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Pickleing pennies

I annealed some newer pennies so I could dome them tonight. I assumed
that if I want to dome any metal it would have to be annealed first,
One group of pennies I got the flame too hot ad melted a couple. When
I put the others in the pickle, there was sudden and noticable fumes
and I started to cough. I quickly dumped the small container of
pickle and rinsed the pennies in water. They look interesting as the
copper was taken off on one side. My question is why did this happen?
And is there a pickle to use with pennies? Should I have to anneal
them at all to dome?


Pennies haven’t been made of pure copper since 1983. When I’ve
accidentally torched a newer penny it melts very quickly into a
blob. 1982 and before you can treat them like what they are–pure


I think pennies are copper plated aluminum, you need old pennies.


You don’t need to anneal them. What are you using for pickle?


The reason it happened is that new pennies are made of 97.5 percent
zinc and 2.5 percent copper according to the us mint Web site. If
you need domed copper it’s probably better to buy some at your local
hardware store or metalliferous or some other know source.

Dave Kuchta

Pennies have zinc in the middle. They haven’t been solid copper for
years. You probably melted the zinc inside and it leaked.


Hello Brenda,

Newer pennies are not solid copper - they are zinc, plated with

Here is a quote taken from the US Mint website: “…1982, when the
composition was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper
(copper-plated zinc).”

So check the dates on the pennies.

Judy in Kansas

When I have domed cents, I have just done it. They are not copper,
just copper plated. Depending on your pickle (what chemical) you
will have reactions with the metals. The main purpose of pickle is to
remove the copper from the surface of soldered sterling silver.


New pennies are mostly zinc with only a thin coating of copper. Zinc
fumesare toxic and appear as a bluish color. The zinc melts at a low
temperature. So you can’t really anneal new pennies, only the older
copper penniesif you insist on annealing. Don’t breath that blue
smoke in!

Rick Powell

Brenda, today’s pennies are not solid copper; they are copper-plated
(ca. 2.5%) and mostly zinc, which melts at a much lower temperature
than copper. For solid copper pennies, use pennies that are older
than 1981. As for annealing, just try doming one without annealing.
Pickling should be the same as with any other copper item.

Good luck!
Judy Bjorkman