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The Hotline -- Serious Education ... plus the most fun you can have in metal finishing


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July 14, 2008

My question is for chuck who last posted on this topic back in April. You said that you reclaimed gold from jewelry. I am interested in getting into this so I have been doing some research, but I have some questions.

I know when they are refining gold after being mined they use a combination of these five chemicals Manganese Dioxide, fluoride, Silica flour, Borax [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], and Sodium Nitrate to remove the impurities from the gold. Could you use these same chemicals when melting jewelry? How does this process work? How much of each chemical should be used? What do you use?

Also I was thinking of using an electric kiln capable of 2300 F, along with a graphite crucible, would this work? How many times do you have melt the gold to remove all of the impurities? Does the waste or slag eventually come to the surface and then it is easy to pour out or do you have to strain it somehow?

How do you measure the purity of gold? Where do you sell your gold when your done? What kind of price should I expect for an ounce of refined gold? (I know what gold is worth, but I am not sure how close to full price I would be able to get for it).

Any answers anyone can provide on this topic would be greatly appreciated. I intend to go to the library to do more research but if I could talk to someone who has actually done something like this it would help.

Garret Boyer
- Vista, California

July 14, 2008

Some pertinent information for potential cat processors. The large English company of Johnson Matthey supply 1 in 3 cars worldwide with cats. They indicate that in 1993 cats contained 60 g of precious metals but with new technologies this has been reduced so that now cats only contain 5 g of precious metals and this equates approximately to 3.19 g platinum, 1.04 g palladium and 0.78 g rhodium - so it looks as though if you want to get the most out of cat processing you grab the earlier cats most of whom will contain only platinum and palladium.

Bob Keen
- Palmerston North, New Zealand

July 14, 2008

1. I have some chemistry lab experience, including concentrated acids. I am very tempted to try my hand at recovering metals from cats. The info is available on the web, however, the chemicals required are, in fact, very dangerous. If you mess up, you will not get a second chance. Think boiling acid, fire, explosion - take your pick.

2. Friend of mine runs a repair shop; about 15 cats a week. He is currently getting $30 each. Is this a reasonable price? He works primarily on higher priced cars.

3. Because cats run at extremely high temperatures, the steel parts are high grade and not easy to cut. (I'm not talking about the pipes on either side, but the body of the cat itself.) You want a plasma cutter to work at speed.

Every step towards recovering platinum, etc. in a cat has a value:

A. Guy picks up cats from repair shops; he pays them X per.

B. He can sell them to a processor for X, plus Y for (1) the work and expense of collecting them and (2) developing his network of suppliers (the repair shops).

C. The processor must cut open the cats and remove the core (that's where the platinum is.) The processor can sell the core for X + Y, plus Z for .... You see where this is leading.

You have to decide where you want to fit in the process. The value of your part of the process depends on how much work you want to do, what you know (like chemistry), and what you are good at. (If you are good with people, you might do very well building relationships with owners of repair shops.)

Frank Richardson
- Ardsley, New York

July 14, 2008

I'll take the easy road .. what year did they start and stop putting the precious beads in these converters?
Actually it's a question of curiosity .. since no one has asked it yet.

Laura Shea
- Phoenix, Arizona USA

July 18, 2008

Wow, get a life.

If you read through this post and all the threads you will find that there are two pools of thought.

1. this is a chemical process that is dangerous, difficult and dirty and is a 'pro's only' game requiring much knowledge to avoid death and harm - like playing with VooDoo dolls or something...

And actually they are right. High temp acid and playing with chemical mixtures at any temperature is a great start to a bad weekend.


2. This is a basic process of extraction. The level you wish to extract to depends on the level of work & knowledge OR test & try you - that you apply.

Bottom line if you are happy with less recovery, or you are happy to concentrate the cores to the point that that you are comfortable with and learn as you go then that is a great plan. You do NOT have to use a complex and dangerous chemical process to recover these metals unless you need high yield recovery.

I liked the post that spoke to finding your place in the distribution chain i.e. sourcing the CCs. Then learn / test the next step and so forth. You do not need to break out the boiling acid to make a buck. start at step 1, get some cats and refine your process through the chain as you feel comfortable and safe. No chem degree required or magical explosions or secretive myths.

