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A Penny For Your Sauce?

Science fair project for Chem 1310.
by

Amanda August

on 29 November 2012

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Transcript of A Penny For Your Sauce?

The Main Idea Pennies are made out of copper. After exposure to air for long periods of time, pennies tend to tarnish, or become a darker brown color. The oxide in the air tarnishes the penny, so in order for us to clean them we must bond the oxide to an acid.
Hot sauces that contain vinegar and salt are acidic. Thus we can use them to clean our pennies.

By Amanda August A Penny For Your Sauce? Prediction Based on what we know about why the pennies tarnish and acids, it's safe to say that I'm predicting the sauces to clean the pennies fairly well. The Taco Bell sauce should work the best whereas the sauces from places that do not specialize in spicy, hot foods (i.e. Subway and Steak and Shake) are going to be the least effective on the pennies. Variables Dependent Variable: How tarnished the pennies are to begin with. I picked five pennies I deemed dirty enough but there was no way for them to all have to same amount of tarnish.

Independent Variable: Where the sauces came from is a dependent variable because I chose the restaurants where I obtained them from.

Controlled Variables:
1. How long the pennies stay in the sauce.
2. How much sauce is put on the pennies.
Procedure: Materials 1. Hot sauce from five different fast food restaurants.
2. 10 pennies. (You only need five for the experiment, but you've got to repeat it!)
3. A timer.
4. A teaspoon.
5. Somewhere to clean off your hot sauce covered pennies. Procedure: Step By Step 1. Gather materials.
2. Find a clean place that you won't mind getting a little messy.
3. Lay out your five pennies and label them for which hot sauce you're going to use on it.
4. Use a teaspoon to place a teaspoon of each sauce into it's own cup.
5. Place the pennies in the cups and start your time for five minutes.
6. Remove your pennies from the sauce and clean them off with water.
7. Observe and record the cleanliness of your newly shined pennies.
8. Repeat. How to measure your results: In order to measure the cleanliness of the pennies, you can make a chart using the dirtiest penny you can find and the cleanest penny you can find and create your own scale of cleanliness.
You can take pictures to determine the difference from when you started and after you put the pennies in the sauce. Data: Data: Results 2 <<Attempt 1

Attempt 2 >> Data: Results The Taco Bell hot sauce did not perform as well as I had expected. It did fairly poorly on my cleanliness scale.
The Subway sauce, which I had expected to do poorly because it's from a restaurant that makes sandwiches.
The Wendy's sauce had a different effect on it's first penny since the penny was made in 1982. Pennies made before 1983 were made entirely of copper and the Wendy's sauce made it rough and it looked as if it was corroding.
Conclusion: What did I learn? Data Interpretation: According to my research, the hot sauces that cleaned the pennies the best and were able to remove the most tarnish are the sauces that contain vinegar and salt. The Wendy's hot sauce packet says it contains vinegar and salt near the top of the ingredients list, whereas the Taco Bell sauce has water listed first and vinegar and salt much later. There may be a correlation between the amount of vinegar and salt and how well the pennies are cleaned. During this experiment, I learned:

That the reason pennies tarnish is because of the oxide in the air.
That bonding an oxide with an acid will clean a penny.
That the reason hot sauces are able to clean pennies is because of the mixture of vinegar and salt.
That even though Taco Bell hot sauce is specialized for hot foods it is not as acidic as hot sauces from other places.
Possible Errors: The coins were put into the sauces a few seconds apart from each other.
Some of the coins were more tarnished than others at the beginning of the project.
The amount of time I gave the sauce to clean the pennies may have been too long or too short for optimal cleaning potential.
My ability to judge how clean or dirty the pennies were at the beginning and end of the experiment. Questions that arose: Can I use only vinegar to clean pennies?
Does hot sauce work to clean other coins?
What would be more efficient to use to clean pennies?
How would hot sauce from other restaurants compare?
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