Do you have any old grungy pennies around the house? I’ll bet you do. Check under the couch cushions. Oh. Is it just my couch that collects money? Try the cup holders in the car. Still just me? We’ve been studying the first 12 elements on the periodic table, and this little experiment is an easy lesson with some pretty cool chemistry going on. Bonus, it’ll make your gross pennies look brand-spankin’ new. Like magic. Disclaimer: Vinegar is (apparently) the absolute worst smell on the planet. According to my kids, it may kill you with prolonged exposure. You may want to add “noseplug” to your list of materials.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Cup or Bowl
1) Take the vinegar and pour into bowl or cup until 1/2 full (or enough to cover a couple inches of the bottom). Be sure to plug your nose.
2) Measure out 1 teaspoon of salt. Pour salt into bowl or cup. Keep that nose plugged.
3) Write down a quick description of how the penny looks before the experiment. Drop the dirty, tarnished, oxidized penny into the bowl. You can unplug your nose for this step.
4) Swirl the bowl or cup to mix for 30 seconds, then let the penny sit in the chemical reaction for 1 minute. Better plug your nose again. Just to be safe.
6) Remove the penny and dry with a paper towel or napkin. Observe what happened. Write down a new description of how the penny looks after the chemical reaction.
We kept one of the dirty pennies for comparison – so we could see what we started with at the end. Pretty potent cleaner huh? Too bad it doesn’t work quite the same on my toilet.
Print Scientific Method Worksheet to jot down your observations. Click below for full printable materials/procedure as well as a description of the chemical reaction that’s going on to shine up those pennies. And a BONUS experiment to turn your pennies blue/green! What?! Print Magic Penny Cleaner Experiment