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Gold Recovery for Dummies?

Q. About a year and a half ago I heard you could recover the gold out of computer parts. I am a little bit of a dumpster diver and have plenty of areas where I can get computer parts from, with a lot of gold left on them so I had to wait for about 8 months before finally I found some hydrochloric acid [affil link].

My first attempt at recovering the gold was with vinegar [affil links to item on Ebay & on Amazon] and salt and it sucked so when I found hydrochloric acid I read into it a bit, found out that you need a Hydra what the heck it's called again? There, it's hydrogen peroxide [affil link]. I mixed it together in the bucket, put my chemical mask [affil link] on, and my rubber gloves [affil links to item on Ebay & on Amazon] half the time if that.

Anyway, question is I left it in there for quite a while -- more time than regular. My solution went like very extremely thick; I definitely got all the gold off of everything plus everything else it was really dark green when I filtered it. It kept so heavy that filters would just fall through (that question will come later). My question is this:
once I did recover, I used borax [affil link] and torch. I basically just heated mix up and all of a sudden some metal started to form with the borax. Now I've got what looks like gold mixed with a reddish tinge ... I'm wondering what the reddish tinges are, curly, sitting in vinegar and other parts of it or in a contacts what's it called vitamin C. As soon as I added the vitamin C with the torch it went from the radish tinge to a beautiful yellow gold. Question: what metals am I seeing in this gold?

William Grieve
dumb ass hill billy - Langley BC, Canada
June 22, 2023

↓ Closely related postings, oldest first ↓

Q. Well Hello. I just stumbled across this forum as I was looking for information on Gold Scrap Recovery and thought it was as good a place as any to start. I have read the posts and have to say that I agree with the many warnings associated with the use of ANY chemical. With that said, I am an engineer working in the Semi Conductor industry and have worked with a myriad of chemicals including Nitride, Phosphorous, Hydrofluoric and Sulfuric acid and others. I am pretty well versed in the care and use of said chemicals and have access to a rather well furnished lab. I also have access to many old high-end computer components containing a relatively fair amount of gold. Not to mention a large amount of old jewelry and plate items.

Now that I have set the stage, I wish to ask of those "in the know" for a "Gold Recovery for Dummies" version.

Also, would it be feasible to attempt recovery from ceramics and pottery that contain GOLD embellishments?

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time. Regards

Still Searching.

Cory G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Engineer/Hobbyist - Caldwell, Idaho

A. Hi, Cory. Topics 771b and 18889 may be a good start. Good luck.

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

A. You can leach it off with a 5% solution of sodium or potassium cyanide (REALLY TOXIC STUFF!), a dash of hydrogen peroxide makes it work faster. Then you can electroplate out the gold.the solution is reusable just add a little more cyanide if it quits working. Another method is digest the metal in 50% nitric acid this will leave pieces of gold leaf behind which you can filter out. Gets kinda expensive unless you have a cheap source of HNO3. As far as the gold on pottery goes you would have to process a heck of a lot since it's only a few millionths of an inch thick. You can kill the cyanide with calcium hypochlorite for disposal. I once got about 3 oz of gold off mil spec connector pins but I had to process about 27 pounds of them. Good luck and be very careful with the cyanide.

Jan S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Dallas, Texas

A. Well Cory I am an Engineer for a large gold mine. You have a good idea here... The Chemistry problems are real, as you know. And I'm sure you know that I WOULD NOT LEACH AT MY HOUSE or try to make any CN product without being in a proper lab or a place designed for it. Always keep CN solutions at a pH of 10.5, realize that if your pH hits 9.3 your gassing of half of the CN in your solution...BAD NEWS. At 10.5 your only losing <1%. If the pH gets over 11 the solution has a hard time picking up gold.

With that said you can get gold out of anything and they are right NaCN works great for a lot of "host" materials, but do NOT use it where acids or S's are present. Also realize that in our leach pads we use a basic rule: 150 micrograms takes 45 days in a leach pad with cyanide consecration of .2 lbs/ton and an application rate of .003 GPM/ft^2 (you will be much high on both of these numbers). The big problem is cyanide the problem is you will have to make it; no one will sell it to you. You're a chemist and probably can think of ways to make it. (to help make sure no one gets hurt I'm going to let you do some of the Engineering work) But one way is NaCl, C (flower will work) and N2(g) from a welding store, e's are involved, you get the picture.

