How To Clean Corroded Coins Without Devaluing Them

How To Clean Corroded Coins Without Devaluing Them

Magnet fishers love finding missing treasures no matter how small it is. This is why their face always light up when they find coins during their magnet fishing expeditions. Finding an item that doesn’t just get thrown on the scrap pile is exciting. But the problem is; often, the coins found are usually in bad shape. Sometimes, these coins will have degraded so much that it might be hard to read them. Other times, they may just be covered in light corrosion or a layer of dirt. This makes it really difficult for the finder to really know what he has found. It could be an incredibly valuable coin, or something quite useless. If you have taken a serious interest in magnet fishing, I’m sure you have experience both sides to that coin.

In light of this, magnet fishers are always looking for how to clean these coins. It can be quite risky to clean your coins if you do not know what you are doing. A coins value and integrity can be destroyed by improperly cleaning it, which will make it worthless. Because of this, we want to educate you on how to clean coins found when magnet fishing without devaluing them. We will be discussing how to clean different types of coins when you find them.

Why Do Coins Degrade Or Corrode?

Before we write about how to clean coins found when magnet fishing without devaluing them, it is important that you know the cause of their degradation. You can find these coins in many places during magnet fishing and some of the common places are beaches and shallow ponds or rivers. Also, sometimes, the coins can be covered with debris underwater. In most cases, the elements these coins face are acidic and alkaline. When the coins have prolonged exposure to these elements for a long time, they begin to rust or degrade because they are made of metal.

Coins with a high gold content will undergo this chemical process of corrosion and degradation much slower than other metals. Pure gold will not corrode hardly at all, however; pure gold is not magnetic so you probably won’t be finding much of that. The good news is, most gold is mixed with other metals to increase its strength. This makes it magnetic, but also leaves it prone to some degree of corrosion. Pure silver, also like gold, is less corrosive than your traditional metals like iron and steel. Other metal coins like copper, zinc, or brass will begin to corrode in no time.

Should You Clean Corroded Coins That You Found?

Cleaning the coins you find on your magnet fishing trip can be tricky. It can be very hard to identify what kind of coin you have without cleaning it. Therefor, some basic cleaning at the least is required. Cleaning your coins will not only reveal their value but it will also make the coin more beautiful.

There are certainly coins that you may not want to clean. Some coins that are very old may become devalued if you clean them. It can be very hard to tell if you should clean a coin or not, since you cannot identify it. If your coin seems very old and brittle, consider showing it to an expert. It still may be fine to clean your coin, but you will not be 100% certain unless you have an experts opinion.

How To Clean The Coins Without Devaluing Them

Now that we have gotten the basic information about these coins out of the way, what is next is learning how to clean them? Note that the methods which we will highlight here are fairly safe for your coins. However, this might not be enough to get all the corrosion and dirt out of the coins.

1. Using Soap And Water

Whenever you find any coin that needs cleaning, you should first try to clean it with soap and water. To do this, get warm water, mild soap, a light bristle brush, and a bowl. Proceed to soak the coins in warm water for about 15 minutes. After that, use a soft bristle brush to scrape off any dirt on the coin. An old toothbrush would be good here. If there is some heavier dirt, use your fingernails gently to scrape it off. Be very gentle as old coins with a lot of corrosion can be very brittle. Once you cannot remove any more dirt, rinse the coins off.

Take a good look at your coins when they are dry. You will not be able to see if the coin is clean enough when it is wet. Repeat the process of soaking the coins in a warm water and soap mixture for 15 minutes until you cannot get it any cleaner with this method. The soap will help in getting the dirt off the coin easily. Note that copper coins need more effort for cleaning than other types of coins. The reason is; they tend to react quicker to chemicals than others.

Furthermore, using a soft brush on the coin will help in getting more dirt off the coins. As we said previously, a soft toothbrush is an excellent choice here. You need to be very careful when doing this because you do not want the brush to leave scratches on the coin. Finally, it is time to dry your coins and admire the beauty under the dirt you just cleaned.

2. Using Chemicals

Not all coins will become clean by using only soap, water, and brush. Some coins might have become so corroded that it will take chemicals to get the rust off them. And speaking about chemicals, rest assured that the chemicals we will mention here will not devalue the coins in any way.

There are three things you need to get to complete this process. First, go to a pharmacy store near you to get isopropyl alcohol. You should also make table salt available. Finally, you will need distilled water.

Note that distilled water is not like the regular water you see or drink. Distilled water has gone through a chemical process to remove all its impurities. Besides, you can either make distilled water by yourself or buy the distilled water at pharmaceutical stores.

After these have been put in place, it is now time to clean your stubborn coins. Pour the isopropyl alcohol into a cup or bowl and mix it with two spoons of the table salt. The solution of the salt and isopropyl alcohol is acidic and will aid the removal of the dirt on the coins. But you need to be careful with the isopropyl alcohol because it is highly flammable.

After getting the isopropyl alcohol and salt solution, soak the coins in this solution for at least two hours. Moreover, you can soak the coins in the solution for more than a week depending on the level of dirt on the coins.

Remember the distilled water we asked you to get? Now is the time to use it. After taking the coins out of the solution, rinse the coins properly in the distilled water. The reason for this is to wash off the chemical solution on the coins.

Finally, dry the coins with a towel. This step is very important because moisture on coins can degrade them. And when this happens, you might need to repeat this cleaning process.

3. Use An Ultrasonic Cleaner To Clean The Coins

There is a machine called ultrasonic cleaner and it is used to clean jewelry, metals, and coins. You can get this machine from electronic stores to clean your coins. The way ultrasonic cleaners work is by using extremely high frequency created by sound to whisk liquids. This, in turn, creates bubbles that help in cleaning dirt off metals or jewelry.

Furthermore, the bubbles which the ultrasonic cleaner creates can penetrate every part of the coins. Parts that a person could never reach on a microscopic level. It would be impossible to clean a coin so thoroughly by hand. It is also great in cleaning rust and other elements that might have defaced the coins.

However, note that ultrasonic cleaners are of different grades. And it might cost a lot of money to get one that will clean the coins well enough. We highly recommend this cost efficient CO-Z 2L Professional Ultrasonic Cleaner with Digital Timer & Heater. Moreover, if you do not have the money to buy this machine, you can take the coins to jewelry shops with ultrasonic cleaners. These shops will happily clean your coins for a portion of the cost. If you are cleaning coins very often, it is worth investing the sub $100 for the convenient alone.

How To Make Your Coins Shine

After cleaning your coins successfully, the next thing to do is to give them a shiny look. And one easy way to do this is by using Vaseline. Apply the Vaseline on the coins using cotton. However, make sure that the Vaseline you apply on the coins is very little.

Moreover, the Vaseline can also help in removing dust from the coins. So, in general, using Vaseline on coins will not only make them shine, but it will also make them cleaner.

Cleaning Methods That Can Devalue Coins

One mistake people do when trying to clean their coins is by using a coin tumbler. Do not get us wrong! Coin tumblers are great for cleaning coins but they can devalue old coins. In light of this, only use coin tumblers for coins which you are sure are new. Also, you should not use a coin tumbler to clean gold and silver coins as this can destroy the coins.

Electrolysis is another method of cleaning which we do not recommend for valuable coins. However, you can use this method for bronze and nickel coins.


We have completed this article on how to clean coins found when magnet fishing without devaluing them. And we are sure that you can’t wait to find coins when magnet fishing. If you follow the steps in this guide, we can assure you that your dirty or corroded coins will come out better.

Finally, if you are not sure about how to clean the coins, you can always consult professionals. This will help you to avoid a situation where you will damage a valuable coin.

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