Penny in His Nose Shows Inventor How to Stop a Cold

Mix-up between Zinc and Copper Leads to Discovery

Tucson, Arizona – October 8, 2014
Inventor Doug Cornell says he stumbled on how to stop a cold after he stuck a penny in his nose, thinking the penny was zinc.
“I hated getting colds,” says Cornell, “so when the zinc gel I had used for cold prevention was taken off the market and I started getting a cold, I almost panicked.”
The gel had side effects and in 2012 was gone from the shelves. “I felt a warning tickle in my nose,” recalls Cornell. “I needed something fast that could stop a cold.”
He racked his brain for a quick source of zinc. “I collected coins as a kid. I remembered pennies are mostly zinc. So I rubbed a penny in my nose. The tickle lessened, which surprised me, but soon increased again.”
“The penny couldn’t reach the tickly area in back where cold viruses multiply,” he says. “Besides, what if I couldn’t get it out?”
Scientists Test Copper on Cold and Flu Viruses
Then he remembered only the inside of a penny is zinc. The outside is copper. “What was I thinking?” he laughs. “It was copper touching my nose, not zinc. It shouldn’t have worked at all. So I searched online and found out – yes it should.”
A huge body of research says copper kills bacteria and viruses by touch, starting in under a minute, Cornell reports. “Many scientists have confirmed this in labs and hospitals. Who knew?”
Tests by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others show copper kills cold and flu viruses plus dangerous germs like MRSA. (It has not been tested on Ebola yet.) The EPA now urges hospitals to install copper “touch surfaces”, like doorknobs, faucets, and bedrails. Several hospitals did. Infections caught by patients dropped by half.
Based on his research experience while earning a doctorate, Cornell concluded copper can stop a cold after all. He also knew it is generally safe to absorb traces of copper, because it is in many foods and is necessary for health.
Personal Experience Gives Him Idea
So he fashioned a smooth copper probe that could reach the cold viruses. He rubbed it gently in his nose. Almost instantly, he says, the tickle was gone. The cold stopped completely.
That gave him the idea of a personal copper touch surface for stopping colds and other illnesses. He created a handheld instrument made of pure copper, he says, because tests indicate pure copper works best.
“It’s called CopperZap, because science confirms, copper zaps germs.”
It has a smooth tip to rub in your nose and a curvy handle to touch with your fingers. “Whenever your fingers touch copper you may reduce your risk,” says Cornell, “because 80 percent of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch, experts say.”
Relatives, Friends, Coworkers Try It Out
He asked relatives, friends, and coworkers to try copper when they felt a cold starting. They rubbed it gently for about 60 seconds in each nostril. All said they believed it stopped a cold or, if symptoms had already developed, made it shorter or milder, Cornell reports.
So in 2013 he started a company, CopperZap LLC, applied for trademarks and patents, set up, and hired two employees to start production and shipping.
“Since then we estimate it has been used several thousand times,” says Cornell. “Almost 100 percent of reports by users say copper seemed to stop a cold if used within 3-4 hours of the first sign, or reduce a cold if used within 48 hours, with no side effects reported. Some say it stopped flu and other illnesses, too.”
Seemed Weird at First
CopperZap employee Jen Rickard admits it seemed weird at first to stick something in her nose. “As kids we were told not to,” she laughs, “but I’d rather have copper in my nose for a minute than a cold in my nose for a week.”
Cornell’s first invention, in 1980, was the Cornell Solar Water Heater, chosen as the world’s best solar water heater by the 1984 World’s Fair, he recalls fondly.
“CopperZap is even more exciting,” he says, “because scientists say copper kills over 100 different disease germs, some deadly. It may have saved lives already. We will never know.”
Cornell may be right. Health System Review says, “Copper is the new gold standard for saving lives.”


To verify research, search terms like “EPA tests copper touch surfaces”. Wikipedia has links under “antimicrobial properties of copper”. See also
PHOTOS: Permission is granted to use photos at with link to or attribution to CopperZap LLC. CopperZap™ is a trademark of CopperZap LLC.
CONTACT: Doug Cornell or Jennifer Rickard, CopperZap LLC, 5151 E Broadway Suite 1600, Tucson AZ 85711-3777, 520-512-5474,
Dated October 8, 2014