt vinegar solution and check on it every minute or so. The solution will bubble forming hydrogen gas. This is normal

Step 6: Final Result

A copper coated paper clip ( the one on the right)

Step 7:

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    10 Discussions

    To avoid the plating void where the alligator clip grips the clip, I'd use a second clip and form it into a hook. Hang the "target" paperclip from the "hook" clip, which is attached to the alligator clip. Dangle the "target" paper clip in the solution completely submerged. The "hook" clip would get a bit of copper coating on the part that's in the solution, of course, but that's just incidental. Don't let the "target" touch the bottom of the container or break contact with the "hook" clip. If your target has different surfaces you need to occasionally turn the target so that those different surfaces are "facing" the sacrificial copper or you'll get an uneven result.

    wow .. so simple but i doubt if this may oxidize the electrolyte making impurities within painting?

    That's pretty cool. I used to do this years ago. Makes me want to try it again.

    I used to use copper sulfate and water for the plating solution and a piece of copper water pipe for the anode. that solution made the plating go quicker.

    it tarnishes quickly but a quick shot of Krylon clear keeps it nice for a while

    The copper from the coin gets dissolved in to the salt solution and forms on the paper clip

    What is the purpose of the coin?

    I was wondering if you've tried this with other metals? I think it wouldn't be too difficult to find some broken jewelry with gold plating that could be used as a sacrificial anode.

    How would it effect the process to use a higher voltage & amp dc power adapter - as in a 19vdc power brick from a laptop..?seems it would make the process faster/stronger...anyone know what point it would be too powerful to be useful & start burning the materials?

    1 reply

    I think the higher voltage & amp might result in a difference in the quality of the metallic coating. There is a process called electroforming that I think was first used in industry to form molds. It was like electroplating, in fact, I believe at first it utilizes electroplating techniques to lay down a fine layer, duplicating the surface of the item. Then a heavier layer is laid down, the electroforming, to make the mould stronger. I think, I am not certain, but I think with the higher voltage, etc. You'd be laying down the layer faster but not so fine a layer. I think in electroforming the crystals grown are larger and so the detail can be lost. Electroforming has been used in jewelry making where it is possible to literally grow metal around a stone. I have a pendant I purchased some years ago where a mounting was grown around a nice red tigereye tumbled stone. The mounting has a sponge, organic look. I think one of the industrial uses of electroforming was in creating moulds from which masters for records were made. I do not know if this process is still being used..

    It would probably yield to an uneven coat and blobs of copper. It may also generate high amounts of hydrogen gas which is highly explosive.