Why a Broom Could Be Your Best Tool for Finding Precious Metals

Why a Broom Could Be Your Best Tool for Finding Precious Metals

What is the most powerful tool for finding gold, platinum, silver and other precious metals?

When you think about that question, chances are you think about using a metal detector. And yes, a metal detector can be a great device to use when you are looking for precious metals in outdoor areas like the beach or open fields. There are other good tools too, like camera-equipped drones.

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Helter Smelter . . .

Helter Smelter . . .

What You Need to Know about Modern Smelting and What We Do

As we wrote on this blog back on February 24, 2014, “Smelting has now evolved into a modern, sophisticated process that uses very advanced equipment to separate precious metals from a wide variety of compounds and chemicals, not only from rocks.”

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Can You Extract Gold, Silver and Platinum by Burning Things?

Can You Extract Gold, Silver and Platinum by Burning Things?

The idea is simplicity itself. You take a pile of stuff that contains precious metals and reduce it to ash by burning it, then process the ash with a strong chemical that removes everything but the metal. Wow, you just turned a pile of worthless-looking stuff into a small quantity of bright precious metal.

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The Story of “Arsenic Avenue” Highlights the Dangers of Exposure to Chemicals Left Behind by Gold Processing

The Story of “Arsenic Avenue” Highlights the Dangers of Exposure to Chemicals Left Behind by Gold Processing

“Poison fears on 'Arsenic Avenue': Families forced out of their homes as studies find suburban street was built on toxic soil,” an article that appeared in Australia’s Daily Mail on September 6, 2018, points out all too clearly the health dangers that can result when people are exposed to poisons that are left behind near old gold mines.

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Why Expert Silver Recyclers Have Specialized Skills No One Else Does

Why Expert Silver Recyclers Have Specialized Skills No One Else Does

Alchemists were medieval scientists who, legend says, were able to turn base metals into gold. Of course they couldn’t do that. Still, some of their discoveries are still being used today. One is aqua regia, a combination of nitric and hydrochloric acid that is still used today to dissolve gold and platinum.

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

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?

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Mine or Recycle Gold? We Have an Opinion about Which Is Better

Mine or Recycle Gold? We Have an Opinion about Which Is Better

“EPA Allows Mine Company to Pursue Permits Near Alaska Bay,” an article that Becky Bohrer wrote for the Associated Press on May 12, reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on the verge of approving a permit for a new copper and gold mine in the Bristol Bay area of Alaska...

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Three Shady Precious Metal Scams You Should Know About

Three Shady Precious Metal Scams You Should Know About

If you called a precious metals refinery for an over-the-phone appraisal, you would be pretty excited to hear the words, “Your scrap could be worth an awful lot of money.” And you should be happy. The problem is, those words could lure you into one of the precious metal scams that are happening today.

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Why Letting Us Test Powdered Chemicals Can Offer You a Large Return and Ensure Your Safety

Why Letting Us Test Powdered Chemicals Can Offer You a Large Return and Ensure Your Safety

So, what are palladium salts? They are compounds of palladium and other chemicals that are most often used in the production and testing of stainless and other steels. Some palladium salts are also used as catalysts in the production of other chemicals. Here are some common forms of palladium salts that are used in industry, and that you might come to own if you acquire a chemical business or an old industrial site . . .

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What Are the Platinum Group Metals?

What Are the Platinum Group Metals?

Chances are that you only find small quantities of the valuable secondary platinum group metals (palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium) hiding in recyclable items that you think are made only of platinum. How can you tell if these rarer metals are present?

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What Are Your Collectable Medals Worth?

When a medal sold for $1.47 million last year, lots of people started to dust off their medals and look at them with renewed interest. Granted, that medal was something unbelievably special. It was one of the four gold medals won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. (Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?)

If you own a commemorative medal – or maybe a quantity of them - how much value do you have in hand? It depends, because the value of medals depends on several factors.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

The Collectable Worth

The value of a commemorative medal is affected by a number of factors that include age, country of origin, rarity, and the history of the person or event honored by the medal. (This could be harder to determine, especially if you obtained the medals at an estate sale, garage sale or antique dealer.) How can you research those variables? Here are resources to use . . .

