How to Electroplate With Vinegar & Salt

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If you're looking for a fun science project you can do at home, try electroplating pennies in a vinegar and salt solution. Electroplating deposits a metallic coating of positively charged metal ions onto metal objects that have a negative charge. This easy experiment is a great way to demonstrate how positive and negative charges are attracted to one another.

Things You'll Need

  • Pyrex dish
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Metric measuring cup
  • Zinc anode
  • Kitchen scale
  • Epsom salt
  • Sugar
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Gloves
  • Flashlight battery
  • Copper wire
  • Electrical tape
  • Penny
  • Fill a large Pyrex dish with 1/2 l of distilled white vinegar.

  • Place a zinc anode into the vinegar and allow it to sit for a few hours. This will give the zinc a chance to dissolve.

  • Measure 50 g of epsom salt on a kitchen scale and add to the vinegar and zinc solution. The salt will help the liquid better conduct electricity.

  • Add 60 g of sugar to the mixture.

  • Clean a penny with a toothbrush and toothpaste and rinse well. Wear gloves when handling the clean penny to avoid soiling the penny with oils from your skin.

  • Tape one end of a length of copper wire to the positive side of a flashlight battery and tape the other end to the zinc anode. Use electrical tape to secure the wire to the battery and anode.

  • Attach another length of copper wire to the battery. Secure the other end of the wire to a shiny penny.

  • Submerge the zinc anode and the penny in the vinegar and salt solution; don't allow them to touch one another.

  • Soak the penny until it begins to form a silvery coating. At this point, you've successfully electroplated your penny.

Tips & Warnings

  • Look for zinc anodes at boating supply stores.

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References

  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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