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Recovering gold from electronics, page 10

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A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2020

March 14, 2012

Is heating up the circuitry with a stronger current a means of pulling the gold out?

Adam Warne
- Vancouver BC Canada

April 24, 2012

A. Last year I had a local gold buyer check out some gold jewelry left by my late mother. He said they were worth more as antique items than the gold they contained. Many were gold plated or gold tone w/o markings. I asked him about using chemicals and electrolysis to strip it off and he laughed. He showed me boxes of jewelry like that in his back room and said it'd take a pick-up bed full to recover an ounce by a competent certified recycler. He doesn't buy the stuff but collects it for faith-based charity to be recycled, giving the donors a receipt for tax purposes. He lets them conjure up the jewelry's value to fit their tax needs. Sounds like a more practical method to obtain some value from junk without spending money and time to try something dubious and dangerous.
I'm taking his advice to sell the interesting items separately and donate the rest, though out of curiosity plan to try the Radio Shack etching fluid and electrolysis method first on some. I already have all the needed components on hand so won't be out anything plus the two methods seem the safest to try. I may be in for a pleasant surprise or a total waste of time.


Bill Wilson
- Longview, Texas

July 4, 2012

Q. Hi out there,
I have about 650 lbs of pay phone circuit boards made by Intellicall. They are from the 90's & early 2000's. Each one is about 10.4 ounces. Would these circuit boards be considered hi grade having any precious metals etc? Thanks

Sam Belmont
- New York

July 20, 2012

Q. Has anyone used a non-toxic approach other than Borax to extract precious metals? I heard Sodium Thiosulfate as a chemical to do a solvent extraction (liquid-liquid) that is non-toxic and is a cost-effective process and can be purchased where photographic fixer or where pool supplies are sold. What is the reaction if any with e-waste; is the process two step and involves another chemical to get the gold from the solvent?

Ra Releb
- Largo, FL

October 7, 2012

Q. We have several old computers to disassemble. In refing gold from old computers, is it necessary to have all the pins off of the plastic before using the acid step? If so how is that done? We have tried it with the plastic and it just goes into a blob.

George Carter
- New Bloomfield, Missouri

January 7, 2013

I have hundreds of pounds of computer gold scrap. If I were to hire a company to refine some of it, what percentage is normal for them to take?

For example, I send 50 lbs of scrap and they refine 20 grams of pure gold out of it. How much would/should they keep as payment?

Thanks for your time reading and answering,

Nathan Tinsley
novice - St. Louis, Missouri

January 8, 2013

A. To all readers of this thread,

I'am a time served Engineer and Scientist. I currently work as the Technical and Quality Manager for a ISO/IEC 17025: 2005 laboratory.

Firstly, anyone who is looking for the proper methodology to extract the precious elements from electrical equipment, there are books for sale that specify the process. I am a strong believer in copyright laws and as a inventor, with several patents under my name, I respect the fact that you should not get access to someone else's hard work and research for free.

Not to forgo the fact that if you cannot afford a £50.00 book to learn the process, you cannot afford the equipment to carry out the process. Similarly if you cannot be bothered getting the appropriate books, you will not be bothered doing it properly, therefore should quit now at this point.

For the purposes of this post, I will be working in £'s (Great British Pounds/ Pounds Sterling) as it is what I am accustomed to and have used in calculations.

I used to extract gold, silver and platinum as a past time under my own auspices. It was simply for fun. I have now given up that hobby as parts are too hard to come across. A lot of people see this as a "get rich quick scheme". I could go into things in detail but I have calculated that to get £1.00 in gold you have to spend £4.00 on components, transportation, chemicals and consumables. The loss is compounded further by adding in the time taken to complete the task as well as the cost of equipment.

There is literally not economical method to produce precious elements from electronic components anymore as sellers are asking ridiculous prices due to the huge amount of hobbyists who have not carried out any research or proper yield calculations before embarking on their pointless endeavor.

I appreciate that "gold fever" is a hard thing to shake off, and many of you who read this will still be blinded by it. I cannot change your mind set but I would still implore you to research the chemicals and methods mentioned above very carefully and thoroughly due to the sheer danger involved.

For example some may opt to use Sulphur Dioxide to precipitate the Gold. To put this into real life risk, in my laboratory we use Sulphur Dioxide in our Neutral Salt Spray Test chambers.

The chambers that use SO2 are completely enclosed in separate "cell rooms" that are made from poly-Carbonate panels, held up by a stainless steel frame where the frame is resin coated.

