Science4MyKid
Science Project: Nifty Nail Viewed: 4352
Return To Project List Printable View

Nifty Nail

Dig out that pile of pennies you've been saving and make yourself a copper-plated nail.

You need:

  • 2 to 4 oz. lemon juice or vinegar (60-125 mL)
  • 10 to 20 dull copper pennies
  • large, clean nail
  • salt
  • small glass or jar

What to do:

Put the pennies into a glass and cover them with lemon juice or vinegar. Add a pinch of salt. Let them stand for 2 or 3 minutes. 

Clean the nail with scouring powder and water. Then add the nail to the solution. Wait at least 15 minutes. Then fish out the nail.

What happens:

The nail is coated with copper.

Why:

Copper from the pennies interacts with the acid of the lemon juice to form a new compound (copper citrate). When you insert the nail into the solution, the compound plates the nail with a thin layer of copper that cannot be rubbed off.
Once you've got your copper nail, you might want to wear it on a string.

Be careful not to get the lemon juice or vinegar in your eyes, it will burn