The new polymer five pound note - just how tough is it?

The BANK of England released a new fiver into circulation on September 13th and now the new, shiny, plastic notes are slowly starting to show up in the wallet of Britons.

Nearly a month after the notes were released, we decided to find out if the waterproof, polymer fiver is actually indestructible.

Now that the new fiver has been out for about a month, we decided to test just how durable it is

Now that the new fiver has been out for about a month, we decided to test just how durable it is

According to their website, the Bank of England engineered the new note in hopes of a cleaner, safer and stronger design.

Security features were added to the note to make it safer and harder to counterfeit. These include the see-through window and foil on Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben’s clock tower, which is gold on the front and silver on the back.

In addition to the security features, the note now includes former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill on the opposite side, replacing social reformer Elizabeth Fry.

The new fiver is the first of new polymer notes - 18th century novelist Jane Austen will be featured on the new ten pound note, which will be issued in the summer of 2017. The new polymer twenty pound note, set to be introduced by 2020, will feature English Romanticist painter JMW Turner.

When we asked people what they think of the new five pound notes, some commented and said that they did not find the bills to be indestructible.

“I beg to differ” said Alex Toon, who was able to rip his fiver. Others commented that theirs ripped, melted, or shrunk.

Sharon Fletcher said “Don’t leave them in your pocket when tumble drying. In the washer they survive, but the dryer just destroys them and they shrivel up”

Janet Taylor also is not thrilled about the new design. She said “(they have) been out for a couple of weeks, don’t like them, they can spring out of your purse or pocket if you just stuff then in, then they get really creased. Plus they can melt in the washing machine.”

We decided to test the durability of the new fivers for ourselves, here’s how:

1. Tested if it was waterproof

First, we rinsed it under the faucet to see if it really was waterproof. The water had no impact on the fiver, and it came out as good as new, just a bit damp. After drying it off a bit there was no evidence we had tampered with it at all.

2. Tried to stain it

We poured red wine and coffee on the fiver in an attempt to stain the material. The polymer held up to the test though, and proved that it really is liquid-proof. The red and brown colors simply rolled off of the polymer note, and once we rinsed and wiped it off, you could not tell that we had attempted to stain it.

3. Tried to tear it

The note is tougher to tear than it actually looks. When we tried to tear it with our hands, it remained completely unharmed. So we then tried to tear it with teeth to no avail.

4. Put it through a wash

We decided to put it through a wash after hearing complaints from some people that it would shrink or shrivel up in the machine. However, we had no issues at all. The five pound note came out looking as good as new, just perhaps a bit more clean.

5. Burned it

Last, we burned it. This was where we saw the real effects. Polymer, though strong and waterproof, is not heat-proof. We started just around the edges and it immediately began to shrivel up and melt, finally catching flame for a few seconds. After this test, it was no longer usable.

Michael Tennant.

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