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topic 18889 p.8

Recovering gold from electronics, page 8

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A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2020

June 2, 2009

is the gold on the boards/discs that I have real gold? The round discs that I have seam to what appears to be gold. I have bean able to peel the strips off fairly easily. There also is a band or ring of pins in the center of the disc. Is there any way to tell by research perhaps on this particular board by the name brand or manufacturer(that also appears to be gold as well)"TRILLIUM,made in USA 1988". assembly numbers and or serial"(S/N)"numbers,etc. I believe they were some kind of laser control boards.

Yaminah Underwood
hobbyist - Watsonville, California

July 5, 2009

Hi, to remove gold from copper backed fingers simply remove the copper backed gold and dissolve the copper in Ferric Chloride, let solution work for approx. and 1 hr, discard and repeat for an extra 1/2 hr, there will be some fiberglass left as well as gold, do not worry it will help when melting with Borax [affil. link to info/product on Amazon], as it will form a glass layer around gold button and will help remove some impurities,if you wish to brighten it add gold to HCl for approx. 15 min, neutralise with Baking Soda, wash and collect gold, you can then melt by using a crucible and Borax, add approx. 1" of Borax to bottom of crucible, make a depression, add gold foil, add another 1" layer of Borax to top and melt, Borax will help remove impurities, Note not all gold foil is the same quality, this method will only recover gold in it current state; e.g., - 8K, 12K etc.., if you want 24K gold you will need to process further using Aqua regia, hope this helps.

Rhangy D Smith
- Brisbane, QLD, Australia

July 17, 2009

SAFER THAN NITRIC ACID. I was digging around for a SAFER way to dissolve Gold with an acid mixed with hydrochloric acid instead of using nitric acid, well I found something that works. It is called SUBZERO, its a substitute for nitric acid and is much safer.
SUBZERO: This material is pH neutral and is only a substitute for nitric when added to hydrochloric or muriatic acid.
This is cool to know and I hope it helps others, but you have to dig around on the internet for SUBZERO and see who sells it. I think I got 10 lbs for 100 bucks and the shipping was extra, but hey, this is awesome stuff and it works for me. Hope any of this helps you too.
Be safe and good luck, there is gold out there.

Joe Smithers
- Chico, California

July 22, 2009

Like many others before myself, I have found this thread seeking answers to extracting precious metals (particularly gold, of course) from electronics scrap. I have a 4.5 pound cigar box filled with what appears to be mil-spec, gold filled and plated nickel wire clippings from transistors and other devices after being soldered in. Some of it consists of the complete transistors. It is separated into various plastic boxes and tubes and one has a date of 1966. A conservative guess is that half of the weight (about 2.3 pounds) is nothing but gold filled and plated nickel. All of the boxes and tubes have markings such as: .030 Ni Au/F, T.S.=55 lbs; .028 Ni Au/P, P.T. 44.0 lbs; .032 Ni Au/F, T.S.>65 lbs; .020 Du Au/P, T.S.=25.7 lbs; and .017 Ko Au/P, P.T. 21.0 lbs. Obviously, the numbers such as .032 and .017 indicate the thickness of the gold plating. After reading this entire thread, I have come to the conclusions that

1. there are people out there who have successfully been able to extract and/or refine much lower gold densities out of much higher volumes of base materials;
2. I don't trust professional refiners, and anyway, the quantity of stuff I have isn't worth their time or effort;
3. there are providers of kits, supplies and information; and
4. I am responsible and able to respect and recognize the dangers involved should I undertake this process myself.

Michael Dietz
- Peralta, New Mexico

August 5, 2009

a few drops of common bleach and hydrochloric acid will create chlorine gas, which dissolves gold. You would need to do this in a vial. You would also need to dissolve and remove the iron, copper that the gold plate over. I have already done this on a few CPU's. I had to pull with pliers every pin off the CPU's, and much was still left on them! I don't think this type of thing is a big of a hype as you'd think, unless you have loads of CPU's and free time.

Steven Acocella
- Alabama

September 4, 2009

hi guys, one good way of helping to know what is going to the smelter. If it is at least 10k, buy the little gold test bottles ranging from 10k-24k.. you can make your own, but stick with the store bought stuff if you are new.. make sure you button you have is homogeneous and usually take a couple tests on different sides.. Last help I wanna give ya with E-scrap, you are working with materials that are a fraction of 1 percent gold.. Acid seems to be the easy way to do it, but there are chemicals designed for fractions of a percent.. Most, you can recycle your water and reduce your waste stream.. I agree cyanide is very toxic, but check the carcinogens in the chemicals you are currently working with..
If you really want to get gold out of scraps, find someone who is willing to teach you how to do it.. There is something to say about actually seeing it done over taking a book's or someone's "how to". Second, start with good equipment.. third, gold brings out the evil in men.. I lost more money in trusting people doing this.. "Learn from people, don't trust them"..
Acid works, but leeching is the way to go. To do this takes equipment and training.. I'm not saying to not do it, but see a process working before you try it..

