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Last week we were at UCSB and we did an experiment. We put a penny in a zinc solution and it turned silver. How do you make this zinc solution?
Question Date: 2003-02-19
Answer 1:

I'm guessing that the process you saw was a "wet-chemical plating" technique. The solution is probably a mixture of Zn in a sodium hydroxide solution. When the penny is added to this solution, the Zn will deposit on the copper and make it appear silver (I think the solution needs to be heated for this to happen, but I can't remember for sure). As I recall,there is additional trick with this experiment where if you heat that "silver" penny, the Zn and Cu can form an alloy (brass) with a "golden"color.

Answer 2:

Sorry but I couldn't come up with a good answer for you. I found something that says the solution should be 3M of NaOH added to powdered zinc. The solution should also be kept near boiling. But I don't know much else.

I don't know if I'd suggest you try this for yourself as I believe you should do the experiment under a fume hood. If you do it, make sure you are in a spot with a lot of fresh air.

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