Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pennies From Heaven


With the rain and overcast weekend it has been a good time to pull out those coins I throw into a can when I clean out my pockets and roll them. It use to be I considered this "extra" money to blow on fun or nonessential things, now it buys another gallon of gas and a can of cat food.

You may notice many of these pennies have a silver whitish film on them. This is because after 1982 pennies are made of 97% zinc and 3% copper. If you remember pennies prior to 1982 were made of 95% copper and 5% zinc. The pre-1982 pennies would corrode to a nice green color. The post-1982 pennies end up with a gray whitish film on them. By the way for people from Baltimore when I say Zinc I am talking about a mineral not a kitchen sink.

The pre-1982 copper pennies would use about 145 pennies to the pound and the price of copper per pound is about $3.80 today. The post-1982 zinc pennies take about 181 pennies to make a pound and zinc price per pound is 91 cents. Even going to the cheaper version I understand it takes the government about 1.2 cents to produce a penny.

The United States is well blessed with Zinc mines so hopefully the government is buying Zinc mined here.

A disadvantage to the zinc pennies is about 21,000 kids a year swallow coins. There is a reaction between gastric acid and zinc-based pennies that may have a toxic effects of zinc absorption include local corrosion and ulceration of the esophagus and stomach, nausea, vomiting, hematemesis, and abdominal cramping. Click here for Zinc toxicity

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