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topic 7347

Which Juice Cleans Pennies Best?


Q. My name is Steven and I am doing a science fair project on which juice cleans pennies best. I am using apple, lime, orange and tomato juices. The tomato juice seems to do the best job. I think the reason is the acid in the tomato juice is this the reason or is there another one? Thanks--Steven

Steven S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Fort Wayne, Indiana


A. Hi, Steven. No, I don't think that's why the tomato juice worked well. Was this juice that you squeezed from a tomato yourself, or that you got from a can or bottle? If the latter, please read the ingredients and I bet you will see salt listed. Maybe your experiment should be to test fresh-squeezed tomato juice against bottled?

Please see our FAQ on Cleaning Pennies, which I think will answer all your questions. Good luck with the science fair.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Hi Steven. I think the reason tomato juice works is because it is sort of acidic. All fruits and fruit juices are acidic. It may also look like tomato juice works but it might also be because tomato juice is red and it gives the penny a red tint and that makes it look shinier.

Minh P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Savannah, Georgia


A. My son did the experiment and he said vinegar and salt did the best job.

Rose Matthews
- Louisville, Georgia


Q. My name is Andrea. I heard that the best juice is orange juice. But I guess tomato juice is better. Will someone try that out and see what cleans juice or tomato juice? Thanks. Cause I'm doing a science fair project on this......holla!

Andrea [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Louisville, Kentucky


thumbs up signI think that that 'someone' is supposed to be you, Andrea :-)

You will ruin your science fair project if you practice "junk science" by trying to make your results match someone else's instead of just being your results.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. I think that it works the best because of the acid

Erika Welton
- Canada

Ed. note: Please see our F.A.Q. on this subject

January 5, 2010

Q. Hi! my name's Linda. I am working on a science fair project on what juice cleans pennies best. So you guys say tomato juice, huh? let me know!

Linda s [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- ft Wayne Indiana

January 5, 2010

A. Hi, Linda. No, you let us know what juice cleaned your pennies best. If you try to get the "right" answer, what will happen is you will talk yourself out of writing down what you actually saw for yourself -- and that's not science, that's the poison called "junk science". Whatever works best in your experiment works best and is the right answer.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

(for Kindle)
Unforgettable Experiments
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January 26, 2010

Q. Why don't you try grapefruit juice? Tell me how it works out. I'm in seventh grade. What grade are you in?

Anthony C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Hollister, California

May 8, 2010

Q. My daughter is in fourth grade and is doing a science project on "Which juice cleans a penny better?" she is using orange juice, apple, and cranberry juice but she's having a hard time finding simple definitions for their ingredients. Can anyone help?

Marshall Clarke
- Miami, Florida

May 9, 2010

A. Hi, Marshall. Fruit juices are complex mixtures of hundreds or thousands of different molecules or compounds. While we may guess that citric acid is an important material in fruit juices, and it gets some of the credit for the tarnish removal, I'm not confident that your daughter is going to make a lot of useful progress taking this tack.

She might measure the pH of the 3 juices and see if she can correlate it to the tarnish removal power of the juice. But in any case, careful recording of observations is probably what it's really about.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

October 2, 2014

Q. My son is doing a project on What cleans pennies best? His Hypothesis was orange because of the amount of citric acid in has in it. He also gonna try pineapple juice and apple juice

Ayesha asaleem
- Philadelphia Pennsylvania

October 2014

A. Hi Ayesha. It sounds like a viable hypothesis that orange juice will clean pennies better than pineapple juice or apple juice except where he says "because of the amount of citric acid in it". Does he know how much citric acid is in orange, pineapple, and apple juice? Does he know as fact that citric acid is a good cleaner? Is it possible that something else in orange juice causes its cleaning power? If the apple juice or pineapple juice cleans better, what will he write?

I think good lab practices like careful gathering and dating of observations, plus not making overly broad claims, are ingredients in a successful project. Good luck


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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