  • Contact an independent appraiser or expert. These organizations can help you connect with one: The American Numismatic Society; the American Numismatic Association; the Token and Medal Society. Note that it is wisest not to get your medals appraised by a dealer who then buys them; if dishonest, he or she could be lowballing you and stealing dollars right out of your pocket.
  • Research the sales of similar or identical medals at auctions. You can start out by checking previous or current sales of similar medals on eBay. Another option is to visit the websites of auction houses that regularly hold auctions of medals and medallic art. They include: Bonhams; Christies; and Spink.

The Value of the Metals that Your Medals Contain

If your medal(s) do not have high collectable value, your next step is to determine the metals that they are made of.

How can you tell? Sometimes it is easy. Jesse Owens’s gold medal was made of real gold, of course. And silver and bronze medals are often (but not always) made of those metals too. Sometimes, commemorative medals will come with documentation that spells out exactly which metals they contain, especially if they are military medals.

Short of such clear signals, it can be difficult to know the makeup of the medals that you own. There are variables, including country of origin and age. In general, newer commemoratives – especially those manufactured in large quantities over the last few years – are apt to contain lower quantities of precious metals than are older medals that were issued in small editions.

If you are trying to determine the value of the metals in a batch of commemorative medals, your wisest strategy is to contact a qualified precious metals recycler or refiner, like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners.

To Summarize Your Steps . . .

To sum up the advice in today’s post, your first step is to establish the collectible value of your medals. Then, if they do not have high value to collectors, you should determine the value of the precious metals that they contain. For that, you need the services of a top precious metals refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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What Is the Mohs Scale?

If you’re familiar with precious metals, you already know that the purity of gold is measured in karats. But do you know that gold is also rated on the Mohs Scale, where it ranks very low?

But don’t start to worry about that low ranking of any gold you own. The Mohs Scale is a measure of gold’s hardness and scratch-resistance, not an indication of its dollar value.

But what is this other scale that is used to classify metals? Let’s explore.

What Is the Mohs Scale?

Mohs Scale Image Courtesy of Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale_of_mineral_hardness

Mohs Scale Image Courtesy of Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale_of_mineral_hardness

The Mohs Scale, which is sometimes called the Mohs Scale of Mineral Harness, was invented in 1812 by a German geologist named Friedrich Mohs, who was trying to create a system to compare the hardness of different minerals. He knew, for example, that talc was an extremely soft mineral. But was it softer than gypsum, another very soft mineral?

Because Mohs saw the value of having a way to compare the specific softness of different minerals, he decided that he could contrast their resistance to being scratched. When he tried to scratch talc and gypsum, for example, he determined that less force was required to scratch talc, so talc appeared below gypsum on his new hardness scale.

What mineral is at the very top of the Mohs Scale? As you probably guessed, it is the diamond, which is pure carbon, and extremely resistant to being scratched. It rates a 10.

Where Do Metals Fall on the Mohs Scale?

In other words, which metals are easiest to scratch, and which are the hardest? Here’s a rundown.

  • Extremely soft (rating of 1.5 on the Mohs Scale) - lead and tin
  • Very soft (2.5 - 3) - magnesium, gold, silver, aluminum, zinc, copper
  • Moderately soft (3.5 - 4) - iron and nickel
  • Moderately hard (4.5) - platinum and steel
  • Very hard (5 - 7) - palladium, beryllium, molybdenum, titanium, manganese, rhodium, uranium
  • Extremely hard (7+) - tungsten, chromium

The History of Hardness

For thousands of years, metals have been mixed together – alloyed – to create a harder metal. In ancient times, that quest for hardness led to the creation of bronze (a mixture of tin and copper), which was created to be a harder version of copper that could be used in weapons and tools. Later on, we have other alloys like brass, pewter and steel.

So in many cases, the aim in creating alloys has been to add hardness to a metal that was already in widespread use. In other words, most modern alloys have been created to improve their rating on the Mohs Scale.

