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How to Clean a Penny

Posted by Flitz International on 19th Mar 2020

The Legendary Flitz Penny Demo

One of our favorite demonstrations is polishing a old penny. It’s quick, simple, and the results are amazing. Along with a list of other uses and applications that can be found at the bottom of this blog post, Flitz Paste Polish can be used to easily remove oxidation from a penny and many other coins as well. The penny is not only a great demonstration but has an interesting history as well...

The History of Penny Composition

The penny’s composition has actually changed over time. The original pennies that date back before 1837 were made of pure copper. At that time, the composition was changed to bronze. Bronze is primarily copper with 5% tin and zinc. In 1857, the US Mint wanted the penny to have a more white appearance. This is when the penny was made with a mixture of copper and nickel.

From 1864 until 1962, the penny was switched back to the bronze composition. During World War II, the penny was changed to steel coated in zinc. This was because copper was needed during the war for wiring, shell casings, etc. The US Mint states that there are probably only 40 unclaimed 1943 pennies out there in the world making them a hot commodity for coin collectors. One penny from 1943 sold for $82,500 in 1996 (we’ll wait while you go check your piggy banks!).

There were also limited quantities of the copper penny minted in 1943, so the best way to determine whether you have a zinc-coated steel penny is to use a magnet. In 1962, not much changed besides removing the small traces of tin that were a part of the bronze composition. Since then, the composition switched to 97.5% zinc with a copper coating.

How to Polish Your Penny

How to clean a penny: 

Apply Flitz Paste Polish, rub briskly, polish with a soft cloth. It’s simple enough to do in 30 seconds. We put Flitz directly on our Flitz Microfiber Towel, but you can also apply it to the penny (or whatever other surface you are polishing). Since it is non-toxic, you can apply Flitz Paste Polish directly with your finger. Don’t let the paste polish dry while you are using it. For best results, buff with a Flitz Microfiber Towel, a dry towel. You can also use a paper towel, but it may tear during buffing. 

Please note: If you have a rare coin that you believe has substantial value, you should not attempt to polish it until you determine it's real value. Polishing can diminish the numismatic value of a coin by adding microscopic imperfections to the surface of the coin. Some coin values actually go up with an aged patina. 

Flitz Paste Polish easily removes tarnish, rust, water stains, chalking, lime deposits, heat discoloration, lead & powder residue, oxidation, bugs, tar, oil, fingerprints, tree sap, bird droppings, graffiti, dyes, black streaks and scuff marks. 

Flitz can be used on Brass, Copper, Silver-plate, Sterling Silver, Chrome, Stainless Steel, Nickel, Bronze, Solid Gold, Aluminum, Anodized Aluminum, Beryllium, Magnesium, Platinum, Pewter, Factory Hot Gun Bluing, Painted Surfaces, Formica®, Cultured Marble, Corian®, Glass, Plexiglas®, Plastics, Fiberglass, Eisenglass, and Armatel®. 

You should not use Flitz Paste Polish on electroplated finishes.