Coin and Artifact Cleaning Tips & Tricks

Proper cleaning of ancient coins is critical to retaining their value.  They should not be over cleaned and they should not be cleaned with a brush or other instrument that is harder than the metal in the coin.  For example, you should not clean a bronze ancient coin with a steel wire brush as steel is harder than bronze.  Coins should be cleaned to remove the dirt and to retain the original patina when possible.

Cleaning methods are diverse and will be detailed below.  To some degree, the cleaning method will depend on how dirty the coin is and what kind of dirt is on it to a lesser degree.  For example, if it is a crusty coin, it may require more harsher cleaning methods like electrolysis than a coin that has a thin layer of dirt on it.  Crusty coin is a slang term used to describe a coin that is encrusted with a thick, rock like encrustation for lack of a better word.

Cleaning methods are soaking/brushing OR electrolysis.

Electrolysis involves running a DC current through a cleaning solution via a cathode and anode.  It will clean a coin or artifact to shiny metal and is usually used as a last resort for cleaning a coin. 

Soaking / Brushing can be accomplished by soaking in various cleaning agents from distilled water to mineral oil.  The general process is to soak the item for a week or more and then brush it off and repeat.  This is the same if you are using water or olive or mineral oil.  This process can take months or even years if done properly.

A recent addition to the coin and artifact product market is a product called Mint State Restoration.  Mint state is a non-toxic cleaner that turns weeks of soaking into hours of soaking.  Please click here to see the Mint State Restoration directions for use.