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How to dissolve stainless steel but not gold


An ongoing discussion beginning back in 2006 ...


Q. I am a chemical engineer working with a private firm in India. At this stage the problem I am facing is the following, any sort of help will be appreciated:

I have stainless steel wire of 304 grade, which is electro-coated with gold. Now I am seeking to dissolve stainless steel completely without losing gold at all.

Can you suggest any method?

Warm regards,

Vishnu Kumar Sharma
- Gurgaon, India


A. Try 50% hydrochloric acid

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

A. Hi Vishnu. Hopefully Trevor's response will be the answer you seek, but the problem I am having with your inquiry is that you seem to be describing one particular step you intend to execute rather than the actual goal, and it's a bit hard for me to picture an overall scenario where dissolving all of the stainless steel is part of a practical route to recovery of the materials from gold plated stainless steel wire :-) It just seems so much more practical to strip the gold plating off and recover the gold, and I wonder if maybe you just started with an assumption that stripping the gold wasn't possible?

Luck & Regards,

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

July 10, 2020

Q. Hi, Jason Ho here from Malaysia, I am facing an issues where my 22K gold jewellery contains some small and tiny broken pieces of stainless steel. I believe my worker accidentally melted the old jewelry with it and that then being use in the casting process. May I know which acid should I use to dissolve stainless steel but not gold. I have tried boiling it with 60% hydrochloric acid

Jason Ho
- Malaysia , Kuala Lumpur

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