How to Copper Plate a Nickel
Copper plating is the process of depositing a thin layer of copper onto another metal, either for aesthetic or functional purposes. Copper plating can bring new life to an old, tarnished piece. In this article, I will cover copper plating a nickel, although the process could be scaled for larger objects.
Materials You Will Need:
- Copper Wire
- 6V Battery
- A Nickel to Plate
- Metal Polishing Cloth
- Baking Soda
- A Water Boiler (Anything that can boil water will do)
- A container to hold the plating solution
First, polish the nickel to be plated with the metal polishing cloth. This step is important, as the copper plate will only look as nice as the original nickel before plating.
Next, boil the water. Take the water just off the boil, and pour it into the container.
Gradually, add the baking soda to the hot water. It should bubble quite a bit, so add it slowly in increments until no more will dissolve.
Dissolve a small amount of sugar in the solution.
Cut two lengths of copper wire, and strip them to expose the copper. Connect one wire to the positive terminal of the battery, and the other wire to the negative terminal of the battery.
Place the other ends of the wires into the hot baking soda water. Bubbles should begin to appear from the wires.
Leave the wires in the solution until it turns a deep blue colour. This could take approximately 15-30 minutes.
Remove the wires from the solution. Now attach the nickel to the wire that is attached to the negative terminal of the battery. This can be done by simply bending the wire around the nickel. The important thing is that the wire contacts the nickel.
Place both wires, one with the nickel attached, into the solution once more. Let it run for 15-30 minutes before removing the wires.
The nickel should now be covered in a layer of copper. Use the metal polishing cloth to polish the nickel until it reveals a bright copper surface.
This can be repeated to deposit a more durable, thicker copper plate on the nickel.
Some Additional Information
This process does not work well with all metals. For example, the copper tends not to stick to steel or iron. As well, the copper plate may degrade over time. To resolve this, the item may be re-plated when required. This process works best at a moderate temperature (higher than room temperature).
How To Remove Copper Plate
There are two ways to do this. First of all, you could simply run the process in reverse, attaching the nickel to the positive wire. This will quickly strip the copper off of the nickel. As well, a mixture of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide will strip the copper off of the nickel.