Also saw a guy wanted to use subzero with HCl.. also try, Sodium or Potassium Nitrate with HCl.. you can also use bleach or peroxide with HCl... In the long run just go out and buy a barrel of Nitric Acid.. It's a lot cheaper in the end.. good luck..

james dinsdale
- Alamo, New Mexico

September 28, 2009

To Whom it may concern

I have been gathering old jewelry that has mainly tin and gold in it. I am not a chemist and I would like to separate the tin from the gold? Can someone please help me in doing this as I believe there is enough gold present to make it worth while.

Thank you

Jerome Jaster
hobbyist - Bangkok, Thailand

December 1, 2009

re: "One computer contains approx. $1.20 in precious metals and it cost approx. .80 cents to retrieve it"

I don't think so.

Many of us have, over the years, had electronics pieces in our hands that have reached 'worthless' value, except for the bright shiny bits of gold any fool can see here and there.

Considering original cost, one would assume CPUs have the greatest potential for precious metal content - they cost more than anything else found in most devices. I have 486 CPUs I paid $1,200 and $1,345 for - JUST THE CHIPs.

Given the small number of manufacturers of CPUs, one would think that by now, SOMEBODY would have posted a list of parts giving their approximate gold content. That's all I want - to find out what these parts are really worth - assuming all the gold could be recovered.

For each generation of chips, millions were made. So knowing how much gold is in each isn't rocket science, or even trial and error or 'assay'. For a given type, they're all gonna be the same. It's far easier to just 'look them up' than to refine over and over to find the same result. And refiners don't just do one chip - they like to do hundreds of pounds at a time - and that will be assorted scrap. Whatever it takes to get a pot full.

So back to the beginning - the CPU is the most valuable piece in there. How much gold is in them? They obviously aren't all the same, so there is no 'average' that means anything. The amount of gold seems to vary by anywhere from ten to fifty times.

And, Mr Mooney, might an external link to such a list be allowed?

Bill in Kansas

Bill Hemmings
- Hutchinson, Kansas

December 2009

Hi, Bill. Richard Alcorn has already posted some of that info on page 1 of this thread, claiming a value of "at least" a dollar for 486 processors and 65¢ for Pentiums.

I find his numbers exaggerated on the simple basis that if the desperate Indian and Chinese workers illustrated in all these videos were recovering 8 to 11 troy ounces of gold from each ton of boards as he claims is possible, they'd be millionaires rather than living in desperate poverty.

Letter 41565 has additional estimates of the amount of gold on microprocessor pins.

If you find a list of what these components are worth, we can link to it as long as it's not a scam or promotion. With all of the world's environmental organizations begging people not to attempt recycling of e-waste, we are loathe to link to a site which tempts people to ignore those beseechings by inflating and overstating the value of this scrap and/or not printing both sides of the issue :-)


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

December 31, 2009

Hello my name is Don I have some gold from computer board but to make a long story short I ended up with some white sludge in with my gold what can take this away?

Don Dunlap
gold issue - Evansville, Indiana

December 31, 2009

Hi, Don, and Happy New Year. I'm sure your situation is quite clear to you, but I don't know what you are talking about.

Did the plaster ceiling fall onto your pile of gold during a heavy rain? :-)

Seriously, what is this white sludge or, at least, where did it come from? Were you mixing some sort of chemicals in an attempt to dissolve gold and they created the sludge? If so, what chemicals were you mixing? What kind of gold are you talking about: chopped off gold plated fingers, some sort of gold in some sort of solution? How do you even know the gold is in with that "white sludge"? Or maybe the white sludge is the gold?

Please let us know what is going on because, sorry, I am just not understanding your situation. Thanks!


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

January 3, 2010

I was in the refining business for years and the only way to reclaim almost all of the gold from scrap electronics is not safe or for amateurs. I bought the clipped ends of boards where the electroplating was and used sodium cyanide (yea, the gas chamber stuff). The ends were placed in a vat of cyanide and the cyanide was heated. The cyanide causes the gold to go into ion form (in suspension). The formerly plated clips are removed. The cycle is completed by pouring hydrogen peroxide into the pot which produces copious fuming of deadly cyanide gas. but it also causes the gold to fall out in a solid form to the bottom of the pot, which is recovered by using a vacuum filter and then melting the gold. The gold should be .9994 at this time. I recommend that you do not try this at home. It is dangerous and deadly.

I have written about the cyanide extraction method which I don't recommend. Another more time consuming but safer method is to extract the gold by using aqua-regia acid. place the material in the solution and let it dissolve. Neutralize the nitric with a suitable agent (read up on this). The gold is now in suspension (ion form) with the copper and other metals dissolved by the solution. Bubble SO2 gas through the solution and the gold should fall out as a brown mud-like dust. Run it through a vacuum filter to catch it. Melt it and pour and it should be about .9994 fine. Melt this again( I would pour the hot gold into a tall metal tube of water being stirred by an electric drill paint mixer. The result is pellets that are easier to dissolve.) in aqua-regia and repeat the neutralization and SO2 treatment. Melt the resulting gold mud again and the gold should be .9999 fine.

ken retherford
- Alabaster, Alabama

January 7, 2010

For my own educational research, I'd like to know any non cyanide based methods on ways to recover copper, gold, and silver from PCBs and other electronics. I'm not personally making an attempt, no backyard recycling is being done here-just curious about the chemical process and requirements.
How is it done?! :) any information is greatly appreciated.