Yes, they are making a killing but only the ones that stay quiet, do multiple levels in the process and avoid what they are not good at - be it chemistry or people (Ted).

Suggestion: if you do not need cash but want to start a play just start stockpiling CCs. when you get better later and have more skills and contacts you can convert for cash or refine it to the next step of stripping the cores well. So do your 55 gallon drum but keep the drum & learn or sell it only once you know more about its real value. i.e. learn to buy cats, learn to safely strip cats, learn to compact the cores, refine...

Then if you decide the biz (or parts of the biz) is not for you you can sell your cores and cash out and probably make more because the metal prices keep going up. Take a long term view.

One last point is keep in mind the cores are dangerous from step 1. There are carcinogens (cancer causing agents) in exhaust and many bad chemicals - that why they are in the car. So you are dealing with some pretty bad radicals so be safe, wear breathing and other protection. Be mindful of environmental impacts and keep the cores well stored.

Imagine though if you bought CC for 5 years, stripped the cores, did a fast refinement to concentrate and then started doing the processing side.... or sell it as-is. That's when you cash in. Get rich quick? Nope. Get wealthy as you go - yip.

Jolly Roger

PS Ted nothing actually against you however I see your feedback and others in the business as being very transparent including mr CAPITALS. Its a closed poverty and scarcity mindset that tries to infect others with the difficulty you found learning it, instead why not try to help - don't outline problems but give better solutions so they can learn and grow.

Jon Decker
personal interest - Dallas, Texas
July 18, 2008

Hi, Jon. I don't engage in any business except the advertising revenue from this website, so I don't know what you mean about "your feedback and others in the business as being very transparent".

You may be right that my chemistry and people skills aren't good; still, they've been adequate to keep this site going since 1989 and, although I may be slow, I've learned that the most important thing necessary for a public forum is to not print ad hominem attacks. So we'll be happy to print more postings from you, but only if they talk about the topic rather than the other posters.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 19, 2008

I have been searching for company or companies that recycle auto catalytic converter to transact business with. company that buy complete cat converter or buy those that have been removed from the case, calculated in kg?
I get my goods from Europe, Africa and Asia. I want a direct dealer.

Collins Emeka Ali
wholesaler - Taunusstein, Hessen, Germany

July 20, 2008

I think you should look at what other products have Platinum in them there must be other applications that are not so hard to find electronics maybe?

L. Mims
Research - Brunswick, Georgia

July 21, 2008

just a quick note...your use of ounces and the confusion of value may be because the measure of TROY ounces for platinum is different from a standard ounce I believe

- Atlanta, Georgia

July 22, 2008

Hey Dale you said that you can ship a 55 gallon barrel full of CC beads to a refinery in CA. What's the name of the refinery?

Did you actually fill up a 55 gallon barrel full of the beads and sell it for $20,000 to a refinery in CA, or did you just hear from someone that you could sell them for that much. I called around to a few places and they say you can't get nearly that much for them. Please explain.

Garret Boyer
- Vista, California

July 22, 2008

I believe I know how, but it is dangerous. I have done this with gold, and believe you can do it with platinum. you will need to dissolve it in a hot aqua regia. aqua regia is made with hydrochloric and nitric acids. acids are very dangerous when you heat them. after you dissolve the platinum you can recover it by filtering out the acid through a coffee filter. gold appears as a white powder on the filter. I am not sure about platinum. the melting point of platinum is 1755 °C. much hotter than gold at 1063 °C I hope this helps and gives you enough information that you will be able to make a good decision on is it really worth it!

Dennis Misenar
- Bremerton, Washington

Ed. note: Regarding theft of catalytic convertors, see--

July 30, 2008

Hey, I got me some cat converters we found just hangin off the cars in the walmart parkin lot, and me and some of my buds here in the trailer park are thinkin of settin up an advanced precious metals extraction lab in my shed (thinkin of callin it "Hazmat Heaven") and I wanna know from you people what's a cheap easy way I can learn from one post, to get the $50,000 worth of palladium, platinum, titanium, uranium, and kryptonite and stuff. And don't ask me to do too much readin!

(No, but seriously folks, here's a message from a Firefighter/EMT/Hazmat Tech: You have no more business doing "do it yourself" metallurgy of this type than you have making your own fireworks or booze. Wait, what? Oh, never mind. Well, please at least warn the folks at 9-1-1 before you start. See you soon.)

