In this fun and exciting science experiment we will create a chemical reaction that will clean
dirty old copper pennies and make them shine like new! We will learn about chemistry and
how oxides form on pennies making tarnish. Our chemical reaction uses vinegar and salt
remove the tarnish and oxide.  

Materials Needed for Vinegar and Salt Penny Cleaner:

  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Cup or Bowl
  • Tarnished Penny
  • Teaspoon

Watch the Vinegar and Salt Penny Cleaner Video:

Process for Vinegar and Salt Chemical Reaction to Clean Pennies:

1) Take the vinegar and pour into bowl or cup until 1/2 full.

2) Measure our 1 teaspoon of salt. Pour salt into bowl or cup.

3) Drop the dirty, tarnished, oxidized penny into the bowl. First write down a quick description
of how the penny looks before the experiment.

4) Swirl the bowl or cup to mix for 30 seconds. You can also use a plastic fork to stir the
penny as well.

5) Let the penny sit in the chemical reaction for 5 minutes.

6) Remove the penny and set on a paper towel or napkin. Observe what happened. Write
down a new description of how the penny looks after the chemical reaction.

The Science Behind Vinegar and Salt Chemical Reaction To Clean Pennies:

We first need to understand what pennies are made of - copper! As pennies or copper gets
older it starts to take on a dull or tarnished appearance. When copper makes contact with the
oxygen in the air a reaction occurs and tarnish forms. This reaction creates a substance
called an oxide.

Our experiment used chemistry to create a chemical reaction which removed the oxide from
the penny. The ingredients for our chemical reaction were acid acetic (vinegar) and sodium
chloride (salt) . These two ingredients combined to form a new substance called hydrochloric
acid. The acid removed the dullness and tarnish (oxide) from the penny. Once the oxide was
gone the penny looked shiny and clean again. Now go get some friends and do some
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