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when coins reek


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A friend brought me some U.S. coins that his dad must've had stashed in a dank basement for decades. The musty smell is overpowering. The large cents are fairly cruddy, so I'm guessing that the smell has permeated the crud, but there's a fairly decent 1830 Bust half that I'd like to de-smellify if possible. Is there any way to neutralize the odor?

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I would take a few drops of dishwashing liquid and add them to about a pint of warm water in a small container -- let the (probably mold-affected) coin soak for a night -- the soap shouldn't hurt the surface.

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Thanks for the advice.

 

I'll try the most harmless method first - maybe seal the coins in a container with baking soda or charcoal for a few days. This is eye-watering, über mould, so I may run through most of your suggestions, short of sandblasting. :ninja:

 

(gxseries, I won't use acetone on the copper coins.)

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I highly don't recommand acetone with copper coins, especially when they have a fair amount of crust on them.

 

Why is that? I use acetone, especially on the early U.S. coppers, to remove the "gunk" built up around the legends and devices and it effectively accomplishes that without damaging the surface of the coin. I soak a really crusty piece for several minutes and "work" the gunky areas with a very soft artist's brush (and VERY lightly!!!) until the crud is gone, constantly re-rinsing with fresh acetone. When that job is done, I rinse thoroughly with distilled water and dry the coin. I guess I just don't see the problem with acetone.

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Thanks for the advice.

 

I'll try the most harmless method first - maybe seal the coins in a container with baking soda or charcoal for a few days. This is eye-watering, über mould, so I may run through most of your suggestions, short of sandblasting. :ninja:

 

(gxseries, I won't use acetone on the copper coins.)

 

 

 

I'd take a pass on the baking soda - unless you make sure it does not come in contact with the coin itself. Rinsing in distilled water and then air drying is probably the best and safest bet.

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Why is that? I use acetone, especially on the early U.S. coppers, to remove the "gunk" built up around the legends and devices and it effectively accomplishes that without damaging the surface of the coin. I soak a really crusty piece for several minutes and "work" the gunky areas with a very soft artist's brush (and VERY lightly!!!) until the crud is gone, constantly re-rinsing with fresh acetone. When that job is done, I rinse thoroughly with distilled water and dry the coin. I guess I just don't see the problem with acetone.

 

 

Because acetone has a nasty habit of reacting with copper and making the coins turn all sorts of weird colors later on.

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Because acetone has a nasty habit of reacting with copper and making the coins turn all sorts of weird colors later on.

 

Wow. I've used it on copper for a long time and never had that happen :ninja:

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I too have used Acetone on all types of coins. Copper, Silver, Clad, etc with no after effects. However, I do rince with distilled water then blow dry with a hair dryer. If the Acetone is in a container that slightly disolves in the Acetone, then of course the coin will pick up that as a residue especially if not rinsed after. As to dishsoap, Don't do it. Try to remember that everydish soap has a different chemical formulae pending on the brand. I've done some extensive attemps at AT and some dishsoaps are great for that. Baking soda will nutralize any acidic properties on a coin regardless of the coins metalic properties. However, baking soda will also leave a residue if not properly rinsed afterwards. As to tap water, also remember that in different areas of the country tap water is different. For instance in many large city areas the tap water is treated with chemicals to kill bacteria. Some of these are Chlorine which is not a coins best freind. Some tap waters go through water softeners leaving the water full of Sodium Chloride which is also not great on coins if left to dry. USE ONLY DISTILLED WATER ON COINS. Note that Acetone will easily dissolve in water so after an Acetone bath, rince with distilled water.

As to the odor, metals do not have an odor of thier own so it is obviously the contaminate on the coin that smells so try the distilled water method first.

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Thanks for the advice.

 

I'll try the most harmless method first - maybe seal the coins in a container with baking soda or charcoal for a few days. This is eye-watering, über mould, so I may run through most of your suggestions, short of sandblasting. :ninja:

 

(gxseries, I won't use acetone on the copper coins.)

Now that you mention "uber mold" this fix comes to mind; mix 2-3 drops of GSE in a pint of warm water and soak the coins in it. GSE is the world's greates fungus killer and is effective in miniscule concentrations which are far too dilute to cause color changes on bronze. Acetone has no discernible effect on the color of circulated bronze coins in my experience, past removing surface adhesions, and distilled water isn't necessary (unless your tap water is chlorinated) when circulated, dirty coins are the object of the cleaning. Circulated bronzes have been exposed to many elements over the years and color changes caused by common minerals contained in ordinary well water or packaged drinking water aren't very likely on dirty bronze coins.

 

I won't get on my soapbox about the ludicrous modern fetish against removing gunk from coins, other than to say that it has been carried to extremes among US collectors. I would surely clean the gunk off of those old cents, mainly because they were likely to have been cleaned with a light application of lard long ago, and lard supports the growth of some rather nasty fungi.

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28Plain, I've used acetone to remove pvc contamination on copper and bronze without seeing any immediate signs of discoloration, but after many warnings about future color changes I've avoided using acetone on these metals unless I have to. People have had divergent results, it seems. You give me hope that my coins won't turn dayglo orange.

 

Lard makes a better pie crust than a coin crust, as my dear grandmother might have said. I'll take a look at GSE, and I really appreciate all the advice. Experimentation to follow. Lots of it.

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Can you also use Isopropylol Alchohol to rinse of the coins after an Acetone Bath. Thanks.

NO. It is more than likely a mixture of the Alcohol and water and who knows what. Normally at room temperature Alcohol is a gas so it is mixed with water as a stablizer at room temperature. Note on the normal bottles of it, it will say something like 70%. Since you don't know what the other 30% is, don't use it on coins.

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Acetone will NOT react with copper. If a coin rinsed with Acetone begins to turn colors some time after such exposure to Acetone it is more than likely the drying method or exposure to something else afterwards. Note that the Acetone will remove most contaminates from any metal but will not react with the metal itself. However, extreamly cleaned metals of any type have no protection of any kind from outside sourses. Therefore, Copper coins completely void of any oils, greases, dirt, etc will start to react with that horible stuff called Oxygen.

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Normally at room temperature Alcohol is a gas so it is mixed with water as a stablizer at room temperature.

You must live in an awfully warm room. Isopropanol is a liquid at room temperature. It boils at 179 degrees F. (Yes it will evaporate at room temperature,but so will water and you wouldn't say water is normally a gas at room temperature.) The alcoholis cut with water for two reasons one, to make the product cheaper, and two because the alcohol has such an affinity for water that it is impossible to seperate it completely and difficult to get it up to more than 86% alcohol.

 

You are usually very safe with rubbing alcohol. It is rarely cut witih anything oher than water. About the only other thing would be a fragrance and that would probably be listed on the label. It is after all a topical medication so they do have some limits as to what can be in it.

 

You do want to use a product with as high an alcohol content as possible to avoid waterspots.

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