Fred Weivraer
- Grand Rapids, Michigan

August 4, 2008

hey I'm touss in ga and want to know more about selling these cats I have in my junk cars! please do help who buys them and how much?

touss black
auto sales - morrow, Georgia

August 8, 2008

I am going to explain the easiest way to do this, However keep in mind that it can be extremely dangerous if you are not constantly paying attention. Chuck was the smartest and closest poster yet. First you take the contents of the CC whether it be beads or honeycomb and melt it. This can be done in a 30 gallon steel barrel with a crucible inside. You will have to crack the ceramic in a few places to accelerate the melt. It is best to use a large ceramic coated cooks pot so you don't have to transfer the liquid later. After the melt has cooled cover half of it with chemically pure nitric acid, cover the remainder with water, this makes the acid start to work. Next take it to an area far away from human traffic , the fumes and smoke are truly DEADLY. Put this on an old gas barbecue with a side burner and heat it . the acid will eat everything but gild and platinum metals . take what is left in the bottom of the pot to a refiner and they will refine it and pay you much more than you will get if you sell them whole. REMEMBER this is very dangerous but it works

Angelo C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
retired - St. Petersburg, Florida

November 12, 2008

Sorry folks had to say something on the subject, I don't normally write on forums just read them. Anyhow it's not anyone's place to say you shouldn't experiment with these suggestions, most discoveries are made from mistakes after all. But I will say: DO NOT LISTEN TO Angelo C
retired - St. Petersburg, FL.... NEVER ADD WATER TO ACID. If you add water to acid, you form an extremely concentrated solution of acid initially. So much heat is released that the solution may boil very violently, splashing concentrated acid out of the container! If you add acid to water, the solution that forms is very dilute and the small amount of heat released is not enough to vaporize and spatter it. So Always Add Acid to water, and never the reverse.

Dave tupps
- Swansea, Wales, U.K.

December 21, 2008

retired - St. Petersburg, FL.... NEVER ADD WATER TO ACID. If you add water to acid, you form an extremely concentrated solution of acid initially. So much heat is released that the solution may boil very violently, splashing concentrated acid out of the container! If you add acid to water, the solution that forms is very dilute and the small amount of heat released is not enough to vaporize and spatter it. So Always Add Acid to water, and never the reverse."

I completely disagree...let's pretend I have a 5 gallon pail with 1 gallon of hydrochloric acid in it. Now, I add another gallon of the same acid to the 5 gallon pail. I am only changing the volume of acid, not the concentration. Once weekly, at my place of employment, I must fill a 55 gallon drum with 10 gallons of hydrochloric acid and then dilute with 45 gallons of water. This has been done this way every week since the place opened in 1967. Never been a problem with it...

Chris Jones
- Neenah Wisconsin

Hi, Chris. If you add water to an acid which is already sufficiently diluted, it may cause no problem. But Angelo is correct about the principle, and it's the safe procedure to learn, and then you'll never have a problem wondering whether the acid is weak enough to keep you out of trouble.

When water and acid are mixed, heat is produced; this is called the heat of liberation. The principle is that some droplets of water are added to strong acid, you can have a situation where those droplets are surrounded by concentrated acid and as it begins to mix, the heat of liberation can be great enough to flash those droplets of water to steam and blow concentrated acid out of the mixing container. This isn't just book stuff, it's real stuff that has injured many people.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 21, 2008

A query to Chuck - Hi Chuck, you have been rather shy in coming back with answers but you may come back on this one.
I've carried out a literature search the results of which indicate that with the crucible furnace approach the temperature of the contents of the crucible must be such as to melt the precious metal under consideration for it to form a button of metal in the bottom of the mould. This means it takes a crucible furnace that can melt bronze if you want to recover silver or gold but you need a special crucible furnace that can reach above the upper limit of iron to at least melt the palladium which would act as a carrier metal for platinum which melts at a higher temperature. Does this not fit in with your description of the two metals being melted?
As I see it for any one who has, or can build a crucible furnace capable of melting bronze your still in the picture. Carry out a large scale fire assay approach and add litharge to the flux mix. The PbO is reduced to lead which acts as a carrier metal for the precious metals, then dissolve the lead (and the palladium will also go) out of the button with nitric acid leaving the platinum behind. If any of you readers try this approach please report back on the minimum amount of litharge you can use and don't be so damn secretive.

