.999 Silver Coins Spotting/Hazing Almost Instantly in My House

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by NovembersDoom6, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. Hello,

    So I've started collecting coins over the past few months. I've ran into a bit of an issue and was wondering what you guys think may be causing it.

    I have a few .999 silver bullion coins, like Silver Eagles, Libertads, and Chinese Pandas. I've only had them for a few weeks or a couple months at most. I've had them in capsules sitting on a display shelf in my bedroom. I've noticed that already, within just a few weeks, all of them (some worse than others) have started developing some spotting and hazing. On some, it's really noticeable and definitely makes them worth significantly less. This isn't caused by fingerprints, though they seem to be developing a grayish or whitish haze that causes fingerprints to show up that were already on the coins and were previously not really noticeable. This hazing looks different than regular milk spotting, and it's ruining the coins.

    I have three culprits: cigarette smoke, moisture, and heat. I can't think of any other causes that would be present in my home. What else might be causing this?

    My mother-in-law smokes in the house, a lot. Like, a loooot a lot. Her house, her rules, yadda yadda. I don't have any control over her smoking in the house, until my husband and I can buy our own place in a couple years hopefully. Till then, heavy cigarette smoke will definitely be present in the house. She doesn't smoke in the bedroom near the coins, but it could still be causing this heavy, unsightly sort of hazing. Thoughts on this culprit?

    Then there's heat. Up until this week it's been quite warm where I live, well up in the 80s and 90s since I've had these coins. My house does not have central AC. We have window units, including one in the bedroom. Which we used when it was hot, but still, the bedroom stayed quite warm. Probably warmer than it should have been, but our room was never extremely hot.

    And the moisture. I think this is a possibly a big factor. The window unit probably draws in too much water and moisture. I don't have a way to measure the humidity in the room, but I know it's high. I live in a very high-humidity area and no matter what, it's always very humid in my house, with the window units probably contributing a lot to it.

    So, what do you guys think? Anything else that may be causing it? What should I do? Try to store them in something completely airtight? Because capsules and TPG slabs, for example, aren't. Any help at all on this would be greatly appreciated. It's been really disappointing, but I'm learning from my mistakes and trying to change the way I store my coins from here on. Or I might just hold off on buying higher-premium silver altogether until my environment is better-suited for them.

    Thanks again for the help!
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
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  3. CoinBlazer

    CoinBlazer Numismatic Enthusiast

    fascinating... can we see pictures of the spotted hazed coinage?
  4. Sure, here are a few. First is reverse and obverse of a 2019 Libertad. Virtually flawless when I got it a couple weeks ago, now it's got this whitish sort of hazing starting to take over the reverse, and some spotting starting to develop on the front. Third pic is a 2016 Panda. Some of the scratches are on the capsule, and this coin already had a little bit of discoloration when I got it. But if you look to the right of the building, there's a fingerprint that wasn't visible before, and to the left of the base of the steps, there are some small white spots forming. I looked at both under various lighting and at angles when I first got them, and after I encapsulated them, they haven't been handled since. This is recent damage that I have just started to notice.



    Last edited: Oct 20, 2019
  5. thomas mozzillo

    thomas mozzillo Well-Known Member

    Air conditioners are supposed to remove heat and moisture from the room being cooled but not enough to protect your coins. You can search Coin Talk threads to see how others have dealt with this problem. First is to place your coins in the best quality air tight coin holders that you can buy. Place them in PVC free plastic bags and add silica gel desiccant packs in the bag. You can buy them here https://www.coinsupplyexpress.com/Silica-Gel-Desiccants.html or a coin supply dealer of your choice. For a more detailed method contact one of the moderators who know more about this than I do. @GDJMSP; @desertgem: @lordmarcovan; et al. Wait for more replies from experienced members.
    I store all my BU Silver coins in shoe box size non PVC plastic plastic boxes with renewable desiccant packets in the box and for good measure put them in in Space Vac bags and try to suck out as much air as possible with my vacuum cleaner.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
    NovembersDoom6 likes this.
  6. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Yes, warm humidity can make things like this happen more quickly.

    A window unit should be making the room air less humid; it sounds like you're in a generally leaky house. You know how the window units drip water from the outside part? That's water they're taking out of your inside air. If they're making it more humid in the room, something is wrong.

    Are you close to the Gulf by chance? Some of the most amazing humidity I've ever experienced was in New Orleans; our conference hotel put out ice-water pitchers on waffle-like coasters over half an inch deep, and they filled up by the end of the day from condensation off the pitchers, IN HOTEL AIR CONDITIONING. So, yeah, there's a limit to what a standard A/C can do for you.

