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topic 6907

Gold in Seawater


I have read in an old encyclopedia that gold is suspended in sea water. Do you have any information on this, and also, what type of state the gold would be in ...?

Richard Smith
- Dallas, Texas


Gold is found in sea water in the form of gold chloride, and the concentration range varies but is about 6 parts per trillion. This means that in a cube of sea water that is 1 kilometer deep, 1 kilometer wide, and 1 kilometer in length, there would exist 6 kilograms of pure gold. The efforts required to extract this gold would far out weight the value of the gold.

Nikki Studer
- Christchurch, New Zealand

Where is the gold


My question is about extracting gold from salt water. You said that the gold is bonded to chloride, so if you evaporate a glass of sea saltwater THE gold would stay with the salt and not evaporate with the distilled water. That also means that there is gold in the sand as well. Is that true?

Mikael Lewcun
chemistry student - BORÅS, Västra Götaland, SWEDEN


If you were to evaporate a glass of seawater the gold may or may not remain, depending on may of the conditions inherent to evaporation some dissolved compounds evaporate with the water including salt. Besides the majority of the salt in which you are left with when evaporating seawater is not chloride but rather halide (NaCl). This is partially the reason why gold can also be found in fresh water and even rain. However the concentration of gold in those conditions is so much less than that found in the sea that it is almost impossible to scientifically detect. We know it is there due to the law of constant proportions which state that all elements are found in all forms of water in equal proportions. So say that if the ratio salt to gold in normal seawater was 1000/100 and you were to reduce the amount of salt to 1 (similar to fresh water) the amount of gold also would be reduced to .1 . As for more information on gold in seawater good resources to find out more can be found here: or the scientific community's definitive paper on this topic is: Falkner K.Kenison, Edmond J.M. "Gold in seawater" Earth and Planetary Science letters, vol 98 (May 1990) pg 208-221

Hope this helps

Nathaniel Williams
- Durham, New Hampshire


I understand that the amount of gold in seawater is infintesimal.

I just watched a Discovery Channel program on gold mines. They mine ore in open pits. It takes 40 tons of ore to yield an ounce of gold.

But it got me thinking. How much gold is there in garbage in landfills?

Phillip John Cosgrove
- Chicago, Illinois, USA

May 23, 2010

Forget seawater. Instead, use ancient sea salt deposits.
The gold is locked up in the matrix as chelates and complexed materials, which are not readily assayable. I've personally recovered up to 8 grams/50 lb bag. It's not so complicated as the "Gold from Salt Report" from would indicate, although it did take me several years of research/trial-and-error to understand the chemistry and accomplish the task.

Howard Wesley
Precious Metals Extraction - Forest Lake, Minnesota USA

Ed. note: Howard has used more than one name on his submissions to this site and we do not know if any of them are non-fictitious.

December 25, 2012

Q. Howard. I may have some salty material that may have some of this "nano gold". Been looking for an expert in this field. Can you let me know how to extract this?

Thanks and let me know.

Phil Anders
- SLC, Utah

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