loading
Picture of Gold Recovery
Wait don’t throw those old electronics in the garbage, there’s gold in them there things. How about putting it in your pockets instead of someone else’s pocket?

Laptops, phones, cameras, and the like are filled with gold plated circuit boards even printers and scanners have gold, silver, and copper, even platinum in them.

Gold is a precious, conductive, and pliable metal that retains a stable value better than many commodities. Its chemical properties make it useful for the manufacture of computers parts and electronics. Some people find it profitable to attempt to extract the gold from these scraps, then refine and sell it. This complicated process requires chemical expertise as well as access to various chemistry equipment. However, with the right knowledge, experience and tools, you can remove valuable gold from computer parts, other discarded electronics.

Things You Will Need:

Scrap electronics
Rubber gloves
Rubber apron
Goggles
Hydrogen Peroxide 3% I got from local pharmacy.
Muriatic acid 31% local hardware store.
Methyl Hydrate is 99.9% methyl alcohol it is used for fuel line antifreeze and can be purchased at your local hardware or automotive supply.
Funnel filter I used a drip coffee filter
2 large glass containers I like coffee pots for chemical heat.
Stir stick glass or plastic
Weigh scale mine is accurate to 1/10th of a grain.
Blow Torch hot enough to hard solder.
Borax
Clay bowls just about anything that has a melting point 500o above the melting point of gold will do.
Measuring cup anything you can use to make a 2:1 mix will do.


Although no special skills are needed one should follow all chemical and heat safety procedures.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Extracting Gold from Scraps

Collect any gold-containing metal scraps to which you have access, including jewelry, computer processors, old telephone wiring or gold tooth crowns. Keep in mind that outdated electronics are likelier to produce parts with a high enough level of gold to make the procedure worthwhile.

This is the gold I collected in a bucket over three months.

Sort the gold into circuits that need cleaning, gold plated parts, gold plated pins, gold fingers, and solid gold large and small. Use a magnet to separate all gold plated steel this needs a different process than I am demonstrating.

Step 2: Stripping the Fingers and Clean Circuits

Picture of Stripping the Fingers and Clean Circuits
Gold 5b.JPG
Gold 5c.JPG
Gold 5d.JPG
Gold 5e.JPG
Apply all safety gear correctly before working with chemicals and do this outside as the fumes are nasty.

Put the gold fingers and clean circuit boards in the coffee pot, in another container mix two parts muriatic acid and one part hydrogen peroxide and add to the coffee pot until it just covers the gold fingers and wait a week giving it a stir daily. Since I have a week I will move on to processing my solid low grade gold parts.

Step 3: My Scale

Picture of My Scale
Gold 6b.JPG
Gold 6c.JPG
My RCBS scale is accurate to 1/10th of a grain when setup right however do not go by the Oz to grain chart on the scale. A grain is a grain however a troy Oz is 1/12th of a troy pound and a regular Oz is 1/16th of a pound so a Troy Oz is 480 grains not 437.5 grains. Setup the scale remembering to zero it by adjusting the screw on the left.

Step 4: Cupellation

Picture of Cupellation
Gold 7b.JPG
Gold 7c.JPG
Gold 7d.JPG
Cupellation is a process where ores or alloyed metals are treated under high temperatures and controlled operations to separate noble metals, like gold and silver, from base metals like led, copper, zinc, and others present in the ore or alloyed metal. The process is based on the principle that precious metals do not oxidize or react chemically, like the base metals; so when they are heated at high temperatures, the precious metals remain apart and the others react forming slags or other compounds. This process has been in use since the Bronze Age and still used today able to raise the gold and silver content to 95%, however the process cannot separate silver from gold, but this is good enough for me.

Cupellation is simple weigh the solid pieces of low grade gold, burn the crap out of it until you get no more slag and it becomes a nice bright yellow bead, and then you weigh it after it cools.

My solid low grade gold parts with garbage attached went from 180 grains to 75.9 grains of high grade gold with no garbage attached.

Step 5: Gold Flakes and Dust

A week has passed and it is time to collect your gold flakes and dust from your cleaned fingers and circuit boards, after a week the acid darkens and with a stir the flakes of gold can be seen floating around in the pot.

Pouring the acid into a coffee filter the acid passes through the filter leaving the gold behind, save the acid do not dump it down the drain.

Next dump the remaining fingers and circuit boards into a deep plastic tray and add water, sort out the cleaned of gold parts, put the cleaned parts in the waist and save the un-cleaned parts for re-dipping.

After you have sorted the circuit board parts pour the water off through the coffee filter and flush with methyl hydrate to clean. Since the methyl hydrate is 99.9% methyl alcohol it cleans and dries the gold flakes better and faster than water, water will cling to the gold flakes and give you a false weight.

