For today’s post, let’s assume that you have bought a factory. Along with it, you have come to own bottles or drums of liquid chemicals that were once used there.
What are the odds that those chemicals contain gold, silver or other precious metals that are worth recycling? The most definitive way to answer that question is to send samples of what you have to Precious Metals Smelters and Refiners – with a few simple tests we can determine what you have and its value. Or if your liquid chemicals are labeled, we can tell you what metals they could contain. (We say “could” contain because older lots of chemicals can be contaminated and difficult to process.)
But here’s some helpful information that can give you a rough idea about whether the chemicals you own contain precious metals.
The Presence of Precious Metals Depends on What the Factory Was Producing
Film processing - By far, silver is the most common precious metal that you will find in industrial chemicals, because silver chemicals were (and are) used in the processing of photographic and x-ray films. And as you know, those processes have been very widely used over the last century.
Application of thin films – If your factory was applying thin films of gold or silver onto glass, ceramics, plastics or other surfaces, chances are good that your chemicals contain quantities of those metals that can be recovered by a qualified precious metals refinery. Among the most common examples of those processes are applying reflective films to architectural or optical glass, but there are other processes that use precious metals in suspension too, such as the manufacturing of solar panels. And if your factory was manufacturing decorative ceramic tiles, you could be looking at chemicals that contain gold and other precious metals.
Jewelry manufacturing - Precious metal-bearing chemicals are also used to apply thin films of precious metal – most often gold or platinum – onto watch cases, rings, and other pieces of jewelry. Those plating processes are accomplished by tank plating or brush plating, in which a paste that contains the precious metal is applied by using an electrically charged metal brush.
How Are Precious Metals Extracted from Liquids?
It depends on a number of factors, such as whether the metal exists in the liquid in suspension (small powders of the metal are dispersed in pure form in the liquid) or in a chemical compound (the metal is present as a chemical compound, like silver nitrate, in the liquid). Depending on those factors, different processes can be used, including the use of centrifuges or (more commonly) the introduction of other chemicals that cause reactions in which the precious metals are separated and precipitated out of the liquid.
In either case, it is mysterious to watch precious metals like gold or silver suddenly become available from liquids where they were hiding. If you think we can work that kind of magic for you, give us a call at 800-426-2344 and we can tell you more.
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