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Acetone Okay? Don't Jump On Me Yet....

 
 
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Valued Member

United States
156 Posts
 Posted 03/31/2014  5:37 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add LeoS to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
On a couple of my posts, I am hearing "Soak in Acetone".

A couple questions:

How long do I soak coins? Can I fill an aluminum can and drop in 20-40 coins and let them sit?

Should I use a toothbrush afterwards for a little scrubbing?

Will this do a good job?

WIll this impact value?

NOW, you can JUMP.
Valued Member
United Kingdom
94 Posts
 Posted 03/31/2014  6:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add mcstone to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If you want to acetone an expensive coin without damaging it then I would say that that is not a great idea. There are tutorials online that show some more careful ways of treating coins.

Otherwise, I have done this with some old copper pennies that were badly PVC damaged and it worked ok, but where the coins lay over each other the acetone didn't clean very well and I ended up doing much of them individually anyway. I would suggest doing this in small batches and strictly only on coins with very little value or special meaning to you.

A tooth brush and/or scrubbing is also NEVER advised, this will certainly do more harm than good in my experience.
Edited by mcstone
03/31/2014 6:09 pm
Pillar of the Community
United States
4178 Posts
 Posted 03/31/2014  6:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add dsfreeworld to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
DO NOT use a tooth brush and scrub anything
DO NOT soak even 2 coins in a tin can or jar let alone 20 or 40

this is what I was told

Acquire a quart of acetone from Home Depot or Lowe's, in the paint section. Treat it like gasoline for storage purposes, and do this operation in a well-ventilated area like your garage or the bathroom with the fan on. Drop the coin into a shot glass, fill it with acetone and cover it with a little pane of glass to prevent evaporation - this stuff is volatile as heck and it'll evaporate quickly.

Latex kitchen gloves will provide sufficient protection for your fingers, but don't soak your fingers as it'll eventually break down.

Have a second shotglass or something reasonably small (so as not to waste acetone) to serve as a quick rinse after a soak; use that rinse only once each time. Have a magnifier handy, so you can see the "infected" areas clearly. Give the first soak two hours, pull the coin and swish it immediately in the rinse (which you pour immediately before use). Then lose both the original soak solution and the rinse solution; acetone is miscible with water so you can safely pour it down the drain while water is running, but give the running water plenty of time to wash it away. Rinse both glasses under pressure, as well, to "blast" away any crud that's been deposited.

No need to ever use water on the coin itself; acetone evaporates cleanly and leaves no residue once the PVC infestation is gone. I don't expect one soak will do the job, though.

Have a look at the coin under magnification, with a toothpick - even better, waste a couple dollars on a grocery-store rose to obtain thorns (tell the hubby you want roses but don't tell him exactly why), and porcupine quills work wonderfully if you happen to have a porcupine handy - and pick at the areas where you can still see green. Acetone softens the crud, and you should be able to physically remove what you still see.

Once this is done, repeat the two-hour soak/rinse/magnification/hubby's roses. This second soak should likely make the job "look" done. But I put that term in quotes for a reason. This is where you start a third soak, and this one goes overnight. Two consecutive quick rinses in the morning, and then go over it with a fine-tooth comb with all the magnification you have to bear. You can expect there to be smaller dots of PVC in areas not even visible in the photos above, and you need to make sure that nothing is left on the coin or it will just come back.

That should do it. Do not be afraid to repeat those two-hour soaks as often as necessary before the overnight; the acetone will not harm the coin.
Valued Member
United States
235 Posts
 Posted 03/31/2014  8:40 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add PatAR to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I don't have the benefit of familiarity with previous threads you may be referencing so forgive me if my response is lengthy.

As with so many of life's endeavors, good results are heavily dependent on knowing when to use tools and what tools to use for which issues.

First, a coin should never be treated by any means, chemical or otherwise, unless there is no other way to conserve the coin. If the coin is not actively being damaged by PVC residue, verdigris, or other similar afflictions then NO action should be taken on the coin. Put it in a good, inert holder and enjoy it as it is.

Secondly, NEVER EVER scrub or otherwise move anything across the metal surfaces of a coin. EVER. NEVER. I cannot stress this point enough.

The situations in which acetone, by itself or in combination with other efforts, will conserve a coin do exist, but are relatively limited. The opinions on what conditions warrant one method versus another are almost as varied as the number of numismatists.

In the event that a coin can be conserved through the use of acetone, then dsfreeworld's description above is sound.

For any scarcer coins I would recommend leaving conservation to experts.

