What is Canadian Money Made Of | A Complete Guide


Have you ever wondered what Canadian money is made of?

If you are like most people, well you probably haven’t then! But if you are like me and you were in fact wondering this, well then you’ve come to the right place.

The purpose of this article is to give you, the readers, a chance to learn more about our great nation’s Canadian currency. Not only will this article look at the most recent composition of each Canadian coin, but it’ll give you the historical compositions of these denominations as well.

If you’re just here for a good time but not a long time, no worries, directly below here I’ve included a table for you as a quick overview of each denomination and it’s current composition.

What is Canadian Money Made Of?

Canadian MoneyComposition
Penny94% Steel, 1.5% Nickel, 4.5% Copper
Nickel94.5% Steel, 3.5% Copper, 2% Nickel
Dime92% Steel, 5.5% Nickel, 2.5% Copper
Quarter94% Steel, 3.8% Nickel, 2.2% Copper
LoonieSteel, Brass Plating
ToonieSteel, Nickel Plating, Aluminum Bronze, Brass Plating
Paper MoneyPolymer

The Penny, Nickel, Dime and Quarter are all made with Steel, Nickel and Copper. The Loonie is composed of Steel with Brass plating. The Toonie is composed of Steel with Nickel plating as the outer ring and Aluminum Bronze and Brass plating as the inner core. Finally, Canadian Paper notes are made with Polymer.

If you have a little more time and are interested in learning more about the historical composition of the Canadian currency, then I’d suggest reading through each section below to get a more comprehensive overview of how the makeup of Canadian money has changed over time.


Composition of the Penny

The current composition of the Canadian Penny is 94% Steel, 1.5% Nickel and 4.5% Copper.

Current Composition of the PennyFirst Introduced Still Legal Tender?
94% Steel, 1.5% Nickel, 4.5% Copper1858Yes*
* While Pennies are still legal tender, businesses do not have a legal obligation to accept them.

Related Article by the Financial Geek: 5 Places to Cash in Canadian Pennies

Historical Composition of the Penny

YearsComposition
2000–2012 *94% steel, 1.5% nickel, 4.5% copper plating
1997–199998.4% zinc, 1.6% copper plating
1982–199698% copper, 1.75% tin, 0.25% zinc
1980–198198% copper, 1.75% tin, 0.25% zinc
1978–197998% copper, 1.75% tin, 0.25% zinc
1942–197798% copper, 0.5% tin, 1.5% zinc
1920–194195.5% copper, 3% tin, 1.5% zinc
1876–192095.5% copper, 3% tin, 1.5% zinc

Composition of the Nickel

The current composition of the Canadian Nickel is 94.5% Steel, 3.5% Copper and 2% Nickel.

Current Composition of the NickelFirst Introduced Still Legal Tender?
94.5% Steel, 3.5% Copper, 2% Nickel1858Yes

Historical Composition of the Nickel

YearsComposition
2003–present94.5% steel, 3.5% copper, 2% nickel plating
1999–200394.5% steel, 3.5% copper, 2% nickel plating
1990–2001, 200675% copper, 25% nickel
1982 – 198975% copper, 25% nickel
1965–198199.9% nickel
1953–1964Chrome plated steel (1953–1954) 99.9% nickel (1955–1964)
1946–195299.9% nickel (1946–1951)Chrome plated steel (1951–1952)
1942–194588% copper, 12% zinc (1942–1943)Chrome plated steel (1944–1945)
1937–194299.9% nickel
1922–193699.9% nickel
1911–192192.5% silver, 7.5% copper (1911–1919)80% silver, 20% copper (1920–1921)
1902–191092.5% silver, 7.5% copper
1858–190192.5% silver, 7.5% copper

Composition of the Dime

The current composition of the Canadian Dime is 92% Steel, 5.5% Nickel and 2.5% Copper.

Current Composition of the DimeFirst Introduced Still Legal Tender?
92% Steel, 5.5% Nickel, 2.5% Copper1858Yes

Historical Composition of the Dime

YearsComposition
2000–present92.0% steel, 5.5% copper, 2.5% nickel plating
1979–199999.9% nickel
1969–197899.9% nickel
196899.9% nickel (172.5M), 50% silver, 50% copper (70.4M)
196750% silver, 50% copper (30.6M)80% silver, 20% copper (32.3M)
1920–196680% silver, 20% copper
1910–191992.5% silver, 7.5% copper
1858–191092.5% silver, 7.5% copper

Composition of the Quarter

The current composition of the Canadian Quarter is 94% Steel, 3.8% Nickel and 2.2% Copper.

Current Composition of the QuarterFirst Introduced Still Legal Tender?
94% Steel, 3.8% Nickel, 2.2% Copper1870Yes

Historical Composition of the Quarter

YearsComposition
2000–present94.0% steel, 3.8% copper, 2.2% nickel plating
1968–199999.9% nickel
1967–196850% silver, 50% copper
1953–196780% silver, 20% copper
1920–195280% silver, 20% copper
1910–191992.5% silver, 7.5% copper
1908–191092.5% silver, 7.5% copper

Composition of the Loonie

Canadian Loonies, first introduced to Canadians in 1987, are made of Steel with Brass plating.

Current Composition of the LoonieFirst Introduced Still Legal Tender?
Steel, Brass Plating1987Yes

Historical Composition of the Loonie

Prior to 2012, the Loonie was made with 91.5% Nickel and 8.5% Bronze plating.


Composition of the Toonie

The outer ring of the Canadian Toonie is composed of Steel with Nickel plating while the inner core is composed of Aluminum Bronze with Brass plating.

Current Composition of the ToonieFirst Introduced Still Legal Tender?
Steel, Nickel Plating, Aluminum Bronze, Brass Plating1996Yes

Historical Composition of the Toonie

Prior to 2012, the Toonie was made with 99% Nickel as the outer ring. The inner core was made with Aluminium Bronze composed of 92% Copper, 6% Aluminum and 2% Nickel.


Composition of Canadian Paper Money

The current composition of Canadian Paper money is 100% Polymer. According to the Bank of Canada, Polymer is a better, smoother and more durable material than cotton, which was the what Canadian paper notes were previously composed of.

Source

Current Composition of Canadian Paper MoneyFirst Introduced Still Legal Tender?
100% Polymer1813-1815Yes

Historical Composition of Canadian Paper Money

Prior to 2011, Canadian paper money was made with cotton.


Conclusion

And there you have it! The most recent and historical composition of Canadian money for each denomination.

Hopefully now you have no question about what money is made of and you’ve been able to find the answers to all your questions throughout this article.

I do plan to continually update this article so it can be used as a helpful resource for years to come, so if you know of any updates that have not yet been made within the article, feel free to contact us here so we can get things updated.

Don’t be shy! I don’t bite. The more up to date this article is the better, so trust me when I say I won’t be offended.

Geek, out.

Noel

Noel is the founder and main contributor for his blog - Noel's passion for personal finance has helped him amass over 600k readers to his Financial Geek blog.

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