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Friday, July 22, 2011


Some metal items are not made from just one metals, but are composed of a thin layer of one metal on another. This is called plating, and very often, the base metal is cheaper than the coating. Silverplate is a common example of this. Plating is done by first dissolving the coating metal, then placing the base object in the solution. Sometimes electricity is needed to create the coating, but sometimes the reaction just happens spontaneously.

Here's an experiment you can perform to plate copper onto a nail, screw, or other iron or steel object.

What You'll Need:
20-30 pennies
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Plastic or glass bowl
1 or 2 nails or screws

Pour the vinegar and salt into the bowl, stir, and add water until the salt dissolves. Put the pennies into the liquid and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. What happens to the pennies? Remove the pennies from the solution and add the nails or screws. Let them sit for 30 minutes. Have they changed color? If not, check back in an hour. You will eventually notice a brown coating of copper metal forming on the nail or screw.

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