Copper Nail - FamilyEducation

Copper Nail

by Trish Kuffner, author of The Children's Busy Book

This science activity demonstrates how chemicals change when they're combined.

Here's another activity that demonstrates how chemicals change when they're combined.


  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 10-20 copper pennies
  • Glass jar
  • Iron nail
  • Pinch of salt Scouring powder


  1. Have your child pour the vinegar into the jar. Add a pinch of salt.
  2. Put the copper pennies in the vinegar and let them stand for a few minutes.
  3. Clean the iron nail with scouring powder and rinse it thoroughly.
  4. Drop the nail into the vinegar with the pennies and let them sit for about 15 minutes. What happens to the nail? What happens to the pennies?
  5. After about 15 minutes, you'll notice that the iron nail is coated with copper and the pennies are bright and clean. The acid in the vinegar cleaned the pennies. It also combined with the copper to form a compound called copper acetate. The copper in the copper acetate is what covered the iron nail.