If there’s one thing you can be certain of whenever you buy or find an ancient coin, is that the coins will probably (read: definitely) require some cleaning. These ancient coins, which are often quite valuable collector’s items, frequently have a thick encrustation from being buried for long periods of time – sometimes for a couple of thousand years.
While there are a variety of methods to clean ancient coins, the use of Distilled Water is a method that is very successful when it comes to returning the coins to their former glory. While it may take a little more effort to use Distilled Water, it is effort that is incredibly worthwhile when you see the results.
As a first step, it’s important that you go through your collection of uncleaned ancient coins and sort them by their visible condition. You can easily use three standards to sort the coins out into groups: separate those coins that show an amount of good detail away from the coins that show some detail, away from the coins that show no detail at all.
For the first 24-hours…
Once you have sorted out your coins into three separate groups, you must then place all three groups into a contained of Distilled Water for 24-hours. The use of distilled water here is important because it is definitely not the same as tap water. Where distilled water is wonderful for removing encrusted substances, normal tap water will do nothing. After you have left the coins in the distilled water for 24-hours, you will be able to remove them from the water and see what they look like. You’ll find that some of the coins will now be showing really good detail. You’ll be able to further improve this by rubbing them all gently with a tooth brush. After this, you can return the coins that require a little longer back into the distilled water.
For the next week…
Over the next week, you will be able to leave the ancient coins that still require cleaning in the distilled water for longer and longer periods of time. Between these periods, you’ll once again remove them and scrub gently at them with a tooth brush. One of the best parts about this entire process is that there really are visible differences each time you take the coins out. Once the week has passed, you can remove the coins and dry them with a towel. You can once again re-categorise them into the good details, average details and worst details groups again. From here, your method will change.
After the first week…
After the first week of soaking the ancient uncleaned coins in distilled water, you will switch to soaking them in Olive Oil. Avoid using Extra Virgin Oil, because better results come from using normal olive oil. On the best coins, use pure olive oil for soaking. On the group of coins with an average amount of detail, use a solution consisting of olive oil with half a teaspoon of lemon juice. And on the third group with the worst visibility, use a solution containing olive oil and a full teaspoon of lemon juice. Give both solutions a good stir so that they’re mixed properly before putting the coins into them. Leave the coins in these solutions for the next three weeks, making sure to check them regularly. Over this time you will find that the olive oil will go green and thicken with muck, but this is a good sign when it comes to your coins. It also means that you need to change the solution, while cleaning the coins off in distilled water with a toothbrush before placing them into the new olive oil solution.
At this stage, you should have started to see some good results. Once the month is passed, clean all the coins with a toothbrush and distilled water once more. You can probably also pick off the dirt and encrusted substances from the coins with a tooth pick or other small instrument. A magnifying glass will be very useful to help you do this, without causing unnecessary damage to the coin’s surface.
Should needs be, you can either repeat the entire process with any coins that require more cleaning, or resort to something more radical. However, you can be guaranteed that you will have some fine looking coins restored to excellent condition after using this method on them. Just another use for distilled water that proves its usefulness and application in a wide variety of industries and projects.