Alternative title, “How to Upset Coin Collectors.”
I’m going to get so much hate for this one so I will clarify now.
*I am aware that artificially toning a coin lessens its value. I am aware that lots of artificial toning is done to convince novice buyers to pay more for a coin. This article is a study on the processes of how to create artificial toning on a coin.*
All that being said, if they are your coins and you like pretty colors, go ahead and tone them! A lot of coin collectors are pretentious snobs anyway. (I’m mostly kidding.)
For the purpose of this experiment, I will be using 99.9% silver bullion also called silver rounds. I do not want to damage the value of my silver coins by toning them. Since the “coins” I am using are very generic silver buffalo rounds, toning them should not affect the price as they have almost no premium.
I have never toned coins before, so I will be testing several methods I have seen on various forums.
(If you want to see a similar post where I used Liver of Sulfur Gel, Click Here!)
What I am trying to achieve
Ideally, I want these rounds to come out with a rainbow toning. Mainly, I want to have purple and blue hues on the rounds.
The consensus seems to be that the best way to artificially tone coins is to use heat and sulfur, so most of my experiments will revolve around those elements.
Since I am also very impatient, I will focus on experiments that promise to tone coins within a few hours.
1.) Using a Boiled Egg
I boiled an egg for about 8 minutes until it was hard-boiled. I put the egg in a bowl, mashed it with a fork, then threw in my silver round. Easy-peasy.
I covered the bowl in saran wrap to keep the sulfur in and left the bowl on the windowsill.
After about 30 minutes, I could tell the silver was beginning to tone!
So far, it was not a very attractive toning. This coin looks more like it was burnt in a house fire rather than touched by a rainbow.
After another hour in the sun…
This one didn’t come out too bad! With some more time and a few more eggs I could have gotten a much more even color. I was hoping for more blue tones instead of the spotted burnt look.
2.) The Baked Potato Method
I had high hopes for this one! After the egg, this was the most highly recommended way to tone a coin easily. Plus, it was supposed to work in less than an hour!
I took a potato and cut a hole for my silver round to fit in.
I put the potato in the oven for 350 degrees, expecting to let it cook for about an hour.
No changes after 10 minutes, not surprising as the potato was barely hot.
After 30 minutes I was getting slightly worried. I saw absolutely no changes!
Finally, after an hour I took the potato out of the oven. I covered the potato in aluminum foil, hoping this would keep whatever catalyst was supposed to tone the round in. Potatoes apparently contain very little sulfur.
After an hour sitting in the baked potato here is what the silver round looked like…
Nothing. Not a spot on it.
Either this method is a hoax or I did something wrong. If I was going to repeat this experiment, I would try covering the potato in aluminum foil while baking it.
3.) Baked With Cauliflower
I almost decided not to try this one. I started it halfway through the potato experiment that seemed to be going nowhere, so my expectations were low.
I put some cauliflower in a Pyrex baking pan with olive oil and salt. (In case I wanted to eat it later.) I covered the Pyrex in aluminum foil. Then, threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Wow! This one was working so much better than the potato, probably due to the higher sulfur content of cauliflower.
I flipped the Buffalo Round over and let it sit as the cauliflower cooled for another hour.
After another hour out of the oven…
This one worked great! The cauliflower gave the silver the blue color I was looking for. This was by far the best toning method I had tried all day.
4.) Onion and Kale (11:45)
Since the baked potato method did not work, I decided to try onion and kale. Both foods came up on a list of high-sulfur foods and I happened to have both on hand.
Instead of baking, I sautéed the onion and kale for about 8-10 minutes since that is how I normally eat them. As soon as the kale and onions were cooked, I put them in a tupperware container with the silver and shook it up.
My hope was the heat and sulfur trapped in a small container would be the secret to an even toning.
After 30 minutes in the kale and onions…
Hmm… I thought this combination would work much better and faster. After an hour in the sun, there were only some light brown spots. I do have to give this method credit for creating a much more even effect on both sides.
5.) Shampoo and Heat
Some shampoos are made with sulfate, a sulfur compound. I used Head and Shoulders for this.
I hoped that by heating the shampoo on the silver I would speed up the chemical process. This didn’t seem to be working so I inhaled lots of burnt shampoo for nothing.
If you were curious, Head and Shoulders shampoo is not flammable! Who knew? I swapped the lighter for a Butane Torch to speed up the process.
Eventually, I gave up on heating the silver round and resigned to leave it in the sun. I will update this post in a few day if I get any results.
Speaking of waiting…
5.) Manilla Envelope
This is the one I am least excited for, since it is supposed to take several weeks to process. Thankfully-although it is the middle of Winter- I live in California so I still get a decent amount of sun most days.
I am still waiting on the results of this one. I may try to speed to process up with a humidifier. But for now, I will wait. 😦
I had lots of fun running around my kitchen looking for new ways to tone my silver rounds. It did feel very wrong to be intentionally damaging them, since until now I have tried to handle my silver as little as possible to prevent spots.
I am hoping that now that I have artificially toned my own coins I will be able to better spot coins that have been artificially toned in order to avoid them.
Yes, although I was excited to see the colors change I do think they look VERY ugly now. Nothing about the toning looks natural; it is too uneven.
Check out my follow-up article where I do the professional method:
Toning a Silver Round with Liver of Sulphur Gel
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