Kristen Branch
- Dallas, Texas

Ed. note: It's a long thread, and confusing to those who don't understand it, Kristen, but your question has been answered repeatedly already, including in the entry from Ken R immediately above yours. Good luck.

January 28, 2010

I myself own a recycling company and we deal directly in scrap computers. I think the thing that most people need to do when thinking about refining them selves is to actually go and look at what a large refiner has. there are certain components in a computer that will be easier to refine, processors, fingers pins, etc. The truth is though, I make my living off buying and selling scrap computers and boards. There is money but you just gotta know what to do with it. Oh also, the more boards you have the more money you are going to get.

Zack Morris
- St. Louis Missouri

February 10, 2010

Do not try to recover gold until you have learned cover to cover the book written by Hoke, 1940s or so ["Refining Precious Metal Wastes" [affil. link to book on Amazon]]. This is a complete guide to PM recovery also try a website called www.goldrefiningforum.com/ best place on the web to find out how gold is refined along with other PMs, most of the people have tried and tested Hoke's instructions and actually do refine gold for a living or hobby. As for gold amount, I removed gold connectors from a video card and only got around .1 grams of gold/copper fingers, so a Troy ounce will take a few video cards to make.

Other examples 600 grams of RAM fingers turned into 3 grams of pure gold, yields are getting smaller with newer cards and RAM.

Mark Klaus
- Melbourne, Australia

April 7, 2010

Okay people I've been through this all before. If you want to do anything you need to have chemistry know how.
It cost about 2,000 for start up and here is why

Chemical Safety:
Spill Control Station
Chemical Detection (Gases)
Splash guard gloves
Splash guard shield
Gas mask
And full hazmat suit

Chemicals and equipment:
Hydrochloric acid
Storm pre
All types of glassware
Stands and clamps
Burners and tubes
Counter top protectors
And stands

Metal melting:
A good furnace
High temperature Gloves

All this will run you around 2,000 for start up.

Gold is going for 1.1k an oz...

Please note... this is not to be taken lightly at all. If you're looking for a quick and easy money, no. This is a business not a thing to make money on the side. And treat it as which. Store all your chemicals at eye level and make sure you have fans running, gasses outside, and if you really don't want to pump outside, you can, if chlorine gas is being put off, bubble it through water and it will be absorbed into it.

Michael Meyer
- United States, Indiana

April 15, 2010


scrap merchant - CHENNAI, TAMILNADU, INDIA

July 28, 2010

Reading this thread for several months now, I have come to realize that many people think this is an easy job, and all you have to do is mix a few chemicals together and "bam" you're rich... I own a retail computer store in the front, and process about 4 ton of e-waste a month in the back...

I sell the scrap metal at .05c a pound, the aluminum at .55c a pound, the copper at 2.20 a pound, the mixed copper and aluminum at 1.10 a pound, the plastic at .20c a pound, the high grade PCB's at 2.00 a pound, the low grade at .50c a pound, the memory modules at 4.00 a pound and I keep the cpu's for myself and refine using the acid method in my garage.

I spent 10,000 on equipment, and pay 500 a week in labor just to retrieve the waste... then another grand at home to process the cpu's... I get about an ounce a month on the cpu's...

all in all, my initial investment was recouped in 2 months, and see a net return of 6 grand a month from processing e-waste, and only refine the cpu's...

forgot to mention, it cost another grand for a chemist to teach you for a week to do it correctly..

my advise? be a middle man and just move the waste to brokers... you'll make more and cost you less, and you don't have to worry about death or explosions...

Jason Gregg
- Wichita, Kansas

September 3, 2010

I am using the sub zero method to dissolve gold from electronic scrap. I separate all the different metal types and dissolve the gold plated parts. after I rise and have no evidence of impurities, no blue color on rinsed mud; I dry and melt the brown mud with a torch. My problem is every batch I melt, the mud turns into a heavy black glass with tiny bubbles of gold in it. what am I doing wrong and how can I fix it.

Mark Robertson
hobbyist - bronson, Michigan

October 11, 2010

You list out those nasty chemicals in the fumes that MUST be vented to protect YOUR health. Have you figured out where those nasty fumes go once they are outside your building? It's called pollution! And that affects MY health.

For anyone else trying to process electronics down to the gold, I would repeat a phrase I have heard about investing in the stock market. "Bulls make money, Bears make money but Pigs get slaughtered!" That is if you are trying to squeeze every last cent from an investment chances are you will end up lossing money.

Collect your electronics. Break them apart to get the PC boards. Then SELL the boards to someone who knows what they are doing and is fully regulated. Take a little profit and save your life.

Dean Sheldon
- St. Paul, Minnesota USA

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