When extracting make sure your CN Solution has flow, the amount of gold is directly linked to CN concentration, the overall solution can (when ratios are right) hold 500 oz gold / ton of solution.
Remember pH pH pH

You can skip any carbon loading for concentration and go straight to electrolysis. Start with 6V don't use a Cu cathode, use gold, this will keep you from having to refine with acids and some other headaches.
Remember pH and do NOT pour the CN solution down the sink. If you're going to pour make sure the CN is totally killed with something like CaO, Baking soda
Anyway stay safe, good luck, Gold may hit $1500 + in 2010. A lot of the big companies are planning on it.
Anyway there are a lot of in's and out with gold extraction, have fun.

B Mat Chap
- Elko, Nevada
November 19, 2009

"Recovering Precious Metals"
by George E. Gee
from Abe Books
or Amazon
[affil links]

Q. I am currently researching on methods which I can use to recover gold from electronic components, mainly IC chips. I have also researched that using aqua regia to dissolve the gold might work but how would I then precipitate out the gold? I would also know the standard ratio of hydrochloric acid to nitric acid to use in aqua regia. Thank you.

Hashvin P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
student - Singapore

Q. I want to know the gold recovery through eco-friendly from the gold ornamental working places. This question arises because the gold loss cost will be the part of product cost. Compared to the other metals, gold is the costliest metal which is used as an ornament.
Is there any easiest method for gold recovery from various dusts without using acids and chemicals?


Employee - Tamil Nadu, India

A. It is becoming My experience that the Most Profitable avenue for you would be to split all your "scrap" into manageable "Lots" & sell it on Ebay to others! I am so far just buying and trying to Recover & Refine:
Computer Scrap ~ one, two & three pound lots.
Jewelry ~ 15 to 100 gram lots.
Allow others to "enjoy" the illusion of easy money & get paid for the most part top $$$.

Richard Hardeman
- BHC, Arizona

Q. Hi, I'm really interested to know how to recover gold from the computers motherboards, IC's, microprocessors and all that is related with electronic circuit boards. Any ideas will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Jorge Fajardo
- Bogota, Colombia
February 12, 2008

"Recovery And Refining Of Precious Metals"
by C.W. Ammen
from Abe Books
or Amazon
[affil links]

! Folks: E-waste is a huge worldwide environmental problem, and two pieces of the problem are:
- Doing the process in uncontrolled environments whereby the mercury and toxins are rapidly being spread everywhere.
- "Cherry picking" the gold, then leaving the remainder of this toxic waste of insufficient value for anyone to ever attempt to collect and recycle.

Mankind has advanced beyond killing a whale for a barrel of sperm oil or an elephant for a few pounds of ivory and leaving the carcasses to rot, even though that waste was temporary. Every environmental organization in the world is begging us not to follow the same path with e-waste, trying to recover a smidgeon of gold, at the cost of leaving acres of highly toxic electronic components polluting the earth. Please view a couple of the dozens of videos on "ewaste" on YouTube before proceeding, and do your best to recycle responsibly. And if you think there's big money in it, it doesn't look like your competition is making that big money.

Original uploader: Thousandways, German Wikipedia.(Original text: Matthias Feilhauer (Benutzer: thousandways)) - Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3490136

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

Q. HI,


March 11, 2008

A. Please realize that these items were not "dipped" in gold in the fashion of chocolate covered strawberries, Andy. They were nickel plated for brightness and then electroplated with a very very thin layer of gold, probably less than 20 millionths of an inch thick. Look at a feeler gauge 2 thousandths of an inch thick, if you can find one that thin, and recognize that the gold is less than 1/100 of that thickness. You will certainly not recover it as a "shell" of any sort. Sorry.

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

Q. I want to find gold; I know it is in computer boards and other electronics. What else has gold in it. Maybe glucose test strips? Do they contain gold also?

Lonnie Keith
curious, seller - Meigs, Georgia
April 28, 2008

"Refining Precious Metal Wastes"
by C. M. Hoke
from Abe Books
or Amazon
[affil links]

Q. I have old computer parts that I am scrapping. I have been tearing them down and taking them to recyclers who say that they send them out to other plants because of EPA regulations. I am having trouble believing them and also making any money. Metal is way down and I have a large amount of plastic to get rid of. Anybody know the rules about chemically removing the gold and platinum?