Step 6: Using Borax with your Salvaged Gold

Picture of Using Borax with your Salvaged Gold
Gold 11b.JPG
There are basically two methods of melting gold flakes and dust to recover gold available to the average person, the mercury method called Gold-Mercury Amalgam with its obviously toxic by-products and the Borax Method.

I do not recommend the mercury method it works but it is extremely toxic for generations.

The Borax Method is a technique of artisanal gold mining, with its basis in the principle that borax reduces the melting point of all minerals, including precious metals like gold. The melting point of gold is 1063 ˚C, which is a higher temperature than can be obtained by cheap torches and burners. By adding borax to the heavy mineral concentrate, the melting point temperature decreases, allowing people to melt gold out of their concentrate and salvage. By using borax, no mercury flour is produced, and gold recovery increases.

Step 7: Melting Your Gold Flakes

Take your cleaned gold flakes and weigh them, this tells you how much you lose in melting and cupellation when melting the flakes.

Heat your clay bowl, don’t worry if the bowl cracks or splits, add borax to the hot bowl, when the borax melts add the gold flakes and more borax then heat until you get a nice bead of gold, let it cool and weigh to see how much you lost.

Step 8: Gold

Picture of Gold
Gold 13c.JPG
There you have it gold from electronics, one troy Oz is 480 grains and I have 576.5 grains or somewhere between 600 and 1600 bucks for three months work. I think I will retire.
1-40 of 315Next »
astrong01 year ago
so I have a quick question. what date would you say most of those electronics were from? 70's 80's 90's?
-thanks
Josehf Murchison (author)  astrong01 year ago
All of them including 1940s and 2000s
Your tutorial is AWESOME Boss! question... So common household borax (typically found in cleaner isle at grocery store) lowers Melting point of gold right? Now if I were doing this process over the stove with crushed rock with gold in it, what supplies would I need and the process? I believe I saw muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide.

An ordinary kitchen stove is not hot enough to melt gold.

Crush up the ore and pan it to separate the gold.

Then melt it with the borax in a crucible this will not separate the silver.

Back on the BORAX subject.... HELP!!!! OK I HAVE BEEN TINKERING WITH THIS FOR A WHILE ..TWO YEARS OR SO AGO I TRIED THE BORRAX.ONLY AFTER TAKING MY FIRST NUGGET TO BUYER WITH MACHINE THAT TELLS HIM EXACTLY WHAT AND HOW MUCH OF EVERYTHING IN IT.. I HAD AROUND 2 GRAMS ... BUT HE LOOKED AT ME WITH A BLANK BUT PUZZLED LOOK. And asked me "HOW DID YOU GET IRON IN THIS?" I WAS STILL NEW TO IT ALL I HAD NO CLUE. THEN HE ASKED WHAT I MELTED IT IN... A SmallCAST IRON SKILLET. IFi had not used that it would have been the purest he had come in..BUT MY REAL QUESTION IS... IF YOU PUT TOO MUCH BORAX WITH VERY LITTLE GOLD I KNOW I CANT GET IT TO FIND EACH OTHER SO I WANT TO BREAK IT BACK DOWN.., CAN I? CAN I PUT IT MY MIXED ALREADY HEATED BUT MOST NOT HEATED TO MELTING POINT BO4AX AND GOLD BE PUT IN MURIATIC ACID AND IT BREAK DOWN THE BORAX? IF NOT WHAY DOES.? I HAVE ALREDY TRIED stiring it all in HOT WATER no work. Boiling it i. Water.. no work.. PLEASE HELP.
Josehf Murchison (author)  KathyM111 month ago

the borax should be on the outside of the gold and flake off when the gold is cool.

Melt your gold in clay crucible or some other crucible, if you melt it in something metallic it will pick up the metal.

it would require tonnes of ore to produce an ounce of gold/silver/copper. Unless you've got heavy equipment, a great ore claim and really deep pockets this is the hard way..

so about how much did just the PCB's and gold fingers make, and was the stuff shown in the pictures all you had? cause I have like 4times the amount of PCB's and gold fingers then that as well as processors so just wondering (and all the PCB's have all the traces gold plated) like this one:

like this one

IMG_0852.JPG
Josehf Murchison (author)  sleblanc21 year ago

The one pot produced about 4 grams but I have about 500 pounds of circuit boards and other components to process.

I just dissembled a radar unit from WWII that had about a pound of silver and gold in it, older electronics have higher quantities of gold and silver.

007.JPG

I hope you ran that by a collector first, it may have been worth more as a great example of early radar.

Please always check the electronics is actually scrap and not worth the same entact to someone who collects.

