Dead Ends . . . Don’t Look for Precious Metals in All the Wrong Places

Not long ago, a man found two 55-gallon steel drums full of gold paint. He was very excited and called us up.

“How much gold do you think they contain?” he asked.

“Probably none,” we answered. And of course, he was disappointed.

You see, gold-toned paint is usually little more than yellow-tinted lacquer that contains silver-toned flecks of aluminum oxide or some other reflective material. When that lacquer is painted onto a surface, it looks kind of like gold. But the fact is, it contains no precious metal at all.

More Disappointing Dead-Ends

Gold-toned paint is not the only material that can fool you in your search for gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals. Let’s consider some other materials that are equally deceptive . . .

  • Gold and silver-tinted glass – It has a thin reflective layer that looks like gold or silver, but that effect is usually created by the application of a very thin layer of other metals. Even if real gold or silver was used to tint the glass, the quantity of those metals will be so tiny that there is no point trying to recycle it.

  • Gold-plated eyeglass frames – Yes, real gold is often used to plate eyeglass frames, even today. But only a tiny amount of gold is applied by electroplating. The exception? Genuine gold-filled eyeglass frames made 40 or 50 years ago, which can contain quantities of gold that are worth recycling, provided you can collect 50, 100 or more frames.

  • Paint chips and flakes – Some people think that because some paint contains metal, it must be worth recycling old paint chips and dust that have been removed from walls. The fact is, the most common metal you will find in old paint chips is lead, which is poisonous and certainly not precious. Some yellow paints contain chromium, but chromium is not a precious metal either. So unfortunately, it is not worth collecting paint chips and dust in the hopes of reclaiming precious metal from them.

  • Gold-toned automotive scrap – You find a customized car in a scrap yard, notice that the chrome decorations have been tinted to look like gold, and assume that you have found a quantity of gold that is worth recycling. The problem is . . . you haven’t. The layer of gold-colored plating that has been applied to those surfaces is so thin that in most cases, no value can be recovered from it.

But Where Can You Find Precious Metals that Are Worth Recycling?

If you review previous posts on this blog, you will discover dozens of sources of recyclable gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals. Those sources include used catalytic converters, old jewelry, industrial scrap, plating equipment and supplies, used laboratory equipment, thermocouples, photographic and x-ray films and papers, electronic devices that contain circuit boards, and more.

To learn more, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344.

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