Steve Pruitt
computer recycler - St Regis, Montana
September 30, 2008

Q. I would like to ask this question: Are the contacts in the mylar strips on print cartridges gold plated?

James Mills
- Big Spring, Texas
October 4, 2008

A. Hi, James. At a small risk of oversimplification, yes; if a low voltage electrical contact is the color of gold, it is gold plated.


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

Q. I was attempting to electroplate out the copper and nickel from circuit board connectors. I am using a vinegar [affil links to item on Ebay & on Amazon] and salt mix for my electrolyte. the connectors are used as the anode. A sheet of copper approx. 6" x 3" is my cathode.
Power is a 12 V 2 A transformer.

My theory was that the acetic acid [affil link on Ebay & Amazon] with added sodium chloride would dissolve the copper and nickel allowing it to plate onto the copper sheet while the gold would sink to the bottom.

The first attempt seemed to follow this theory; however, I did not notice any change in the thickness of my cathode. I figured this was due to how little copper plated out prior to the gold flaking off.

Repeating the process with the already saturated mix resulted in the mix taking on more of a milky white appearance. I am guessing this batch must have had a different metal in it somewhere but I am unsure what metal would cause such a reaction. the solution also seems to have particles of corroded copper (dark green) floating on it.

my questions are: 1. any theories on what would cause this? 2. why am I still not seeing the cathode getting thicker after almost 4 weeks of total run time?

Joshua Wert
hobbyist - crescent city, California
April 7, 2009

! Dear readers! If you overheard doctors discussing an appendectomy, you would not try one based on what you heard :-)

Please remember that internet forums are a "one-room schoolhouse" where you will read snippets on subjects that may be dangerous to dabble in if you are not trained in that field. The idea of anyone who is not a trained professional chemist with haz-mat certification trying to make cyanide is frightening.

CaO or baking soda does NOT destroy cyanide; cyanide treatment requires alkaline chlorination.


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

Q. I have a bunch of unopened bottles of precious metal glazes for ceramics.
Each says it has a net weight of 1 gram of gold or platinum.
Is there a way to recover the metal from these liquids?

Cory Christensen
hobbyist - SLC, Utah, USA
October 28, 2010

Q. Sir, I am doing the scrap gold. I got a problem in gold recovery that is, actually I am using the method of collecting the gold coated material and adding the nitric acid and giving the heat. After boiling the acid, the gold layer appearing the top, collecting the gold layer, when I try to heat that gold it becomes nothing. All coated material gone. Any suggestion on this? One problem is nickel; a extract in this method I believe that nickel combines with gold; this my case.

Mulka Kalidas
gold worker - Hyderabad, India
October 19, 2011

Q. Metal recovery from Philosophers Stone after conversion. I have been working on this process for sometime, I am not 100% certain of the yield as yet as the conversion process is a little messy - basically what is left after extraction is a fine white powder a little like talc then this is converted to metal form, it maybe more beneficial to keep in the white powder form for the properties it contains, however once converted back precious metals show and this has the higher market value at this point. Is it better to have someone else extract the metal elements from this powder rather than if I do this myself, are there any decent metal recovery company's I could send this to in Australia.

Andrew Ruselle
Opportunist - Australia
October 30, 2011


For every ounce of scrap gold you are going to refine you will need a capacity of 300 milliliter container for the aqua regia solution.

1. Place impure gold to be dissolved into a glass or plastic container.

2a. Aqua regia - Mix one part nitric acid to 3 parts hydrochloric acid. OR
2b. To the container, add 30 milliliter of nitric acid for every ounce of metal.

To the container, add 120 ml of hydrochloric or muriatic acid for every ounce of metal in the container.

3. Allow impure gold to dissolve for an hour to overnight for complete dissolution.

4. Once all gold is dissolved, filter out any particles out of the acid solution containing the liquified gold into another glass container using a fine stainless strainer. The remaining particles should not be discarded as these may contain other precious metals!

5. The acid containing the dissolved gold will be an amber to emerald green color depending on the purity of the gold and should be clear (not murky or cloudy). If the acid solution containing the dissolved gold is murky, it may contain particles and should be re-filtered with a finer grade paper filter.

