Copper plating using vinegar

Metal items are gradually plated with copper in vinegar

Scientific name: Copper plating metal items electrochemically


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Wear lab gloves and eye protection.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

Cu2+ + 2 e- → Cu 2 H2O - 4 e- → O2 + 4 H+

Step-by-step instruction

  1. Pour about 50 - 100 ml of vinegar into a beaker.
  2. Connect a copper wire or stripe and a metal item (spoon, nail, key or someone else) to a DC power supply (5V) using wires. Copper should be connected to the positive terminal, and the item - to the negative terminal of the power supply.
  3. Secure the copper electrode and the metal item in the beaker. Make sure, that the electrodes don't touch.
  4. After about 15 minutes remove the metal item from the solution. A layer of copper is formed on the metal surface.

Scientific background

Copper dissolves in the solution forming Cu2+ ions under the action of an electric current. Reduction of copper ions occurs on the surface of the metal items. Thus the copper layer is formed on the metal surface.

Vinegar solution becomes blue because of the presence of copper ions.


Published on 09 September 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst