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Thread: Seperating zinc and copper from pennies?

  1. #1 Seperating zinc and copper from pennies? 
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    Hi there I hope this is the appropriate section for this question. I'm trying to figure out how to seperate zinc and copper from pennies. Obviously I know about the whole post/pre 1980s penny material. I prefer not to use chemicals but I am not opposed to using either household chemicals or soda I can find at the grocery. Supposedly I can scratch zinc and copper off but I couldn't find any information on how to do so. Please help.


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    Cooking Something Good MacGyver1968's Avatar
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    Technically, destroying currency is against the law. Why are you trying to do this? There are a lot easier ways to get copper or zinc.


    Fixin' shit that ain't broke.
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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver1968 View Post
    Technically, destroying currency is against the law.
    I used to think that, too, until I visited one of the Smithsonians and they had a machine that would convert a penny into a medallion of some sort. I asked one of the clerks in the museum shop about their defacing of currency, and she patiently explained to me that the law prohibited defacing or altering of currency if there is an intent to defraud. Other than that, citizens are free to do whatever they wish with currency, including burning it, turning it into works of art, etc.

    ETA: After gonzalez56's reply made me do some research, it seems that melting currency became illegal in 2006. So you can't do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by LedZeppelin
    I'm trying to figure out how to seperate zinc and copper from pennies. Obviously I know about the whole post/pre 1980s penny material. I prefer not to use chemicals but I am not opposed to using either household chemicals or soda I can find at the grocery. Supposedly I can scratch zinc and copper off but I couldn't find any information on how to do so.
    If you restrict yourself to modern pennies, your job will be much simpler, since the copper is less than a dozen micrometers thick. It'll etch off quickly and easily. Craft stores sell ferric chloride for just this purpose.

    You could also use an electrolytic etch, if you have an aversion to ferric chloride. Google for "vinegar and salt copper etch" or something like that. You can't entirely avoid the creation of something toxic, no matter what you do.
    Last edited by tk421; November 17th, 2012 at 10:39 AM.
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    I would think it would be better to keep your copper pennies (some 1982 pennies and all pennies pre-1982). It is also illegal to melt nickels and pennies (even pre-1982 pennies).

    If you look at gold and silver coins, which are now legal to melt, most people don't because they are just as valuable, and even more so in many cases, than the gold and silver they contain. Again though, the beautiful thing about these coins is that they will always hold their metal value if they are melted or not, and that goes for nickels and pennies as well.
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