But certainly it is good to learn and experimenting with how coins react can aid in identifying coins similarly exposed when shopping at a coin show, etc. I recommend you start with some everyday pocket change that has some dirt, gunk, etc on it. Only after you feel very comfortable with what you've learned should you consider attempting to conserve some of your lower value collector coins.

Hope this was helpful in guiding your efforts.
Pillar of the Community
United States
7022 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2014  04:01 am  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
dsfreeworld gave some good advice! I've soaked coins in acetone for more than 48 hours with no ill effects, I use a ceramic dish covered. I would not use any plastic dish as the acetone will eat right through it. switching out dirty acetone for clean acetone is a good thing.

No need to ever use water to rinse, as mentioned, I used to rinse with distilled water only, but acetone will evaporate quickly leaving no trace. Acetone can dry out a coin, so there is an issue of that, a long time ago when it was still available early copper collectors used a product called "Blue Ribbon" to coat their valuable coins with after a conservation cleaning and acetone or xylene treatment to remove gunk, adhesives, old lacquer, etc. now that it is no longer available due to environmental concerns, I'm not sure what is out on the market that may help preserve a coin beyond the removal of the bad surface grime, and oils that the acetone will remove. Verdi-Care (formulated by our own BadThad here on CCF) is often recommended. Maybe he will chime in on this too.
"Buy the Book Before You Buy the Coin" - Aaron R. Feldman - "And read it" - Me 2013!
ANA Life Member #3288 in good standing since 1982, EAC Member #6202, NBS Member, 2 variety collector.

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Pillar of the Community
United States
4178 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2014  10:35 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add dsfreeworld to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Verdi-Care is very good and I use that in conjunction with the acetone process. I salvaged an AU 1837 Capped Bust Dime that was riddled with verdigras. The acetone process and a Verdi-Care bath removed and fixed all. That coin is on its way from PCGS as we speak and I am hoping for a good, problem free grade.

FYI - SuperDave gets all the credit for the acetone process. That was a straight copy/paste from when he walked me through saving that 1837
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United States
7529 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2014  1:10 pm  Show Profile   Check 52Raymo's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 52Raymo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A baby food jar with lid works great for acetone.
Oregon coin geek.....*** GO BEAVS ! ! ! ***
Pillar of the Community
United States
1211 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2014  2:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jerseyben to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hardware store acetone, glass jar, q-tip, soft towel. Soak in acetone 1 at a time. Place coin on towel and lightly roll q-tip over surface to lift off loosened dirt. Repeat as many times as you need. I have soaked coins for days. Does not affect them.
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United States
4038 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2014  3:42 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add bpoc1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
A baby food jar with lid works great for acetone.



Quote:
I don't have the benefit of familiarity with previous threads you may be referencing so forgive me if my response is lengthy.

Go to the top left of the page where it says "Search Coin Community" then type in Acetone. Then read as many post that can help you.
Moderator
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United States
23520 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2014  8:01 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add SsuperDdave to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
A baby food jar with lid works great for acetone.


My only worry - and the reason I "place" lids over top of an acetone soak rather than fastening them - is the potential for increased internal pressure due to acetone's extreme evaporative activity. Let the pressure equalize, and the ventilation dissipate any fumes. Probably just being paranoid, but acetone is the last thing on Earth I want to be insufficiently paranoid about.
Valued Member
United States
156 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2014  8:34 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add LeoS to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks everyone.

dsfreeworld : I'd be curious (if you have them) to see pre soak/cleaning/post photos, and would love to know the grade returned to you.

I guess I'll skip the baking soda/tooth brush method I see on you tube. It looked rather aggressive.

I have nothing "special" to clean, just a lot of late 1800 coins that are worth slightly over melt, but wanted to see them SHINE!

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Australia
13140 Posts
 Posted 04/01/2014  9:09 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Acetone will not "make coins shine". Acetone is good for coins that have "goo" of some kind stuck to them - paint, glue, varnish, stickytape residue, permanent marker pen ink, that sort of thing. It's also good for removing the sticky residue that can build up on coins housed in the wrong kind of plastic coin album pages for too long, though very often in such cases the coin is damaged underneath the goo. Acetone will not effect toning, tarnish or corrosion.

If you want to "make coins shine", grab a bottle of silver polish and scrub away at them all you want. Just be aware that doing so will (a) make coin collectors hate you, and (b) take your coins that are "worth slightly over melt" and make them "worth melt only". Harsh cleaning of this kind thoroughly devalues most coins.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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