Electroplating with Common Household Ingredients

electroplating at home

Alchemy is a fascinating subject. The topic was even used as a central figure in the best-selling novel by a famous Brazilian author. It was a notable profession in the ancient world. Alchemists were known to be wise and powerful individuals. They were like the sorcerers in the old, medieval ages.

In today’s modern society, the art of alchemy remains a mysterious thing of the past. Although some people may still be fascinated with the craft, they are no longer as enthusiastic as they were before electricity was discovered. That’s because there’s a new method of metalworking which has caught their attention. It’s called “electroplating.”

What Is Electroplating?

electroplated objects
Electroplated Metals Can Last Indefinitely.

Electroplating is the scientific method of transferring metal atoms from one surface to another, using electricity. The procedure is akin to electrolysis. It’s the process of breaking down atoms of a certain metal, and transferring some of them to the surface of another object through an electric current. The purpose of this method is to create a protective covering for the material. It’s also used to polish metallic and non-metallic objects.

There are three essential components to the process. The two metal elements to which the electric current flows are called electrodes. These electrodes are dipped into an acidic solution and connected to both ends of a battery or power supply, to create a circuit where electricity can flow.

The electrolyte is responsible for splitting the chemical compounds of metal and bringing a thin layer of its atoms to the other metal. This chemical substance must be carefully selected to ensure the right reaction of the metals.

How to Setup an Electroplating System

It looks like a complicated process, but you can actually make your own electroplating circuit using common household materials. You can perform this procedure even in the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy this great wonder of science!

The first thing you need to consider when electroplating, is how metals react to each other. Which metallic element coats another metal? That’s a good question to ask, and the Internet is ready to give you all the answers you need.

After having considered the electrodes and electrolytes, it’s time to assemble your electroplating system. You’ll need the following materials:

  • A battery or power source
  • Plastic or glass containers
  • An acid solution
  • Two types of metallic objects
  • A battery holder with alligator clips

Two steps to set up your Electroplating System

Vinegar
Vinegar can be used in the acid solution.

Make sure to clean the metals before you plate them. Dirt, oil, and rust can cause an uneven coating on the surface. You don’t want that on your polished object.

Now, it’s time to assemble your device. Follow the steps below.

  • Fill the container with acid. Common kitchen condiments are very useful here. Lime juice and vinegar are good sources for this acidic solution. You can also use Muriatic acid, but make sure it doesn’t go beyond 50% acidity rate. Dilute the mixture with water if necessary.
  • Connect the two metal objects to each end of the power supply. For example, if you’re plating metallic coins like pennies, nickels, and dimes, clip each coin with an alligator clip and connect them to either side of the battery to make the circuit.

Now, wasn’t that simple? With only those two steps, you’ve already set up your own electroplating system. You’re now ready to plate your metal objects.

What Metals can you Electroplate?

All kinds of metals can be electroplated. You just need to know how the metals react to each other. You need to know which metal can coat another metal. Most common metals to be plated are copper, aluminum, and tin. Gold, silver, and nickel are also popular electroplating metals.

Electroplating is one of the many marvelous discoveries in science, which can also be considered an art. Experience is the best teacher when learning this craft. With your creativity, you can make up your own unique system for plating these precious metals.

About Jimmie Stone

Fascinated about Chemistry, Renewable Energy and other related branches of Science. Loves to go the ballpark every weekends.

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