The room is alarmed with SO2 monitors on the inside and outside of the room. If the SO2 level rises above the alarm threshold the room electronically locks (and is airtight) and a massive pump creates a vacuum in the room and the system is purged with Nitrogen. The only time an operator is allowed in the room is when the test is paused or stopped (which means the system is purged prior to entry) and when they are in the room they wear a fully enclosed HAZMAT suit with independent Oxygen supply.

Our safety system costs in the region of £20,000 per cell (which is only 8 ft by 4 ft).

When working with Aqua Regia or Hydrofluoric acid they are used in a large ducted fume cupboard with strong suction. The vapour from these chemicals are incredibly corrosive and prior to venting to the outside we have filters and scrubbers in place to protect the environment.

The acids will require careful neutralisation and the removal of heavy elements prior to disposal. You will need to know how to do this properly.

Whilst I cannot stop anyone from attempting this without the proper training I am willing to give FREE advice on the proper safety precautions prior to doing this. I would rather give up 30 minutes of my time to talk to you than you kill yourself by not appreciating what you are working with.

If you insist on doing this, please be careful. You likely have no idea the hazards that await you.

In close, if anyone in the United Kingdom (or even Europe) consider doing this, you are committing an illegal act under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive as well as UK Waste Management laws therefore are eligible for a custodial jail sentence up to 10 years and an unlimited fine unless you have been issued the proper license for waste management by a Local Authority/ Council (who will not grant you one unless you are competent, qualified and adequately funded/ equipped).

Ryan Murphy
Technical Manager, ETAS (U.K.) - Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

April 21, 2013

Q. My mother used to work in electronics and she saved all the clipped wire ends off of diodes and (?) that were gold plated. Now I have about two big hand-fulls of these that are gold plated. Are they worth anything and where can I sell them? Thanks for any help you have!!


Sandy James
single mom - Grass Valley, California, USA

June 9, 2013

Q. I want to harvest precious metals from electronics, I am fully aware of the dangers to myself, others and the environment along with hazardous materials collections and disposal. I want to shred the circuit boards and use electroplating with cathodes to collect the various metals, my question I am sure requires multiple answers and it is: if I shred the circuit boards can I then soak the scrap in a solution and keeping it agitated (slow stirring) with a electrical charged cathode inserted into the solution to collect the metals, and can I take the material (scrap) and take it from one solution to another (of course with thorough rinsing in between) with different solutions and cathodes to retrieve different metals? And if so what are the recipes (solutions), cathode materials and electrical charge?

Wendy Orndorff
- Derry, Pennsylvania, USA

June 13, 2013

A. Hi Wendy. I don't have the answers, only the issues which you should anticipate encountering as you proceed. You probably will not be able to electrolytically dissolve the metals from shredded boards because you won't be able to establish contact. That means you'll have to chemically dissolve the metals into aqua regia, and my feeling is you won't be able to electroplate out of aqua regia because electroplating is a reduction process, and nitric acid is a very powerful oxidizing agent; further I think it will evolve mountains of NOx. But best of luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

June 17, 2013

First of all, for everyone who isn't qualified to use these methods of refining I.e. aqua regia, you need to realize the dangers in it, mainly death. No one's life is worth any amount of gold. Professional refiners can refine your materials for you. Please realize that unless you buy acids by the drum or have a professional setup, 99% of your endeavors will be only a learning experience and a loss of money, so consider it an expensive and extremely dangerous learning experience.

Shane Morn
precious metal refining - Milwaukee, wi usa

February 12, 2014

Q. I have a large number of 45-gallon drums of 6-inch wafers.
And a lot more are waiting for me to pick up & remove.
They have been cleaved and diced and on a sticky like tape.

I was wondering what the best method would be for me to remove the precious metals that are on these?

Any help is appreciated.
Thank you in advance.

kevin scott
- Toronto, Ontario Canada

July 2014

Hi Kevin. *Step 1* is to determine the quantity and type of precious metals on them. What percentage of the surface is covered with precious metal (what metal) and what is the thickness of the plating? Not to rain on your parade but it is very possible that the plating is so thin that you'd need to strip an acre to get a gram; an "assay" of quantity as well as quality must precede every decision to attempt reclamation of metal values because you have to track the quantity through each step of the recovery process. You can't just start mixing witches' potions and hope for the best. So how many grams or milligrams of what precious metals are on each of these wafers? Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

July 12, 2014

! Hi: I have invested time to experiment on safety measures, and I made a glovebox for 100% secure contamination of gas; after this a second machine to neutralize the acid with vapor to condenser and fusion to urea neutralizer.