    As far as the cigarette smoke, yes, that's a problem, too. You really need to find a better place to keep your coins -- but, more importantly, you need to find a better place to keep your lungs. But you know that already, just like you know that living with a smoker is better than being homeless...
  7. Yeah I wasn't quite sure how the AC unit would affect inside humidity. I guess it isn't causing the bad humidity, but it's still probably too humid inside. I may have to invest in a dehumidifier and keep it in one room, and keep all the coins in there. Maybe it would help a little. I've also heard of people buying silica gel packs and silver tarnish strips. I guess that's worth a try. As it happens, I'm in Mississippi quite close to the Gulf Coast, in the middle of what was once a vast, mosquito-infested swampland. Not an ideal environment for coins.

    As for the choo-choo train of a mother-in-law, my husband and I are planning on setting her up a detached suite sometime after we buy a house and then we'd disallow smoking in the main house. I myself smoke (usually outside. even as a smoker myself the thick, heavy air and the smell is too much inside) and definitely want to quit, but with all her smoking in the house it's kinda hard.

    Edit: Missed the other response above, just saw it. Thanks for the tips! I'm going to look into something more airtight for storage and probably buy some of the gel packs to keep in with the coins.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
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  8. Stevearino

    Stevearino Supporter! Supporter

    Interesting thread, and, IMHO, some great responses. One that I haven't seen in this thread but have read several times on CT is that there are some collectors who give their coins an acetone bath BEFORE placing them in a capsule. This might have prevented the latent fingerprint from showing up.


    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    It's always a bad idea to do anything even remotely like this with coins. And the situation/conditions you've described just makes it worse. Let me explain.

    I realize that a lot of collectors desire to have their coins out on display where they themselves can see them, enjoy them, and or show them off to others so they too can enjoy them. But doing that is simply a bad idea because it exposes the coins to all the things that can harm them - just like it is doing with your coins.

    Here's the thing you have to realize and understand - the very air itself is the number one enemy of all coins. This is because it is the air that contains all the things that can and will harm coins - oxygen, moisture, heat, and so many other chemicals and gasses and contaminants that the sheer number of them defies being typed out here. Literally everything there is in a person's home puts off gasses and most of those gasses are harmful to coins.

    So, if you wish to protect your coins so they retain their original condition you have to protect them from the air. And you do that by restricting and limiting how much air can get to them. Coin holders like the ones your coins are in is the first step. However, there is no coin holder that is airtight - not a single one. Not only is the seal between the 2 halves of a coin holder not airtight, neither is the plastic itself for all plastics are air permeable. That means that air can go right through the face of the plastic itself. So even if the seal between the 2 halves were airtight, which it isn't, air would still get to your coins.

    There's several other things you can do, other steps you can take to help protect your coins. The second step is to take those coin holders and put them inside another container that can be sealed like a Tupperware container. And inside that Tupperware container you put rechargeable silica gel packs to keep the humidity down as much as possible. And there can be no paper or cardboard products, or anything else that is not inert inside that Tupperware container with your coins. Then you store that container in a cool, dark place where the temperature remains as constant as possible. That's usually a closet that has no walls that face the exterior of the home.

    Those are the minimums you need to do to help protect your coins. There are additional steps you can take that will help even more like using various Intercept Shield products and then storing them inside the Tupperware container, or using electric dehumidifiers in the room where the coins are kept. Each of those will help even more.

    Now all of this means your coins are put away where you cannot readily see them. But that's what it takes if you wish to protect them to the best of your ability.

    As for the coins you have already and the haze they are developing, well you can fix that too. Haze is the very early and beginning stages of toning, but it can be easily and safely removed on coins like those you have - silver coins. Get yourself a product called MS70. Put a small amount in a small glass bowl or cup and dip and rinse the coins in that. It will remove the haze and cause no harm to the coins. Then, you will need to dip and rinse the coins in acetone. I explain the proper procedure for using acetone in this thread -

    Simply follow it and you'll be fine and no harm will come to the coins.
    thomas mozzillo likes this.
  10. Very helpful and informative. Looks like I've been making several key beginner mistakes already, but trying to learn and adjust as I go. Fortunately it was only a few coins.

    Will I need to take all the same steps to keep my other coins from toning as well, not just the .999+ silver? I know the pure silver coins are most susceptible to developing spots and such, but it seems these steps should be applied to everything else as well to protect them.
  11. desertgem

    desertgem MODERATOR Senior Errer Collecktor Moderator

    I would suggest seeing how much is caused by your house and how much before you obtained them. Take some newer 2010-current cents and use a steel or very stiff cleaner pad without cleanser chemicals and scrub the surface of the cent until it shines like a new one ( it is scratched, so use ones from change for them ) and lay it on the table and see how many days before it looks similar to the ones you show. It should show in just a fraction of the time of the encased ones. It is how "sacrificial coins work". Put them in a container like described above and when they turn color, replace and spend. As long as they stay bright , your coins with them are safe. IMO. Jim
  12. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator


    You are correct.
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