Can You Save Time and Money by Using Acids to Refine Gold, Silver and Platinum?

Let’s say that you have an old gold-plated set of silver tableware. As you know, the gold that the set contains is worth much more than the silver. Can’t you throw everything into a tub of some kind of chemical that will dissolve the silver and leave only the gold behind in solid form?

Or in another situation, let’s say that you have a mixed batch of scrap metal that probably contains silver, gold and platinum. Can’t you immerse that mixed mash of metals in some kind of chemical bath that will separate the precious metals from each other?

The Answer Is . . .

Actually, you probably can do those things. But for reasons we will explain a little later, you really shouldn’t. But before we tell you why that is, let us explain a little about dissolving precious metals.

In general, it is not possible to dissolve platinum, silver or gold in hydrochloric acid. Neither is it possible to dissolve them in nitric acid. But if you combine hydrochloric and nitric acid, they form a liquid called aqua regia which will dissolve them all. (It will also dissolve your fingers, your pants, and lots of other things you would rather still have around.)

Interesting to note, aqua regia has been known since medieval times, when it was used by alchemists to dissolve gold and silver. Contrary to popular belief, it will dissolve platinum too, even though you have to leave that metal immersed for a long period of time. (Gold actually dissolves quite quickly.)

Okay you can do it . . . but here’s why you shouldn’t.

You are going to burn, poison or injure yourself

Messing around with acids is never a good idea. If you get them on your skin, you are going to end up in the hospital. And if you breathe the vapors that are released when you use them to dissolve metals, you are going to damage your lungs.

The fact is, separating and refining precious metals in chemical baths is not something you should do in a tub in your back yard or garage. It is a complex and dangerous process that must be done safely in specialized facilities that capture noxious vapors, neutralize them, and prevent them from escaping into the atmosphere. So the old statement, “Don’t try this at home” really applies.  Call us instead.

You are going to end up with chemical problems that you won’t know how to fix

Okay, let’s say you put some of those gold-plated knives and forks into aqua regia and then watch them dissolve. Congratulations, you have now separated the gold from the silver. The problem is, both those metals are now in suspension in the aqua regia, which means they are floating around as small molecules. How are you going to get them to clump together and form separate quantities of gold and silver? The fact is, that is exactly what you need to do. But actually doing it requires both a lot of knowledge and the right chemicals to introduce into the solution. That is another way of saying, you need Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344

We are well aware that there are some amateurs out there who feel they have the knowledge, the equipment and facilities to use powerful chemicals to separate and refine precious metals. There are even some people who do it without injuring themselves, their families or their neighborhoods.

But is it a good idea? We don’t think so, because so many things can go wrong. Call us at 800-426-2344. We will tell you why, and explain how easy it is to have us test your precious metal scrap.

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