If you invest a little money to make these two machines you would simplify the 50% of extraction, but the secret of all this recuperation has to be in the titration powder machine.
Salute to every one.

Arturo Montiel
- Cuautla Mexico

Gold won't dissolve in 2% cyanide

December 5, 2014

Q. I have very fine 50 kilos ash of gold bearing computer mother boards, very well burnt chips, and turned into a very very fine powder in the ball mill. This ash contains 75 grams of gold. I prepared a cyanide solution of 2% concentration in 150 litres of water and put gold bearing ash into a leaching tank which very well rotated the whole stuff for 24 hours. The leach tank is a rotating tank which rotates the ash very well. The atmospheric air was incorporated into the tank from the bottom of the tank. The temperature of the tank was kept at 50 °C; all the gold particles were in contact with the cyanide solution. And once the dissolution of gold into cyanide solution was tried without heating the water. But even then the gold did not dissolve into cyanide solution. Please help and throw light on the factors that did not let the gold dissolve into cyanide solution?

Mutalashi Khan
Hobbyist - New Delhi, India

December 5, 2014

A. I would guess than any gold that dissolves is immediately cemented (reduced) onto the large amount of copper that is bound to be present.

Chris Owen
- Nevada, Missouri, USA

December 7, 2014

A 2% solution of Cn would not be enough to allow the gold to be homogeneous in water. Common Potassium Gold Aurocyanide (PGC) has a weight of about 32% KCn per troy oz supplied, which where the term 67.5% and 68% PGC is derived. You may be better off firing it in a furnace.

Mark Baker
Process Engineer - Phoenix, Arizona USA

Can ultrasonics reduce the time required for leaching of gold in aqua regia?

January 27, 2015


Dee k

February 22, 2015

A. About 35 years ago, I set up a consulting client for the dissolving of karat gold scrap jewelry in aqua regia (AR), using immersible ultrasonic transducers. When dissolving karat gold, the silver contained on the surface is converted to silver chloride (AgCl). When the silver is higher than about 8%-10%, this AgCl coating can stop the penetration of the AR and, thus, stop the dissolving reaction. With ultrasonic agitation, however, the AgCl will continually spall off of the surface, providing fresh gold alloy for the acid to attack. The dissolving was probably 10 times faster using ultrasonics.

With ore, it would depend on the composition but I would think the dissolving would be faster in any case.

Chris Owen
- Nevada, Missouri, USA

March 22, 2015

Dear Sir DEE K,
Never use Ultrasonic that may break glass beaker. Normally gold dissolution depends on aqua regia conc., material surface area, heating, imp is material composition contents.

bhupesh mulik
cac admixture - mumbai,india

February 20, 2015

!! Actually if you study and know what you're doing, recovery of gold from E-scrap can be very profitable. If you recover gold plated fingers and circuit boards you can use AP solution which, if done right and taken care of, will last indefinitely and your cost of acid being very inexpensive. To date I've recovered about 40 oz. of pure gold and I've maybe spent 5-6 grand for 40 oz. or roughly $52,000 dollars in gold minus my investment of say even on the high end $10k. I still made a profit of 42 large and if you know how to process your waste as well there is no environmental impact either. So solution is fairly easy to treat for disposal.

However I strongly recommend anyone who wants to try their hand at recovery and refining of precious metals should definitely have the proper training and skills needed to do so. Either by going to school and learning or by being trained hands-on by a professional. I have my Masters in Chemistry and a full lab at my disposal. And I don't recommend any hobbyist to try this; most likely you will hurt someone or yourself and possibly maybe even end up doing hard time in prison. Some of the acids used in refining are the very same ones used to make very dangerous explosives. Don't take my warning lightly -- I am a pro and even I have made mistakes that, had I not been in a lab with proper safety equipment in place, could have killed me and everyone around me.

Adam efthimiou
- Ashland New Hampshire USA

May 13, 2015

! Electronics has been my passion, hobby, and career for 50 years, but I have only been salvaging electronics for their values for the past 2 years.

Firstly, let me say that there is money in the salvage business and precious metals is only a part of it all. I make more money in segregating the metals whether ferrous or non-ferrous, precious or non-precious than I would by trying to refine out the gold, silver and PGM's from the junk.

SAFETY should be the main concern for anyone who wants to do reclamation or salvage. Even common metals like copper, iron and aluminum in chemical concentrations of only a few parts per billion can prove to dangerous to your health. The handling of acids of any concentration (including table vinegar) should be done with great care and with attention to detail. The wearing of PPE (personal protection equipment) is a MUST DO!

