Alternative Cleaning Methods
Carelessness or failure to follow established electrical and/or biohazard safety standards can lead to serious injury or even death!
The following procedures are given freely and without any warranty implied or otherwise! Use at your own risk!!
Electrolysis should normally only be used on the worst case coins. Normally
called a "crusty" coin (photo on left below), it is a coin that is totally
covered in a cement-like substance that soaking and tools just won't remove.
Again, this system is NOT for coins that are attributable, rare or showing
visible details. This process will quickly and efficiently destroy any patina
and even the coin itself. Here is a picture of a "crusty" & what
it turned out to be:
a) Supplies you will need:
Usually a power transformer or battery charger that operates in the 500-800
milliamp range and no more than 12 volts. I highly recommend the following
adjustable adapter. It not only allows you to operate between 1.5 - 12 volts,
it has a reversible polarity switch should you get your wires mixed up. Price
was $9.95 at the local OSH hardware store.
Two electrical clips, a plastic or glass bowl or container and a piece of stainless steel. My wife got tired of me stealing the dinnerware, so I started using stainless steel bolts.
b) Ideally, you should use distilled water in your plastic or glass container, however tap water will work. I have also found that using baking soda allows for a slower and more controllable cleaning than using ordinary table salt. I usually use one large tablespoon of baking soda per quart of water.
c) It is important to remember that the positive (usually red) wire goes to the stainless steel and the negative (usually black) wire goes to the coin. When setup is running, bubbles should rise from the coin side of the connection. If not, your wires are backwards. It is important to know that even at low voltage, it is not pleasant getting a shock, so please ensure you use common sense and try not to kill yourself. Here is my current rig after two days usage. If you think it looks bad, try using salt for two days!
|Make note on how the bubbles are rising from the small clip? Also,
it is important to note that the positive clip will dissolve just as quickly
as the stainless steel if allowed to sit in the water. Also the closer the
coin is to the stainless steel, the faster it will work. Just remember to
not allow them to touch each other!
As you become experienced (please use culls to practice with) you will get a feel for how long a particular coin will take. Normally, I'll run the rig for fifteen minutes and then scrub the coin and if not free of encrustations, back in the bath for another fifteen minutes, repeat. Highly recommend that you purchase a simple timer as it is very easy to forget about the coin and come back an hour later to find that you've dissolved a 1,600 year old coin.
|A few items for your consideration.
Electrolysis creates a hydrogen gas that can be both harmful and explosive. Always ensure adequate ventilation and a fresh source of oxygen. A fan is highly recommended.
If a coin has serious encrustations, it is usually from the coin itself. So if you clean it with electrolysis, you'll usually get to see what hole all that gunk came from. Sometimes it's the entire coin! :(
Once you start any cleaning process, it is important to know that the process may not stop, just because you removed the coin. Always use distilled water soaks after zapping and cleaning your coin. Using any brass tools after electrolysis will usually leave the coin as shiny metal, which is not appreciated in the numismatic world. Ideally, if you keep your electrolyte solution, your coins will come out of the soup with some toning. It goes without saying that any and all patina (protective coating made over time) will be gone!