6. Slowly, add the water/urea (urine ) to the acid solution containing the dissolved gold. The acid solution containing the dissolved gold will foam with the addition of the water/urea (urine). Do not add the water/urea (urine) so quickly that the acid foams out of its container. When the acid solution containing the dissolved gold stops reacting to the addition of water/urea (urine), stop adding the water/urea (urine). You've just raised the pH of the acid from 0.1 To 1.0, killing the nitric acid but not the hydrochloric.

7. Add precipitant ( sodium bisulfite ) slowly in minute amounts to the acid solution containing the dissolved gold, immediately the acid solution containing the dissolved gold will change to a muddy brown appearance as brown particles of gold form in the solution. Occasionally agitate the solution with a glass stir rod, as the brown particles continue to form they will sink to the bottom of the container, this brown "mud" is, despite its appearance, pure gold.

8. Allow precipitant ( sodium bisulfite ) to fully draw out all the gold out of the solution, test for gold in the remaining solution, if it tests positive for gold, you may have to add more precipitant ( sodium bisulfite ).

9. To test the solution for remaining gold, first immerse the end of the stirring rod in the acid. Remove it and touch that end to a paper towel to make a wet spot. Put a drop of gold detection liquid on the wet spot on the paper towel. If any gold is still dissolved in the acid, the wet spot will turn a purple-black or a purple-brown. If you see this color change then give the precipitant more time to work and/or add more precipitant.

10. Now all the gold should be drawn out of the solution and the acid should now be a clear amber color with a brown mud settled at the bottom.

11. Using a fine paper filter, pour off the acid into another container allowing the mud to stay in the filter. The mud is pure gold.

12. When all the acid is poured off, return the mud to a container for rinsing, add tap water to the mud. Stir and let the mud settle. Using a fine paper filter, pour off the tap water into the container with the acid. Do not pour off any particles of brown. Repeat this rinsing 3-4 times or more.

13. After completing the final tap water rinse, rinse once again with aqua ammonia [affil link on Ebay & Amazon] ( %10 ammonia [affil link on Ebay & Amazon] to %90 distilled water ) white vapors will appear. The aqua ammonia [affil link on Ebay & Amazon] cleans impurities from the gold mud while, at the same time, it neutralizes any acid still clinging to the gold mud.

14. While in the fine paper filter, give the mud on last rinse, this time with distilled water until mud and filter is clean.

15. Take filter with clean gold mud and gently squeeze of any excess water and place filer with mud into crucible for melting.

16. Once melted, the gold will again take on the appearance of metal. If you've followed the instructions carefully and used filters, the gold will be 999.5 % Pure with virtually no losses.

17. Platinum- If you had platinum in your gold, it will not dissolve, to any appreciable degree, in the room temperature aqua regia. It will be left behind when you pour off the aqua regia, prior to precipitation. To insure high purity of the platinum, you will need to re-refine this material. Put this material in a fresh aqua regia bath. This time, however, heat the acid to simmering. Continue heating until all the platinum is dissolved (that may take 1-2 hours). When completely dissolved at 1 ounce of ammonium chloride for every ounce of dissolved platinum. The platinum will precipitate as a red mud. If you want to leave the iridium in the platinum, then wait for it to precipitate before recovering the platinum. Iridium will precipitate as a blue-black mud after the platinum precipitates. Platinum group metals will also show up on the stannous chloride test. Platinum turns red, palladium Palladium turns orange and iridium turn blue-black.

January 7, 2012

A. Philosophers stone? Alchemy? When using nitric acid to remove base metals in gold recovery it is very easy to misplace your gold. On electronics that use gold for shielding (such as RF shielding) the gold can be very thin and instead of coming off in foils will separate into finely divided particles and will get lost in trash. Another cause for missing gold recovered this way is bad work habits. Dirty glass that has been cross contaminated will hold chemicals that can't be seen. Did you use the glassware for any solution that contained a HCl acid solution? If so, remember that you can't rinse acids from materials. If you use a container for a HCl solution and then rinse well, and then use it for a nitric acid solution a weak aqua regia will form and dissolve values. A small amount of HCl will make quite a bit of AR solution. As far as the philosophers stone, the only one I can think of is the one in the Harry Potter stories. Values that have been precipitated have distinct colors and as far as white powder goes, metal salts can be white if crushed finely enough. If you would like some help, put the witchcraft aside and let me know what you did to get what you have and I will try to give some advise on what it is and what can be done with it.

Jeff Massey
- Decatur, Alabama, USA
January 16, 2012

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