Up until now, Copper Bugs have had only three choices regarding how to rid themselves of their pesky unwanted piles of zinc pennies. First, they could attempt to return them to the bank which - while offering convenience - entails them having to endure the withering supercilious glare of the haughty tellers who front more attitude than Roseanne Barr during the singing of the National Anthem. Second, they might - while incurring an outrageous 8.9% charge for the privilege - feed them into the Coinstar machine across the street; whichever is easier.
Or third, the final alternative would be to do what Ernest Milton used to do. What Ernie - a boyhood pal of mine and avid devotee of realcent in his adult years - used to do was to sneak onto Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Approximately 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Yucca Mountain is the site of the proposed Nuclear Waste Depository, a project temporarily mothballed by the current administration.
Ernie would, while surreptitiously avoiding the stealthy surveillance of the geostationary spy satellite hovering over nearby Area 51 as he was simultaneously dodging any errant missiles - most likely multiple-independently-targetable-reentry vehicles - fired from neighboring Nellis Air Force Base bombing range, sneak onto the premises to pour his unwanted bags of zincs down one of the honeycombed-bottomless shafts that comprise the warren of the labarynthine complex.
Unfortunately for Ernie, he had suffered from congenital deafness since childhood, and his hearing loss was so gravely affected that he was incapable of hearing shrill piercing sounds which might signal the approach of something wicked this way comes which led to adverse consequences during one of his dumping runs. He is beside himself now.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could just avoid the hassle involved with all of this? If we could, instead of ridding zincs, rid ourselves of the problem of ridding zincs? Could it be that it wouldn't be an insurmountable problem, if we just attacked it from a different angle? What if we could think of a good reason to keep them?
So why don't we look at this issue from the other side of the coin, so to speak? Can there possibly be any carefully-considered reasons to hold onto our piles? What is zinc good for? Zinc plays a role in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is required for the catalytic activity of nearly one hundred enzymes, and it is necessary for the body's immune system to work properly.
Zinc deficiency can cause frequent infections, hypogonadism and loss of hair (a problem most men would prefer to avoid, just ask any bald eunuch), poor appetite, problems with the sense of taste and smell, slow growth, trouble seeing in the dark, various skin lesions, and impaired wound healing.
Medicinal zinc peroxide - a mixture of zinc carbonate, zinc hydroxide, and zinc peroxide - is useful as a topical disinfectant, an astringent, and can even be used as a deodorant. Hemorrhoid medications contain zinc - which leads one to surmise that you could just scotch-tape zinc pennies to your butt cheeks to accomplish the same effect - but then again, that would be a pain in the ass, wouldn't it?
Dr. Gatumbe Matasabongo, Chief Resident at the medical center on the campus of the University of Madagascar located in Atananarivo states "while presently it has not proven efficacious in the treatment of trypanosomiasis caused by intimate proximity (perhaps they should limit enrollment in animal husbandry classes?) with Syncerus caffer - the African Water Buffaloe - particlarly one stung by the genus of tsetse fly which is a disease spreading vector of sleeping sickness, nevertheless zinc shows promise in the treatment of a broad range of health maladies as there have recently been a series of strong, peer-reviewed studies of zinc gluconate that linked significant reduction in the duration of the common cold, as well as the severity of the cold symptoms such as sore throat, sneezing, coughing, and congestion."
So how then, does one go about processing the lowly zinc penny from its raw state to one that is more useful as a critical component of countless home remedies? That's simple. Merely head out to the garage and flip on the lights, revealing your well-stocked workshop - sporting more implements than Torquemada had handy to torture with during the Spanish Inquisition - and depress the power button of your industrial-grade 8" Dewalt Tools 3/4 horsepower bench grinder.
Listen to that puppy whine at 3600 revolutions per minute, brings a smile to your face, doesn't it? She can purr like a kitten, enough to instill envy and covetousness even in someone like Tim Taylor of Tool Time. Now, after donning latex gloves, unlikely to prevent traumatic amputation of your digits from accidental contact with the whirling wheel of death - but which will assist in keeping blood droplets off your pants - firmly grasp a zinc penny and hold it against the grinding stone (ooh, such pretty sparks) and simply proceed to powderize your stockpile of unwanted zinc.
Since it is not our intent to produce weapon's grade powder - which might be misused by certain elements - merchants of warfare - to construct a chemical/biological/explosives zinc bomb with an aerosolized release system which, if inhaled could cause irreversible cellular degeneration on a submolecular level resulting in maladaptive melatonin syndrome, creating a nation - when exposed to this deleterious precursor - of albino mujahadeen which would then proceed to blister agonizingly under the Taliban-baking sun of their sanctuary-providing Yoshi Baba mountain range in Afghanistan - we do not need to hydride the zinc metal into thin flakes and steam-oxidize these flakes into high-grade, finely-divided (<200 mesh), reactive zinc oxide powder. You can skip that step.
You may, however, with to employ safeguards while grinding your zinc. You may wish to don your inhalation-protective SGE 400 gas mask with a Drager NBC gas filter, with Technopro visor made of impact-resistant polycarbonate - which meet the requirements of EN 136 and are CE marked as well as being fully NIOSH approved for use with chemical agents - and should also consider including the integral PVC hood option, the overhood shroud of which covers the head, shoulders & upper chest eliminating the possibility of contaminates passing through the seal around the mask.
Of course, wearing a gas mask is cumbersome and can make you resemble Darth Vader, yet still, since exposure to inhalation of heated microscopically-sized airborne zinc particles can cause the development of rapid-onset metal fume fever - with symptomology manifested by a syndrome of fever, jaundice, chills, burning sensations, metallic taste, body pain, shock, an absence of urine output, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and collapse; and even throat irritation accompanied by cough - you may wish to observe the simple precaution of using a small oscillating fan to channel fresh air into your immediate environs. Don't forget to breathe shallowly with your mouth closed and lips tightly compressed.
So what kind of home remedies can we concoct from our new stockpile of powderized zinc? Well, sunscreen for one. Why would that prove useful? Well, after peak oil hits - with devastating consequences of commercial decline - and you can't find sunscreen anymore - in the haven of abandoned mercantile establishments at your local falling-into-disrepair-and-decrepitude shopping mall - you can make your own.
You have the powder, now all you need to supply is a precisely-measured amount of purified water, isobutyl stearate, glyceral stearate, PEG-100 stearate, glycerin, dimethicone NF, glyceryl dilaurate, PVP/eicosene copolymer, benzyl alcohol, DEA-cetyl phosphate, xanthan gum, disodium EDTA, and citric acid. You should have all that on the second shelf of your pantry, that's where I keep mine. If not, maybe you could borrow some from Nickelless.
You could then smear zinc oxide ointment all over your body, filling every nook and cranny, sensuously massaging the warm lotion gently across your skin in langourous caress as an epithelial protectorant so that when the NASA-predicted coronal mass ejections expected to peak in 2012 flare with unimaginable intensity and bypass our ostensible atmospheric defense system by sneaking through the hole in the magnetosphere that is four freaking times the diamater of the Earth - instead of frying like a kernel of Orval Redenbacher popcorn in a gigantic microwave oven during the approaching radiation storm that is projected to be of such seering magnitude that it will melt the ice on the moons of Jupiter, then maybe, just maybe... Uranus would survive.
The Earth is rapidly running out of resources, and Peak Zinc is approaching. It is estimated that at the current rates of depletion, massive strip-mining operations will exhaust our world supply of zinc in less than three hundred and fifty years, at which time zinc pennies would likely skyrocket in value. You might just want to hang onto yours then, "eh, Kemo Sabe?"