Not electroplating, it's chemical plating!


1. One cup of vinegar
2. A glass or transparent bowl
3. One tablespoon of salt
4. An iron nail
5. Twenty feet of a tightly coiled copper wire
6. An iron nail


1. Put one cup of vinegar in the glass bowl.
2. Now put one tablespoon of salt in the vinegar and stir it well to mix it well so that the salt dissolves.
3. Now rub the iron nail with the steel wool to clean it well. Rub it till the nail is well polished.
4. Now put the well cleaned iron nail in the vinegar and salt mixer.
5. Then also put the tightly coiled copper wire in the mixer.
6. Now observe what happens. Check the nail and the copper wire for changes after 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, eight hours and finally after 1 day.


1. Over time a thin layer of copper is created on the iron nail.
2. Over time the copper wire should get more brittle and might just even dissolve a little bit.
3. If you touch the iron nail covered with copper the coating should come off on your finger.


This experiment actually demonstrates the practical example of the principles of immersion plating. The iron nail is immersed in a solution of metal ions. A thin layer of metal is created upon the iron nail. The mixer of vinegar and salt i.e. the vinegar salt solution actually makes it much easier for the metal atoms to transfer. In this experiment the vinegar salt solution or mixer acts as an electrolyte or the conducting fluid. In electroplating an electric current is used to transfer electrons between different metals. In this experiment it is shown that an electrolytic solution i.e. a conducting liquid fluid is just enough to create ion by releasing the copper wire electrons and then transfer them to the iron nail. But there is a big difference between electroplating and chemical plating. When a nail or a key is electroplated the coating stayed on very well even when handled. But when the nail or key is plated by using chemical the immersion plated coating comes off on the finger or hand rather easily. The reason behind it is that when electroplated, the metal atoms of the metal coating actually creates a bond with the metallic object which will be coated. But in chemical plating or immersion pleating this doesn’t happen. Chemical plating actually creates a layer over the metallic object which stays on because of the gravity. Because it doesn’t create any bond with the metallic object or in this experiment the iron nail the coating comes off rather very easily. In fact you may notice that at first the copper coating is created on only one side of the iron nail. If the nail isn’t turned to the other side that side won’t be plated. Just like electroplating, the copper source which is a copper wire in this experiment, looses electrons and forms copper ions that dissolves in the liquid conductor i.e. electrolyte. When the copper ions reach the iron nail they again gain electrons and form metallic copper. That metallic copper deposits over the metal of the iron nail.


1. Try this experiment to coat different kinds of metallic things such as screws, nuts, pipes etc.
2. Try this experiment using different kinds of sources of metals for coating such as coins, pipes, hinges etc.


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