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topic 13037

Reclaim Gold from Electronics


Q. Hello All,

This Question is for everyone who may have an answer, But, mostly directed to Mr. Arnold Hoskins and Mr.Tim Hamilton.

I work for a company that maintains a data center for a major phone company in the south. I'm a maintenance man/ Electrician/ computer repair/ jack of all trades. We are constantly throwing away old pc's, gold tipped plugs ,circuitry boards, etc... My question is how can I find ways to remove the gold plate from these items and reclaim it. The info I have found has not come from a non commercial site yet. Please let me know what you guys think.


Clark Chapman
- Brandon, Mississippi

Recovering Gold & Other Precious Metals from Electronic Scrap [Kindle Edition /ebook]


Q. I am looking for the same thing you are. What is the technology? It must be available and I suspect it is done with heat. HP is currently reclaiming many components of used computers. Please let me know any leads you might have.

Thank You,

Larry Lynes
construction - La Mesa, California


A. Please see letters 18889 and 771b for earlier responses to similar questions.

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


A. One way to remove gold is with mercury. Gold will dissolve in mercury. Then you heat the gold/mercury to remove the mercury. This is a very dangerous process.

Joe Whalen
electronics manufacturing - Enfield, Connecticut


Not only is it extremely hazardous to the environment, It's also illegal in the US.
Sure, it works to dissolve the gold, then you heat the mercury with a torch and the mercury evaporates leaving molten gold.
HOWEVER, then the evaporated mercury precipitates down into our drinking water.

James Fergason
- Portland, Oregon

August 22, 2008

A. You asked about gold recovery. Look at ishor systems =>
They have a system or systems for gold and platinum recovery that's only under 2000 dollars

Michael smith
- Gainesville, Georgia

August 2, 2011

A. You can liquify gold by setting it in 2 types of acid which are readily available.

Kevin Lee
- canada

Muriatic Acid

August 2, 2011

Thanks, Kevin.

Yes, aqua regia, which is a mix of nitric and hydrochloric acid will dissolve gold. There are proprietary substitutes for the nitric acid, like SubZero, that are less dangerous in shipment and handling, but they become just as dangerous once mixed with the hydrochloric acid.

But the thing is, folks, there's a lot more to recovering gold from electronics that just finding an acid that can dissolve gold. Further, the environmental organizations are united in discouraging home recovery of gold from e-waste as they feel it takes a wrecking ball to their efforts to contain e-waste and, by cherry-picking the valuable, it derails their efforts toward sustainable recycling. Just sayin'


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

February 13, 2012

A. I've seen many youtube science where just to pull the gold off the pins and other parts you would use hydrochloric acid. Put it on a simmer plate like a coffee maker plate for about 12 hrs and then use 4 parts vinegar to neutralize the acid. The hydrochloric acid eats the other metals that the gold is coating. Hope this helps.

Hydrochloric acid is the same thing as muriatic acid which is used to clean and treat pools. So go to a pool place; it's a whole lot cheaper than to buy it online. The strength is the same. It's based on the same thing as if you want a horse whip go to a porn store pay $27.00 or go to a pet store and pay $8.00 for the same thing so shop smart instead of throwing money away.

david pennock
- woodland California

February 14, 2012

A. Hi David. Thanks. Vinegar is acetic acid and it does not neutralize hydrochloric acid. You are probably thinking of baking soda. But readers need to be very careful neutralizing a strong acid: adding baking soda to acid produces a huge amount of fizz that both overflows and entrains the acid into little airborne bubbles like ginger ale.

I agree that we should try to support local mom & pop hardware stores, pool supply stores and pet stores if we can; not quite as sure about the local porn store though :-)

Still, the reason you go to a local store is not price; on-line purchases are cheaper, not more expensive -- although on some bulk items the shipping costs might erase the savings.


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

March 29, 2013

Q. I am a collector of antique bottles, and digging old tips for 35 years. Have found lots of broken jewellery with gold. I have been putting it in a jar of mercury, and now I want to separate the gold. How can I recover the gold without too much trouble. Cheers,ron

Ronald Hanna
- Sydney, NSW, Australia

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