What are Canadian coins made of?

Canadian coin 5 cent Nickel
Canadian coin 5 cent Nickel
Canadian coin – 1937 5 cents with nickel composition

An article on the intrinsic composition and magnetic qualities of Canadian coins. Learn about the intrinsic composition and Canadian coin metal content.

Nickel and ferrous materials (such as steel) are magnetic. Thus, most Canadian coins with a P (plated on steel blanks) and RCM (Royal Canadian Mint) mintmarks are picked up by the magnet.

On the other hand, American coins do not have a ferrous content. 

Canada has one of the world’s top precious metal reserves. The Canadian government utilizes this natural resource to produce silver and gold coins.

Today, Canada ranks among the top nations to produce bullion coins and commemorative coins.

Canadian coins less than a loonie (Canadian $1) have steel cores. In the history of Canadian coins, the dimes minted between the year 1968 and 1999 were made of nickel. In year 2000, all Canadian coins have 90-95% steel as an intrinsic (base) metal and plated with nickel, zinc or copper to add color. 

Newer Canadian nickels are now made from cheaper metals affecting their magnetic properties.

However, most Canadian pennies do not stick to the magnet because of their copper content. It is also the same with 1858 to 1868 silver and gold Canadian coins.

Numismatists find the interesting magnetic qualities of the Canadian coins useful when segregating a hoard of mixed coin with different currencies. US coins and most other coinages are non-magnetic.

All denominations of the Canadian coins, namely the 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c, $1, and $2, are mostly made up of steel, copper, and nickel in various percentage composition.

List of Canadian coins with composition

1 cents (penny)94% steel, 1.5% nickel, 4.5% copper plating or copper plated zinc
5 cents (nickel)94.5% steel, 3.5% copper, 2% nickel plating
10 cents (dime)92% steel, 5.5% copper, 2.5% nickel   
25 cents (quarter)94% steel, 3.8% copper, 2.2% nickel plating
50 cents (half-dollar)93.15% steel, 4.75% copper, 2.1% nickel plating
$1 (loonie)91.5% nickel, 8.5% bronze plating
$2 (toonie)outer ring 99% nickel, inner core 92% copper, 6% aluminum, 2% nickel
I am passionate about the historical, cultural, and artistic aspects of currency. I collect coins and banknotes from various countries and time periods, focusing on specific themes, time periods, or regions that I find interesting. I also love to study the historical context of the currency that influenced coinage and currency issuance.