Have you ever wondered what temperature a penny has to reach before it starts melting? We all know pennies as small copper-coated coins that are part of our everyday lives. But what happens to a penny when it’s exposed to extreme heat?

Will it maintain its shape or melt like ice cream on a hot summer day? Let’s find out!

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The melting point of a penny is approximately 1084°C or 1984°F. This is the temperature where the zinc core of a penny will start melting.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about a penny’s melting point. We’ll start with an overview of a penny’s composition and the properties of its metals that affect the melting point. We’ll then reveal the actual melting point of pennies from scientific sources.

Finally, we’ll describe what happens when you heat a penny using examples and illustrations. By the end, you’ll be a penny melting point expert!

Composition of a Penny

Understanding the composition of a penny is crucial to understanding its melting point. Pennies in the United States are made up of two main components: a copper plating and a zinc core.

Copper Plating

The outer layer of a penny is made up of copper plating, which gives it its distinctive reddish-brown color. The copper plating is responsible for the shiny appearance of a new penny. However, over time, this plating can wear off, revealing the inner zinc core.

It is important to note that the exact composition of the copper plating can vary slightly depending on the year the penny was minted. For example, pennies minted before 1982 were composed of 95% copper and 5% zinc.

However, due to the rising cost of copper, pennies minted after 1982 are made of 97.5% zinc and only 2.5% copper. This change in composition was made to reduce production costs.

Zinc Core

Beneath the copper plating lies the zinc core of a penny. The zinc core is responsible for the weight and structure of the coin. While zinc is a relatively low-cost metal, it is also much lighter and less valuable than copper. This is why pennies made after 1982 are mainly composed of zinc.

Interestingly, the melting point of zinc is significantly lower than that of copper. Zinc has a melting point of approximately 419.5°C (787.1°F), while copper has a much higher melting point of around 1,085°C (1,985°F).

This difference in melting points is an important factor when considering the melting point of a penny.

Properties Affecting a Penny’s Melting Point

Molecular Structure

The molecular structure of a penny plays a crucial role in determining its melting point. Pennies are primarily composed of copper, with approximately 97.5% copper and 2.5% zinc. Copper has a relatively low melting point of 1,085 degrees Celsius (1,985 degrees Fahrenheit), while zinc has a higher melting point of 419 degrees Celsius (786 degrees Fahrenheit).

The combination of these two metals creates an alloy that has a melting point lower than that of pure copper. This molecular structure allows pennies to melt at a lower temperature, making them easier to work with in various applications.

Strength of Metallic Bonds

The strength of metallic bonds within a penny also affects its melting point. Metallic bonds are the forces that hold metal atoms together, and their strength determines the resistance of a metal to melting.

In the case of a penny, the metallic bonds between copper and zinc atoms contribute to the overall strength of the alloy. The addition of zinc to copper weakens the metallic bonds and lowers the melting point of the alloy.

This allows the penny to melt at a lower temperature compared to pure copper, which has stronger metallic bonds. Understanding the strength of metallic bonds is essential in understanding why pennies have a specific melting point.

Did you know? The melting point of a penny can vary slightly depending on its age and composition. Older pennies that contain a higher percentage of copper may have a slightly lower melting point compared to newer pennies with a higher zinc content.

For more information on the melting point of metals, you can visit www.engineeringtoolbox.com.

The Melting Point of a Penny

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you subjected a penny to extreme heat? Would it melt like butter or remain unchanged? The melting point of a penny is a fascinating topic that has been the subject of scientific research and experimentation.

Let’s delve into the world of penny melting points and explore the interesting findings.

Scientific Research on Penny Melting Points

Scientists have conducted numerous experiments to determine the melting point of a penny. One of the most notable studies was carried out by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

They found that the melting point of a penny depends on its composition, which can vary depending on the year it was minted.

Before 1982, pennies were made primarily of copper, with a small amount of zinc. These pennies have a lower melting point compared to those minted after 1982. The reason for this is that in 1982, the composition of pennies changed to 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper, making them more cost-effective to produce.

According to the NIST study, the melting point of pre-1982 pennies is approximately 1,083 degrees Celsius (1,981 degrees Fahrenheit), while the melting point of post-1982 pennies is around 787 degrees Celsius (1,449 degrees Fahrenheit).

This significant difference in melting points is due to the variation in composition.

Melting Point of Pennies – The Data

Let’s take a closer look at the melting points of pennies based on their composition:

Year Composition Melting Point
Pre-1982 95% copper, 5% zinc 1,083°C (1,981°F)
1982 and onwards 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper 787°C (1,449°F)

It’s important to note that attempting to melt pennies is not only dangerous but also illegal. In the United States, it is illegal to destroy or alter coins for the purpose of financial gain. So, while it may be intriguing to explore the melting point of a penny, it’s best left to scientific research and not attempted at home.

If you’re interested in learning more about the melting point of pennies and the fascinating world of materials science, you can visit the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) website for further information.

Heating a Penny in Real Life

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you heated a penny? While it is not advisable to conduct this experiment at home due to safety concerns, understanding the melting point of a penny can provide valuable insights into the properties of different metals and their practical applications.

Melting Points of Other Coins for Comparison

To put the melting point of a penny into perspective, it is helpful to compare it with the melting points of other common coins. For example, a nickel has a lower melting point than a penny, requiring a temperature of approximately 1,455 degrees Fahrenheit (790 degrees Celsius) to melt.

On the other hand, a dime and a quarter have higher melting points, requiring temperatures of around 1,629 degrees Fahrenheit (890 degrees Celsius) and 1,667 degrees Fahrenheit (908 degrees Celsius), respectively.

These variations in melting points can be attributed to differences in the composition of the coins.

Did you know? The melting point of a penny is lower than that of a dime or a quarter, making it easier to melt.

Step-by-Step: Melting a Penny at Home

While it is important to note that melting a penny at home is both dangerous and illegal, understanding the process can still be informative. Here is a step-by-step guide to melting a penny:

  1. Ensure proper safety precautions are in place, such as wearing protective gloves and eyewear.
  2. Use a high-temperature heat source, such as a blowtorch, to gradually heat the penny.
  3. Monitor the penny closely as it heats up and observe any physical changes that occur.
  4. Caution: Do not attempt to touch or handle the penny while it is hot, as it can cause severe burns.
  5. Once the penny reaches its melting point, it will start to liquefy and lose its shape.
  6. Allow the penny to cool down completely before disposing of it properly.

Remember: It is essential to prioritize safety and follow legal guidelines when conducting any experiments involving metals or hazardous materials.

For more information on the properties of different metals and their melting points, you can visit Metal Supermarkets, a reputable source for metal-related knowledge.


Now you know everything you need to about the melting point of one of the most common coins – the lowly penny. A penny’s melting point lies between the temperatures of 1083 – 1091°C or 1981 – 1996°F. At this point, the zinc core of the penny liquefies while the copper plating remains solid.

Heating a penny at home easily demonstrates this phenomenon in action. The next time you find a penny on the street, you can appreciate the forces that hold this little copper-coated coin together – at least until it’s exposed to enough heat to melt its core!

We covered the science behind the penny’s composition and melting point as well as what the process looks like up close. Understanding concepts like metallic bonding and the different properties of a penny’s copper and zinc metals gives insight into why pennies melt the way they do.

This knowledge can be applied to melting points of other materials, like silver and gold coins. Make sure to bookmark this article for reference the next time melting points come up in conversation!

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