Here we go! Another edition of ‘me beating up some silver rounds’. If you haven’t read them yet, I’d recommend reading:
Part 1.) How to Artificially Tone Silver Coins
Part 2.) Toning a Silver Round with Liver of Sulfur Gel
To preface, in general it is a bad idea to remove toning or clean your coins in any way. I have another post “Cleaning Coins is Actually Bad For Them” which goes into more detail, but the short of it is that any touching, rubbing, or chemical process done to a coin can hurt the value.
Touching a coin can cause tiny scratches on the surface. Even something as gentle as baking soda or cotton can cause small marks and discolorations.
I am using a silver round for this experiment because I do not want to damage the numismatic value of any of my coins. This is the same silver buffalo round I used in “Toning a Silver Round with Liver of Sulfur Gel“, so I have already put this round through the wringer and am not too concerned with damaging it any further.
Here are the ingredients I used:
- Baking Soda
- Aluminum Foil
- Boiling Water
- A Pyrex Glass Bowl (You could also use plastic.)
- Salt (Any will do, some recommend Sea Salt. I used Morton’s Kosher Salt)
This silver round had been toned by me with Liver of Sulfur Gel. I decided this was the best round to show the removal process on, since the toning was so even.
Before starting, you should dip the round or coin in acetone to remove any glue, wax, or oils. This will help the toning leave more evenly.
Cover bottom of a glass or plastic bowl with aluminum foil. I used a single layer of aluminum foil. Put your coin on the aluminum foil, and sprinkle baking soda on top.
I used about 3 large tablespoons of baking soda. The salt will be added after the boiling water.
Add the boiling water. It will fizz and bubble a lot, so be ready for that. I would use a larger bowl.
Sprinkle some salt into the bowl. I don’t know what this does scientifically, but the water fizzled again when the salt hit it, so it did something.
I’m not sure if this was just my imagination, but I could smell sulfur wafting up from the bowl. Maybe the baking soda and aluminum foil was releasing sulfur left in the coin? (Any chemists reading this, please explain in the comments!)
After a minute, I gently flipped the coin. I’m not sure if this made any difference as the toning was already disappearing on both sides. (Be careful flipping it over, the aluminum foil can scratch the coin’s surface.)
I used a spoon to gently stir the water so more of the baking soda could dissolve. I was very careful not to touch the round as to prevent damage.
After 2 minutes, the mixture seemed to have done all it could. So I removed the coin to dry. The recommended process for drying is to either let the coin air dry or use a hair dryer on low heat.
Since at this point I had already damaged the surface of this coin in my other experiments, I put the coin on a paper towel and patted it dry.
Here are the after images:
Welp… it removed a lot of the toning, but the coin doesn’t look like new. In fact, I think it looks even worse than when we started.
Let’s see what happens if we try it again!
Take 2: What I did differently
This time, I crumpled the aluminum foil before putting it into the bowl. My hope was that a greater surface area of aluminum foil would increase the chemical reaction.
Besides crumpling the aluminum foil more, everything else was the same. I placed the coin in the bowl and poured hot water over it. I added some salt and stirred gently, flipping it after a minute or two.
Crumpling the aluminum foil left air pockets inside, so I pushed the aluminum foil down with a spoon to keep it submerged.
And here it is after the second go:
Not a huge difference, so there are probably diminishing returns to this method. Even if I performed this trick 100 times I doubt I could get the coin looking like a new silver round.
Honestly, I liked the coin better with the even toning, so I will probably use my leftover Liver of Sulfur Gel to re-tone this coin.
That being said, it did work. If you are looking to remove toning from a coin, this is an effective method. Just don’t expect your coin to look fresh from the mint!
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