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Thread: Cleaning Coins/Relics with Peroxide

  1. #1

    Cleaning Coins/Relics with Peroxide

    Directionsfor the Cleaning of Artifacts/Coins using Hydrogen Peroxide


    1 - Microwaveable plastic bowl /container– I use empty Tucks containers (They fit nicely in the coffee cup warmer - see #3)

    2 - Bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide which is 3% H2O2

    3 - Heat Source- I used to just put under a desk lamp to heat the H202, but formany years been using a Microwave Oven, and at times to keep warm, one of thoseelectric coffee cup warmers which keeps the fluid hot for longer/toughercleanings.

    4 - Box of Cotton Swabs – Q Tips are the best – others fall apart tooeasily

    5 - Distilledwater to soak in if coin or relic is somewhat porous

    6 - Ren Wax,Bees Wax, Blue Ribbon, Coin Care, and if you desire, a light coating of OliveOil or Vaseline, I prefer for now Bees Wax. Blue Ribbon no longeravailable. Have not tried Ren Wax to date.

    7 - Nylon brushor toothbrush


    Make sure the artifact/coin is free of any oil coating like olive oil ifyou previously had soaked this object. The oil coating prevents the HydrogenPeroxide from working on the dirt.

    Using themicrowave plastic container, pour in enough H202 so that it will coverwhat you are cleaning by at least a half inch or more, the dirtier it isthe more peroxide you should add to reduce number of times youmight have to replace the fluid if not cleaning easily.

    I heat thecontainer for no more than one minute in the microwave. MAKESURE THE COIN/RELIC IS NOT IN THE CONTAINER!

    Remove frommicrowave and then add you coins/relics to be cleaned.

    I then put thecontainer onto my electric coffee cup warmer to maintain the heat, whichseems to speed up the process but is not necessary by any means.

    If the solutionis hot enough the boiling of the Peroxide should be very evident to you andshould remind you of a geyser. Once it is cooking it sprays the bubbles and smokes(vapors) a little. This should continue for anywhere from 15 minutes toover an hour depending upon how cruddy the item/s are.

    Periodically remove the object if you want to check on the progress. I usuallythen lay it on a napkin and take a wet cotton swab and start to gently rub and seehow much crud is coming off the object. It might take several hours or more toget real clean. You might even have to repeat the entire process if the objecthas a lot of stubborn crud on it.

    When the bubbling of the Peroxide stops the cleaningalso is done. If it needs more cleaning start overagain with fresh fluid.

    Keep your cotton swabs wetwith the Peroxide while gently rubbing, this will prevent scratches. ( Ido not hold back on using many q-tips in the removing of the crud, probablyaverage 10-25 per coin, less for a button. Do not rub so hard that you start “erasing” the patina, be gentle butkeep going till you are satisfied the dirt is removed, remember you arebasically removing accumulated years of crud.

    When done with your cleaning, rinse the objectwell with water.(warm distilled water preferred and actually soaking for anhour or more does not hurt to do so.)

    After a distilledwater soaking, I dry thoroughly under the heat from a desk lamp.


    When thecoin/relic is thoroughly dried, it most likely will need a coating of apreservative, lately I have been using Bees Wax***, which can be bought athobby stores in bars. I put shavings of the wax on both sides of thecoin/relic and put on a plastic lid (lid from the Tucks container) and heatusing a gooseneck desk lamp by putting it very close to the relic to melt thewax.
    When the waxcompletely melts and surrounds the relic, including the edges, using a papertowel or napkin and quickly pick up the relic and wipe off excess wax. Ithen allow the relic to cool down to room temperature.

    When it is cooleddown, than I take and buff the coin using an all nylon brush, but a toothbrushwill do and remove all excess wax that the coin no longer feels like it iswaxed. I do have a dremel, but have not found it necessary to use for thebuff, but it sure could produce some great results, I am sure.

    Hopefully withexperience and knowledge your relic will look much better and be protected fromfurther damage.
    Some notes:
    *** FinalCoatings: Bees Wax, Ren Wax, Blue Ribbon, Coin Care, Vaseline,Olive Oil, Mineral Oil. I am sure there might be afew others.

    I use this methodon almost all relics and coins, except pewter finds. It does work on silver coins, but usually Ido not use it on silver, if I do, do not mix with copper objects.

    I believe each artifact/coin is unique in how it is cleaned. Some didnot clean up to good.. If it is a corroded object, like a pitted, greenIndian Head, I don’t think anything you do will help that.

    Also remember, acopper coin or relic that has been in the ground will most likely haveenvironmental damage, what many say is patina is not true patina, but a falsecorroded layer that will peel or dissolve away on cleanings, thus you hear theterm, cleaning ruined my coin! NO, the corrosion ruined the coin, not thecleaning. A coin or other relic with a true solid patina will not bedamaged by proper cleaning.

    "The coin iswhat it is" and you cannot change the corrosion that happened prior, butyou can try and stop and prevent further deterioration for you own enjoyment inyour collection.

    My best advice is to experiment with definite non valuablecoins/buttons/relics before attempting on a possible very nice find.

    There are timeswhen a coin/relic is heavily corroded that removing the dirt will remove thefalse details that you saw originally and in those cases of heavily corrosion,you must cut back on how much you clean. BUT, I strongly advise alwaystaking BEFORE and AFTER photos of your finds in a standard manner.............

    I got theoriginal idea of using peroxide from a Rich in Michigan who used to post manyyears ago back on the Findmall forums, I took it a step further and spread theword, been using this method since October 2003, after almost 20 yearspreviously of using Olive Oil, which for the most part I regret to this day I used it.

    Don Hartman

  2. #2
    Elite Member coinnut's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Western Massachusetts
    Nice write up Don. I have had some good results using hot peroxide, but I probably should leave them in a bit longer sometimes. The bees wax sounds interesting and I will give it a shot. Some coins are just destined to look good and others are shot and it really doesn't matter what you do to them. Thanks for the great write up. I too regret all the times I spent months watching an Indian soak in olive oil.
    Finding relics is in my blood

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  3. #3
    Administrator del's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Don great job , thanks so much for taking the time to explain this method with such detail.

    "Honesty is an expensive gift ,
    so don't expect it from cheap people"

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  4. #4
    Elite Member giant056's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Kalamazoo Michigan
    It seems like I am always running out of peroxide, it's just so handy for a lot of different things, even apothecary's use it for all sorts of remedies and it really is a healing super cleaning thing. Maybe next time I buy some I'll try finding a half gallon bottle.

  5. #5
    Global Moderator Ill Digger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    N. Illinois
    Yes, very nice explanation. Very thorough!
    Thanks for taking the time to share your method!

    Now I just gotta find something that old.
    Some days you get the corn, some days you get the cob
    ​Oldest coin: ​70 B.C. "Harlow Flyer" gold qtr. Stater
    Oldest U.S. coin: 1814 Capped Bust Dime

  6. #6
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Western MA
    2014 Goals: 20 Silver, 5 Large Coppers, 1 Gold Coin (not anticipating being able to detect much this year; NEW BABY HERE!!)
    So Far: (0) Silver; (2) KG, LC 1807; (2) IH; (3) Buff

    2013 Total: 36 Silver; 5LC (including 1 FUGIO)
    2012 Total:101 Silver; 11 LC

  7. #7
    Excellent write up. I'm going to give it a try when I find the right coin.
    Hunt hard & Hunt safe!!!
    Robbie, Hamilton,Il
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