Turn brass pennies into gold.

By Paul Michael on 17 February 2007 (Updated 10 June 2007) 14 comments

gold coins

I was never very good at chemistry at school. Or physics. I'm a writing kind of guy. So I'm always in awe when I see the real power of science at work, before my very eyes. And seeing alchemy work (or look like it works anyway) is a real bonus. Here, a talented chap called Kent shows you how to turn ordinary brass pennies into silver, and then, GOLD.



Make Gold Pennies - video powered by Metacafe

I have no clue of the science involved here. I'm sure it just turns nice little brass pennies into nice, gold colored brass pennies. And as yet, they aren't quite legal tender anywhere. So don't go changing all your dollar bills into pennies, dumping them in chemicals and then hauling them off to the bank, having first given your boss the finger. I suspect all these are good for is something nice to display somewhere, or a fun way to impress kids at parties. Anyway, be careful with your vats of chemicals, and have fun.

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Guest's picture
Guest

I had a teacher in high school chemistry class that did this once a year for his students. We would bring in a penny and he would dip it into some Zinc liquid and it would turn silver. Then he would hold it over a burner and it would turn gold - it was really cool. I think I still have mine somewhere. He told us that eventually it will wear off and will go back to silver unless its coated. I did mine with clear nail polish and its lasted years!

Paul Michael's picture

In Chemitry class in England we did really dull stuff most of the time. Although I doremember taking a q-tip to the inside of my mouth and putting it in a petri dish. The next day it looked like an alien. Quite scary. Although the bacteria was all harmless.

Guest's picture
noah

wow thats so tight

Guest's picture
Guest

first of all, pennies are copper not brass. get your facts right.
copper is then turned to zinc and then to brass DUH

Guest's picture
Guest

Pennies are 97.%% Zinc with a 2.5% coating of copper. In the gold penny lab a thin layer of zinc gets deposited on top of the thin layer of copper and you get a "silver" penny (thin coat of shiny zinc). Heating the penny will cause the layer of zinc to mix with the layer of copper below it. This creates an alloy called brass. The brass alloy is your gold pennny. Copper is not turned to zinc and zinc is not turned to brass.

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Guest

Just wanted to comment that pennies before 1982 are pure copper.

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Amanda

We did this in class but I missed and now I still have to do a lab on it. Thanks for making that video. It helped me out a lot.

Guest's picture
fun

that was so cool

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Guest

Actually pre-1982 and some 1982 pennies are 95% or so copper and the rest zinc. After the the recipe was reversed.

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Soorena

Hi, does anyone know how to do the reverse? Turn brass into Silver looking color? I don't need the copper part.

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Guest

In this lab you typically use pre-1982, because they contain more copper (95% CU to 5% ZN).

To turn it back from brass to a zinc coating anything with acetane in it will remove that layer. Try make up removers.

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Guest

by the way that isnt really gold and silver if u wiegh it u can see its fake

 

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Guest

The copper is coated in zinc and then heated over a bunsen burner for the copper and zinc to combine and turn into brass.

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Guest

Pennies minted before 1982 are mostly copper with a few dabs of zinc. But this was rather expensive so after 1982, pennies were now minted with the majority of zince with an outside coating shell of Copper.