At-home simple science: shiny pennies

05/26/2014 11:32 PM

05/26/2014 11:47 PM

The experiment is from Bob Hagan, founder of Club Scientific.

You will need to assemble the following:

A few old pennies that are not shiny anymore

1/3 cup of white vinegar

1 teaspoon of salt

A glass or plastic bowl (not metal)

Some paper towels

Here's what to do:

1. Pour vinegar into your bowl and stir in the salt.

2. Then put some pennies into the bowl.

3. Count to 10 slowly.

4. Remove the pennies and rinse in water.

Look how they shine!

How does it work?

Well, vinegar is an acid, and it reacts with the salt to remove what chemists call copper oxide (the stuff that makes your pennies dull).

But there's more you can do!

Add more pennies to your bowl and count slowly to 10 again. When you remove them, don't rinse them off. Just put them on paper towels to dry. Shortly, the pennies will turn blue/green as something called malachite forms on the pennies.

There's even more!

Put a few nuts and bolts in the vinegar and watch them carefully; they may turn copper in color. The vinegar will remove copper from the pennies and if there's enough of it in the vinegar - the copper will become attracted to the metal in the nuts and bolts!


Club Scientific introduces students to the fun of science through hands-on interactive experiments, adventures, and entertainment. They develop curriculum allowing students to experience how science works in the real world -- presenting programs in a nurturing, encouraging environment where students build self-esteem while learning. - See more at: www.southcharlotte.clubscientific.com.

Entertainment Videos

Join the Discussion

Charlotte Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service