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Using gold potassium cyanide for hobby electroplating

February 10, 2011

I have bought an electroplating solution online for gold plating. The seller was very vague on what salt was dissolved in the solution. I have received it and I see there is potassium gold cyanide in the solution. I was trying to buy a cyanide-free solution.
So what I want to know is if this solution is very dangerous to use? Are there cyanide gasses released when I use this to electroplate?
I am a chemist, so I know my way around some very harmful chemicals, but I am going to use this as a hobby. I'm using no special system to take away potential dangerous gasses so I would really like to know if any are formed in this reaction?

Thanks

John Chang
hobbyist - Berlin, Germany

February 19, 2011

Although I don't support hobby gold plating at home, I will answer your question anyway. You don't mention if this solution is for brush plating or "deep" gold plating. What happens when you plate gold out of solution, almost all of the cyanide is oxidized at the anode, forming potassium cyanate, which is an organic. This formation becomes part of the bath. If you are using a brightener, a similar breakdown by-product forms because of the oxidation process. Because the metal concentration in gold baths or brush plating is so low, the current density applied is also low. There is no real concern regarding gassing as long as you keep a reasonable distance from the solution.

Mark Baker
process engineer - Malone, New York

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