PVC Damage - How to Remove It

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Abbysunder, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. Abbysunder

    Abbysunder Member

    I'm sure we can all agree on one thing - PVC is cruel! If there is any obstacle in coin collecting I hate the most, it is encountering PVC Damage. I'm going to talk about PVC Damage and how to prevent it.

    What is PVC Damage?

    Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC is an additive used to make plastics softer and more flexible. It is in plastic flips and those plastic sheets that are put in binders. I don't recommend using coin flips, and if you are going to put your coins in a binder, put them in 2x2 cardboard holders first! If you have a very expensive coin, go the extra mile and get a hard, round case for it. PVC only exists in soft plastics.

    What Does PVC Look Like? How Do I Remove It?

    PVC Damage can be a blue-ish green, gray or white color. Copper is most vulnerable, followed by silver, gold or platinum (Susan Headley, coins.about.com). If you see PVC on your coins, throw away all plastics that touched it. Keep those coins away from your collection so it won't spread. If nothing is done about the PVC, it will eat away the metal of the coin until it has destroyed the coin. Here is what I do to remove PVC:

    -Use Acetone (found in most nail polish removers. Use gloves and eye protection)
    -Soak the coin(s) in acetone for 24 hours.
    -After the coins have soaked, gently rub a Q-tip (without plastic) on the damaged areas.
    -If the PVC doesn't come off, try again with more force, but be careful not to damage the coin more.
    -If the PVC still doesn't come off, soak for another 12 hours. The next time it should come off.

    If Your Coins Were Exposed to A Coin With PVC, Clean Them Anyway!

    A few days ago I was looking at a few of my Indian Head Cents when I noticed 3 had PVC. The next day when I was cleaning them, just in case I cleaned the other sides. Just as much green showed up on the Q-tip on the PVC infected side then on the reverse. Just because you can't see the PVC doesn't mean it is not there.

    If anyone else wants to add anything I didn't mention, please do so in the comments.
    *Information taken from: coins.about.com/od/caringforcoins/f/pvc_damage_faq.htm
    SapphireSilver likes this.
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  3. Abbysunder

    Abbysunder Member


    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

  5. Paul M.

    Paul M. Well-Known Member

    No! Don't rub the coin! You're in danger of spreading around any particulates on the coin and causing hairlines.

    Use pure acetone. Read the link @GDJMSP posted.
    SapphireSilver and Smojo like this.
  6. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    Wrong, PVC is a hard brittle plastic. An additive or plasticizer is added to PVC to make is soft and pliable. This plasticizer can leach back out of the PVC plastic over time and that is what gets on your coins. This is called "PVC residue". (It doesn't have PVC in it, it is called that because it is a residue that leached out of the PVC.)

    PVC is sometimes used as a hard plastic as well in its unplasticized form. Also there are plastics that are natually soft and do not contain plasticizers or PVC.

    PVC residue can be these colors, PVC DAMAGE is an etched surface seen on the coin after the PVC residue has been removed. PVC residue can be removed by the use of acetone, but PVC damage can NOT be removed or fixed.
    Paul M. likes this.
  7. Abbysunder

    Abbysunder Member

  8. Searcher64

    Searcher64 Member

    I would not use a Q tip to push the PVC off the coin, especially a proof coin. The cotton of the Q tip will scratch the coin. I would use something else that has no natural fibers. Blow drying [low heat] is better than a cloth, and always hold the coin from it's edge. PVC is bad. Dirt and other foreign things are as worse, like body oil, glues, and sugar.
  9. David Allen

    David Allen Member

    Ok, so the plastic sheets in my coin folder have PVC in it? How can the coins be displayed without slabbing?
  10. SuperDave

    SuperDave Free the Cartwheels!

    Buy sheets that don't contain PVC. They're common from numismatic suppliers.
  11. David Setree Rare Coins

    David Setree Rare Coins Well-Known Member

    I use a standard triple bath of lab grade acetone.

    I don't see any use in a long soak or any mechanical cleaning when removing PVC residue. if there is a powder left on the coin after the bath, the coin is bound to have serious problems.

    A double bath will still leave contamination on the coins and a single bath might work if one changes the acetone after every coin.
  12. J Robbins

    J Robbins New Member

    Please don't ruin silver coins by following the advice in this article (which plagiurizes a Spruce Crafts article by hobbyist Susan Headley).
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