Secondly, If you intend to do the reclamation of precious metals from electronics, prepare yourself with knowledge. I recommend "Refining Precious metals From Waste" by C.M Hoke. Spend the money. Read the book. Do the experiments in the book to become familiar with the chemicals and procedures you will be using.

There are several methods out there for dissociating gold and silver from base metals. I will not go into them here. But the one thing I recommend is that you do your work in small batches and that you control your wastes.

Finally, do this; Treat your waste products as part of the chemical process. If you create a toxic waste byproduct, learn how to treat it and make it non-toxic before you move on to your next batch of experiments. Treat our planet like it is the only one you have because it is. Store your chemicals safely and use them with wisdom and you will enjoy a hobby that is not only rewarding monetarily but will increase your knowledge of a subject that few understand.

Sam the Salvager

Sam Kamees
Electronics Salvager - Harleysville, Pennsylvania, USA

November 30, 2015

Q. I have a lot of gold plated aluminum with cosmetic gold plating (0.00005" nominal thickness) and in some cases electrical use plating (0.00020" nominal thickness). There is usually a very thin layer of nickel between the aluminum and the gold. Is there a simple way to remove the gold chemically?

Jim Schimer
- Long Beach, California USA

Need help with exact mixtures of SMB/water Urea/water and tin/HCl

January 21, 2017

Q. Ive half assed read Hokes, I have Steves DVD. I have semi-outline drafts from 2 refiners and felt I was ready to tackle this. I took 34 grams of 14 kt jewelry and cold soaked it overnight in 36 ml nitric and 12 5ml of ccl. and inquarted 34 grams like the DVD outlines. When it comes to the part about adding urea/water they just say "add the urea and water". My question is how much of each is needed to drop the gold? Also how much HCl do I add to my Tin to get stannous chloride testing solution? And lastly how much water do I add to my SMB? Thanks greatly in advance to anyone that can help me.

Randall Langbecker
gold pmg silver and diamond buyer - conyers, Georgia, USA

April 30, 2018 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Trying to figure out best way to separate gold plated silver contact on copper from relays. I have about 7200 of them,silver is 65% and gold is 25%; each weighs .204 grams. What is best way to recover silver and gold?

Dane beaver
- Baton rouge, Louisiana

April 30, 2018

Q. Hi. My name is AJ and I buy storage unit. A lot of the time I get gold plated jewelry that I would like to melt down to remove the gold. I do this as a hobby and would like to know if there is an easy way or the proper way to remove the gold from the plated jewelry. I'm looking into investing in a melting pot. Melting the gold plated jewelry will the impurities separate from the gold or do I have to do other processes. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you

AJ Jackson
- Boise Idaho USA

May 2018

A. Hi AJ. We appended your inquiry to a very long thread on the subject so you can read as much or as little as you wish about recovering the gold from gold plated items.

But briefly: the gold value in most gold plated jewelry isn't much; sometimes it's more, but sometimes it's as little as $.02 to $.06. The recovery of the gold is difficult; the gold will 'alloy' with other metals, so melting it would just give you a blob of whatever metal it's made of, with a tiny amount of gold mixed into it as a contaminant; and it would make it much harder to recover the gold because it would no longer be only on the surface of the items, but 'frozen' into the blob where chemicals and electricity can't get to it. Sorry.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

May 1, 2018 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hello I am vishwajit from india, today I was planning to try extraction of gold from e-waste by aqua regia. I wish I could get brief details on what kind of solutions I need to buy in quantity and concentration point of view?
waiting for positive results

vishwajit kale
- nashik,maharshtra, india

June 2, 2018

! Whew! It was a long journey to the last comment of this thread. But since I made it I will go ahead and share a few thoughts that remain after it all.

1) Doesn't ANYONE still precipitate with good old-fashioned ferrous sulphate any more? LOL

2) Who here hates Allen keys as much as I do?

3) You can't tell me that rolling the back of a spoon over that brown powder isn't STILL the coolest part of refining gold! ;-)

4) Word of advice: If you aren't making enough money in gold to impress your buddies, just tell them it's really all about the chemistry and show them the spoon trick. Everyone loves the spoon trick!

5) And for all of those who try so hard to convince people there's no money in refining, you might be right. However, if I said I still have a 1963 Motorola mainframe intact, bought at a Motorola auction in the early 80's, sitting in my backyard, you'd ALL be trying to figure out where I live and what my favorite chocolate is, wouldn't you?