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What Is Karat Gold and How Can You Find Out What Yours Is Worth?
Some Fascinating – and Potentially Profitable – Facts You Never Knew about Refining Gold

The Mystery and Mastery of Gold Refining

Gold has a richer and more fascinating lore than any other precious metal does. In legend, King Midas turned objects into gold, just by touching them. In medieval times, alchemists attempted to turn base metals into gold. The Spaniards invaded Latin America, and destroyed several civilizations, just to obtain it. In ancient Sumeria, Greece and Egypt, royals were adorned with gold jewelry when they were buried. The composer Richard Wagner wrote his four “Ring” operas about gold that was stolen from the Rhine River. J. R. R. Tolkien wrote novels about a magical golden ring. And then there’s the fact that when modern people want to marry or celebrate their love for each other, they do so by exchanging gold rings.

17th Century engraving showing the process of smelting and refining gold. We’ve come a long way since then at Specialty Metals!

17th Century engraving showing the process of smelting and refining gold. We’ve come a long way since then at Specialty Metals!

Surprising Facts about Gold

If you’d enjoy learning more about gold, visit “Gold Fun Facts,” a page that was created by the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Here’s a sample of some of the information you will find there:

  • The total amount of gold ever mined is estimated to be only 152,000 metric tons. That’s only enough to fill 60 tractor trailers. Every year, 907 million metric tons of iron are mined - 6,000 times the total amount of gold produced throughout all of history.
  • More than 90% of the world’s refined gold has been mined since 1848. (Remember the Gold Rush?)
  • 78% of the gold that is mined every year is made into jewelry. Another 12% is used in electronics, medical applications, and dental work. The remaining 10% is used in financial transactions.
  • Gold is so malleable that one ounce can be beaten into a sheet that measures 100 square feet.
  • The "Hand of Faith," a 60-pound gold nugget, is currently on display in the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. It was discovered in Victoria, Australia, in 1980.

Time to Create a Legend of Your Own?

If you have items on hand that contain quantities of gold, why not contact a top gold refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to find out what it is worth and claim its hidden value? Call us at 800-426-2344.

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What Is Karat Gold and How Can You Find Out What Yours Is Worth?

Can You Extract Gold from Black Sand?

If you live in an area with large deposits of black-colored sand, are you sitting on tons of gold that you can refine? Or if you work for a mining company that pulverizes minerals and ends up with quantities of black sand, it is likely to contain quantities of gold that are worth extracting?

Image of black sand containing gold that can be extracted, smelted and refined by Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners.

Lots of myths and misunderstandings surround the question of black sand, as you will discover if you search for the term on Google. But before you assume that your black sand is worth its weight in gold – or even a tiny percentage of that – here are some questions to answer.

What Is the Source?

Black sand can be sitting on a beach. It can be found in “placer deposits” of other minerals that occur naturally in streams, river beds or as veins in rock faces. It can be a byproduct of mines that extract primarily copper, zinc, or another metal from the earth.

So, what is in your black sand and does it contain gold? There is no way to be sure without sending a sample to a qualified gold refinery.

If Gold Is There, Can It Be Profitably Be Extracted?

The answer is, it depends on the kind of black sand that you have – if it does contain gold. If gold is present in small nuggets or flakes that are not physically bound to minerals, they can sometimes be separated by sifting or using a device called a shaker table or other specialized machinery. Do you remember the Gold Rush prospectors who panned for gold in streams? They were engaging in just this process.

If gold is physically bound to minerals, it can sometimes be separated by the application of heat in a smelting operation. At other times, the only way to separate the gold is to immerse quantities of black sand in chemical baths – a process called wet chemical extraction. The more complex the separation process, the higher the cost becomes of extracting each troy ounce of gold.

Is It Worth Extracting Gold from Your Black Sand?

Again, the answer is, it depends. If only a tiny amount of gold exists in a large quantity of black sand, the cost of extracting it can be much higher than the value of the gold itself. If there is a lot of gold that can be extracted using sifting or other relatively inexpensive processes, that could be an option worth considering.

The bottom line? If you’re sitting on a quantity of black sand of any kind, start out by sending a sample to a qualified testing service. Consider calling Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Some Fascinating – and Potentially Profitable – Facts You Never Knew about Refining Gold
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Gold Refining: Why It Takes an Expert to Evaluate Your Gold-Plated Items
If You Use a Metal Detector, You Should Keep Our Number Handy