How do you identify if an old plastic flip has PVC in it or not?

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by ZoidMeister, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Hamlet Squire of Tomfoolery . . . . . Supporter

    Just a quick question. I have a bunch of empty 2x2 plastic flips in my bins of discovery. I have heard the horror stories of storing coins in PVC.

    So how do I know if these old flips have PVC in them or not?

    Thanks in advance.

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  3. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Hamlet Squire of Tomfoolery . . . . . Supporter

  4. Kentucky

    Kentucky Supporter! Supporter

    Bunch them up in your hands and cup your hands around your nose and smell. Smells like a shower curtain, PVC. Another way, take a fairly thick copper wire and burn it in a flame. While hot, touch it to a sliver of the suspect flip and then burn it in the flame. Green coloration - PVC.
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  5. Joshua Lemons

    Joshua Lemons Active Member

    Non PVC flips are much more brittle and less flexible than PVC ones. I always have Saflips or another inert flip on hand. I then transfer all new coins arriving in flips to them out of caution.
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  6. desertgem

    desertgem MODERATOR Senior Errer Collecktor Moderator

    Kentucky has the scientific answer, although a Platinum needle is better if you have one. From the appearance , as the photo tends to appear that some of the sides have stuck together a little is an indication of the pasticizers leeching our of the PVC ( which by itself doesn't cause problems, it is the plasticizers). Some that use such as SAFguard or SAF-something with flips means that there is still non-active PVC, but the very small amount plasticizers stay in and they are stiffer, but not inflexible like white pvc plastic pipes, connector, etc. that has no plasticizers. Make sure any acetone on a coin has completely evaporated or they may stick together as acetone reacts.

    And as long as your electrons are running sir, the SAF type of flips are excellent for long term storage, but if loosely shipping coins, it has been seen that any edge or surface can scratch or rub-line the coin, so pack properly, such as putting the coin in a polypropylene baggy about 2x2 from Walmart or 99store ( we call them drug bags locally) and put that in a stiff flip. IMO, Jim

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  7. LakeEffect

    LakeEffect Average Circulated Supporter

    PVC is soft and pliable.
    Non-PVC flips are hard and brittle.
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  8. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & passionate numismatist Moderator

    This is the quick n' easy answer.
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  9. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Hamlet Squire of Tomfoolery . . . . . Supporter

    Seeing that I can bend those old yellowing flips in half without breaking seems to indicate PVC, correct?

    Oh well, they'll make good storage for my collection of parking lot find Zincoln's. Not really going to hurt their value or condition . . .

    Kentucky likes this.
  10. LakeEffect

    LakeEffect Average Circulated Supporter

    Yours look like PVC, soft and puffy, but it's hard to tell from a photo.
    The non-PVC can be broken in two by repeatedly flexing back and forth, like you might do with a piece of sheet metal...
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  11. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    I expect PVC plastic would break eventually, too; it would just take more repetitions.

    I've had the non-PVC flips crack the first time I folded them.
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  12. halfcent1793

    halfcent1793 Well-Known Member

    From the photos, they all look like PVC. If they’re flexible, get rid of them.
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  13. Nyatii

    Nyatii I like running w/scissors. Makes me feel dangerous

    How do you know that it isn't the copper burning green?
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  14. As a few others have mentioned, your photo appears to be of PVC-based flips.
    Non-PVC flips tend to lay completely flat (before they’re folded), whereas the flips you’ve pictured appear to have slight roll or bend at the seams.
    As also Jeff B pointed out, even in a pack of new PVC-free flips, there will always be a few that will break when inserting a coin or folding them.
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  15. John Burgess

    John Burgess Well-Known Member

    kind of complicated I guess, but also kind of scientific.
    take a flip or a piece of a flip and put it in a glass with 2 tablespoons of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of water.

    If it stays on the bottom it is PVC. If it floats it is polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and PVC free.
    PVC sinks, Non-pvc containing plastics float.

    this doesn't work with plastics that are trapping air then PVC might float of course.

    usually in many cases, you can tell by feel, if it's soft an pliable doesn't break or tear without a lot of force, it's got PVC as a plasticizer.
    if it's hard, rigid and brittle, it's non-pvc.

    Not sure if the water test works for every composition out there, but it works with flips I've tried, or the windows on 2x2s if it was in question. if it's sinks, get rid of it.
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  16. desertgem

    desertgem MODERATOR Senior Errer Collecktor Moderator

    Clean copper in a flame produce a bluish color . Some people do not clean the wire well enough and most modern wiring has PVC ( plasticized and flexible) as insulation. The copper has to be down to the metal, and a little bit of PVC will dominate as green flame if it remains. jim
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  17. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    I like this idea, but some quick Googling indicates that both plastics have the same density (1.38g/cc).

    A bit more digging turns up this table listing PET's density range as 1.3-1.4 and plasticized PVC at 1.3-1.7. But the same company, on another page, lists flexible PVC at 1.1-1.35.

    So I'm not sure the float test will differentiate these two reliably.
  18. John Burgess

    John Burgess Well-Known Member

    I feel ya -jeffB. It works for me, but I follow the "when in doubt, throw it out" theory on a lot of things. Better safe than sorry. I've found this water method to work for me. but like I said, I don't know if it works on all compositions, or on how much or little PVC might be in the mix and the results. If it sinks I change it to something that I know is PVC free and be done with it, and if it's a new item i'm unsure about, like sticky window coin flips that float for some reason but should be PVC-free, I throw them out.
    I mean there's Acetate or polystyrene, Vinyl, mylar, a whole bunch of different materials. it's not really a catch all,

    Generally speaking if you fold it and it seriously creases sharply, or breaks along the fold it's likely PVCfree.

    if it bens and flexes and doesn't really crease at all, it's gonna have PVC in it.

    The PVC ones are just fine for short term storage/packaging, you just don't want to leave a coin in them long term. A couple months tops really and I'd say more like to or from a coin shop or sale only.
    -jeffB likes this.
  19. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Oddly enough, to get a good blue color in fireworks, you need copper and chlorine.

    Thanks for sending me down a pyrotechnic Googling rabbit hole, btw, didn't need that chunk of lunch hour anyhow. Now I know that you can't use indium to get a good blue flare, even if you can afford to burn it.
  20. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & passionate numismatist Moderator

    Me too, and not just as regards PVC. I throw out scuffy old flips or other people’s scrawly 2x2 holders regardless, and put stuff in fresh new flips.
    Dynoking likes this.
  21. Mike Thornton

    Mike Thornton Active Member

    JB. Curious the purpose of the salt? If the PVC sinks in salt water, wouldn't it also sink in tap water (fresh)? My thought, if the PVC sinks in salty water, it's specific gravity is higher then salty water, therefore it would also be heavier then fresh water too. Am I missing something?
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