(and BTW, yes I do and although I like dark chocolate truffles best, I like that spoon trick WAY too much to give up my mainframe!)

I loved reading all the comments!

Tricia Moore
1971 - Phoenix, Arizona, USA

June 2018

Thanks Tricia :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

Left CPU gold plated pins in acid solution too long and it dried out

July 15, 2018

Q. My situation: is that I just recently found a Pyrex Bowl full of gold plated CPU pins suspended in a muriatic acid solution that I had been working on over 6 months ago. Knowing me I had forgotten about it until now. And it looks like it has dried out somewhat. There's a thin layer of green crust on the top that looks like little tiny tiny green beads all stuck together. The middle layer is a light green watery solution and it's also foggy. The bottom layer consists of gold pins and other pieces of metal which I assume is all the pins I was trying to get the gold from as well as get rid of the alloy Metals for a pure gold content when it comes time to fire it off.


I would like to know what the green crust is and if it's too late to recover anything from this Pyrex Bowl of gold pins and muriatic acid. Or if somebody has a knowledge on how to save this that would be great and I would appreciate that information in your help.

Brandon Boss
Hobbyist, student - Edmonds, Washington United States

November 26, 2019 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I've found a multitude of mid-90s motherboards and circuit boards used in manufacturing power plants and paper mill paper machine systems. There's got to be a reason the old boards were saved. How can I process all of it?

Jason Joiner
- Columbiana

August 8, 2020

Q. Yes I'm into e-scrap I want to start a gov. Based Grant e-scrap. Curious as to where to apply. As well, my question is a friend owned a family operated TV repair shop for more than 50 yrs. He recently shut down and gave me more than 600 TV's, lcd plasma projection ext TV's ... so far I have seven 5-gallon buckets of boards, IC pcu chips, fingers hard drves, and still got 250 left. I'm just wondering am I wasting my time or will it benefit me? I wish I knew around about how much to expect.

Jamie Wilhelmina Hussett
- Pelion, South Carolina

August 10, 2020

A. Hello Jamie,
You will probably find obtaining a grant will be very difficult for electronic reclamation. Mainly because of EPA requirements. There is a good letter on this thread from Sam Kamees on the subject that I thought was very good. Scroll up to the letter dated May 15th, 2015.

Mark Baker
- Winston Salem, North Carolina USA

September 13, 2020

Q. So I'm sure this will be added to an already going thread, but I had attempted a small experiment of hydrochloric acid & peroxide 3:1 ratio with an aquarium pump added and let it sit for 3 days on some fingers, pins, and chip powder (all separate) the gold easily came off the fingers, the pins took a little longer, and the chip powder ... well, it's still sitting in its container because I didn't know what to to with it. All were conducted in a homemade clean room with ventilation system that runs the air through water mixed with baking soda then out through the rest of the ducts. I always wore a full face p100 60926 respirator with gloves, and an apron. All acids were properly neutralized and any waste was disposed of through my local hazardous waste facility. (That can be expensive by the way).

I'm wondering if anyone will purchase what I have remaining from my experiments, or if I need to simply complete the process. If I need to complete the process, any recommendations on what to do with the chip powder? I'm being honest here in acknowledging that I started this without the full understanding of how to complete my process. I've got the Gold from the pins & fingers filtered from the HCl & peroxide soak, have rinsed multiple times with water, they are now all sitting in a filter of silk screen material waiting to be dealt with. As I said the chip powder is still in its solution.

Also on a side topic a friend of mine decided to try the vinegar & peroxide route and has his stuff still sitting in the solution after a little over a week. It appears clear-ish with a light blue tint. Any suggestions on where he went wrong and how he can get his gold out?

I wish I would have found this thread before starting my process -- it would have helped.

I am familiar with the basics of chemistry, and have all the safety gear and set up needed, I just need to know what to do next, please.

Also, I noticed that with regards to refining pm from electronics, a lot of people say sell it to a refinery,; my question is -- what do you do if you know the refineries around are only offering 30-40% of today's current value for PM? And my second question is related to the chemicals used in refining. One person had mentioned that local chemical supply companies offer classes. None of the companies around me are offering classes of any kind, they actually thought I was joking. I would like to gain more insight into the different processes involved as well as the precautions to take, but I am a hands-on or in person learner ... reading a book simply won't get through to my brain. Any suggestions as to how I can learn about this. I promise from now on its simply as a student not a practitioner.

Erica Thomas
- Anaheim. California

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