Bob Keen
- Palmerston North, New Zealand

August 22, 2008

... Iron, Steel, Tin, Zinc, Aluminum, Copper, Mercury, Sliver, Gold, Platinum ...

Yes, there is always danger in attempting to extract precious or semi-precious metal due to the heat and gas-release aspect.

All must be MELTED (smelted)to a liquid or semi-liquid state in order to separate it from all other metals/minerals/waste.

Different metals require different temperatures to melt/smelt/separate.

All metals give off varying degrees of toxic fumes during the smelting process.

Some metals must undergo multiple smeltings to be purified to a level which makes "recovery/collection" feasible.

What is the process for extraction/recovery of platinum from vehicle catalytic converters that makes it "risky" or "near-impossible"?

... just curious

.... G'Day !

... rch

Richard Howell
- Jackson, Mississippi

August 26, 2008

My, what a strange and interesting corner of the internet this is to have stumbled into.

Ted, you are truly a wise man replying calmly to a variety of wildly different and equally stupid comments in your own due time. Keep up the good work. As an outsider having come in this subject with an impartial point of view and having reached a conclusion, let me say to others before they post:

You can only profit from refining the platinum if you are set up to do it in a professional working environment, i.e. foundry equipment. This requires $millions. Forget it.

It is a risky criminal venture and you'll be making probably about $50 off of it. There are easier ways to scrounge up fifty bucks.


Ian Vollers
- Houston, Texas

October 13, 2008

I am trying to come up with enough platinum from an automobile's catalytic converters to build the stacks,cathode and anode for a 7 kw solid oxide fuel cell to produce electricity. Can anyone steer me in the right direction and method to obtain the elements that is inside the catalytic converter. Like how to separate the platinum from the other elements,and the ceramic that are found in cat converters. And further is it possible and feasible and cost effective?

William Perry
researcher - West Blocton, Alabama

October 27, 2008

I have a reactor for leaching catalysts same catalytic convertors process is simple and effective recovery platinum is 97% in this process we load pacol catalyst about 15 KG then add sodium cyanide 60 liter 1% after 2 h and 160 c platinum and other precious metals dissolve we recover solution on anionic resin after burning resin we have pure platinum then this platinum purified.

- Esfahan, Iran

November 21, 2008

I need to find the device that is used to identify which precious metal I have acquired. Some precious metals are obvious but, platinum,silver,aluminum, and zinc are hard for me to identify unless I already know what it is.

So if you know where to acquire one......please reply......if not sorry for wasting your time.

Dennis Klabel
peddler - Lexington, Kentucky

December 15, 2008

I was given some platinum shavings from my father in law, I don't know how much of it is pure or not but I'm having a hard time finding a place I can sell to. If anyone knows of a place it would be most helpful.

Travis Watkins
- hollis, Alaska

Gold Test Kit

December 19, 2008

I must add that thus far, it seems that some haven't even read the whole forum. Most of the new questions have been answered farther back. As for being informed and the morality of "stealing" a process, I think that you should read up and lean the do and don'ts of the process but in the end, simple or not, everyone should be allowed to experiment with these processes and perhaps learn a better way to extract these precious metals.

The real reason, though, that I am responding is if you check up about gas and other such fossil fuel emissions, you will learn that gold, platinum, palladium, etc... are found in these fuels and are released into the air upon burning. The cats actually catch these metal particles, adding to the cat's original metal content. This makes the cats more valuable than they actually started off as and this discovery had been made some 30 years ago. The process of extracting these materials was only partially aired on TV not too long ago where the spokesman of the company let slip that cats do the same filtering and collecting as his plant does through filtering emissions. This is why you can buy a $200 cat and 5 years later, sell it for about $100 (where it just seems to be an old piece of junk) The gentleman had shown a tray of blackish powder and stated that its contents were platinum and palladium (mostly) and was worth over 3 million dollars.

Think about it. You may be doing a small favor to the environment, but the refineries wouldn't be there unless it was absolutely worth it. You are in fact collecting these precious materials for someone else to make a lot of profit, even though the process is complex enough. If you can refine it yourself though the above mentioned process by the others, do so. Better to have the money in your pocket than someone else's. Good luck and be careful.

Mike Brown
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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