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Hi, I am doing a science project for my AP chem class and I was wondering if you could provide me with a good source of information as to how to electroplate copper pennies using metal solutions and an electric current. We need to know exactly what we need to use for the solution and solid metal in the other beaker. My partner and I have already made most of the setup but we need to know what the most efficient solutions are to use and need a procedure. We would also appreciate a list of various solutions that we can use to plate the penny with different metals. We had planned on using silver nitrate to plate it with silver, but we would like to use more than one solution and plate the penny multiple times. I wanted to plate it with chrome, but I was informed by a tutor that the only suitable chrome solution would be chrome cyanide, which would not be very healthy. Mr. Bausback thinks it comes in other solutions but he is not sur;, can you verify this and/or tell us if there is a more healthy chrome solution available?
Question Date: 2003-05-27
Answer 1:

I think you are in for a treat with this science project, but let me warn you, it might take a little research to get what you want. I can't at this moment write a long answer to your question, but I am going to suggest that you read the WHOLE thread of questions and answers at the following website


I am pretty sure you will find enough information to go on with your project. Good luck!

Answer 2:

Since I am not intimately familiar with your set up I will answer the question as best I can.

I found a simple procedure on the Internet that utilizes a 9-volt battery and items you can purchase at your local drug store. With this procedure you can plate pennies with zinc, bismuth, and mercury. But you can also use the solution you already have of silver nitrate in order to plate silver on the penny.

Here is what you do:
1. Fold a paper towel up into a 1"x 1" square. Fold aluminum into a 0.5 inch square with the thickness of a penny.
2. Put four drops of calamine lotion in a small beaker. Add some vinegar to the solution. I am not certain what the optimal amount of vinegar is so you should test it out with 4 drops first and then increase the amount of vinegar you add to the solution in order to get the best result. Stir the mixture and pour it on to one end of the folded paper towel.
3. Make approximately 25 mL of a saturated sodium chloride solution. Pour this solution on the other end of the paper towel. The salt solution should be touching the calamine portion of the paper towel.
4. Place a clean penny on the calamine portion of the paper towel and place the aluminum foil on the paper near the penny. Invert the 9-volt battery and place the large terminal on the penny and the smaller terminal on the aluminum foil. You will probably need to secure the battery with a long piece of electrical tape. Leave the battery on the set up for approximately 5 minutes.
5. Remove the battery from the set up and dry the penny. It should be coated with zinc.
6. You can repeat this procedure using different paper towels, metals, and solutions. There is a list below.

Replace the Calamine and vinegar solution with Pepto Bismol. This will coat the penny with bismuth.
Replace the Calamine and vinegar solution with Mercurochrome stain. This will coat the penny with mercury. Warning: Mercury can cause heavy metal poisoning. Wear gloves at all times while handling the Mercuroshrome stain. Only use a small amount of the stain. Be sure to read the label of the stain before use.

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