3dcats andysuth1 month ago

Exactly what I was thinking! Imagine if you desecrated one of the last remaining electronics from WW1 for £11.06 worth of reclaimed gold scrap when it was worth £800 to a Memorabilia Collector or shouldve been donated (or sold) intact to a War Museum.. This is why Archeologists have little/no hair except on their chins lol! Its the stress of thinking a Youtube expert detectorist will put a spade through a 4,000yr old potentially unique + fragile object. There's a reasonable argument for recycling all precious metals, but also a good reason to NEVER destroy vintage/antique electronics when our streets get littered with free modern scrap every single day.

Josehf Murchison (author)  3dcats1 month ago

If I get something interesting I donate it to the Royal Canadian Legion Museum. In the past I have given them an CAF Astrograph, a WWI Coey 22 trainer, and survey equipment. I get a lot of these things for next to nothing and take the tax break.

Josehf Murchison (author)  andysuth11 months ago

Key part missing.

Reflectometer circuit.

Got one big load of silver and gold out of it as well as a 12 volt to 50,000 volt flyback.

Joe

a lb of gold! Wow. I wish I hadn't thrown out all my electronics over the years, but I have to say, the steps and process make it sound easy, but what do you do with large boards like modern motherboards and those? Brake them up into smaller pieces?

I have so much i am hoarding them as well as one of you out here. There are refineries and or scrap yards that do buy them and some of them are decent prices but until i know exactly what is in them... NO WAY!! THERE IS WAY MORE PRECIOUSE METAL IN THEM THAN ANYONE WILL ADMIT BUT U MUST HAVE ALOT OF THEM AND ALOT OF TIME AND PATIENTS FOR YOURSELF.. AND PROTECTION FOR YOURSELF AND THE EARTH AS WELL AS OTHER FOLKS TOO.
�L Overcon1 month ago

I'm hoarding them, so I need to know what needs to be kept....

I wish i could run accross some sc4ap that old for sure.. anything i have not scrapped befor I ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO TEAR APART.
bsimon21 year ago
this is cool i have piles of electronics just sitting around and this process would be a lot easier than trying to make use of them....i would like to know the process for the gold plated material as well as a way to separate the silver from the gold if at all possible
Put all the copper plated gold in a pile, then melt it into a puck. Wait for the copper price to rise, then sell the copper puck. Forget the gold, the concentration on plated objects is super low, and copper is a valuable metal in its own right.
Josehf Murchison (author)  stoobers1 year ago
You don't loose the copper it is the slag.
Is it copper nitrate or some other copper salt? If so, wouldn't they have to reduce it to get it back to metallic copper?
Josehf Murchison (author)  stoobers1 year ago
The slag or the acid residue?
Thanks in advance for asking these questions.
Regarding slag or acid residue containing a copper salt: are they both (or either) copper salts?
Josehf Murchison (author)  stoobers1 year ago
The slag I am going to cash in as #3 copper.

I am trying to find that out now about the acid residue I am thinking about making conductive paint with it.

if I can separate the copper moliquels it should make good paint.
Hello and God Bless... I put a STAINLESS STEAL BUTTER KNIFE IN MY USED ACID OVER NIGHT AND ALOT OF THE COPPER WILL BE ATTACHED TO THE KNIFE. I DONT KNOW WHAT PERCENTAGE BUT YOU CAN SEE THE DIFFERENCE WHEN U SEE IT FROM A DISTANCE THE NEXT DAY. I ALWAYS DO THAT BEFOR REUSING MY ACID ON MY LEFT OVERS LATER. I HOPE THIS HELPS
Josehf Murchison (author)  bsimon21 year ago
To separate the gold from the silver you need to use these methods.
There is the nitric acid process.
The sulfuric acid process.
Reverse electrolysis process.
All of these take a hotter torch than I have and these three methods use chemicals due to 9/11 many of these chemicals are highly regulated because they are also used to make explosives.
The Muriatic acid process which I used.
And there is cupellation process which I used.
i have been watching several youtube videos and have noticed several differant solutions one of which disolves the gold into the solution its self, i think the chemicals were Muratic acid 31.5%, house hold bleach, sodiummetabisolphate

would this outcome be any different than yours with your given solution?

here is one of the videos i have seen and is using a different solution than you are.
http://youtu.be/SJN9LW1kJWI
Josehf Murchison (author)  bsimon21 year ago
I like that one tells you how to separate the gold doesn't tell you how to get the gold out of the solution.

Add vitamin C ascorbic acid,

Perhaps if you have gold in solution you can use electroplating to revive another item, eg jewellery or to gold plate your mobile phone case...?

Josehf Murchison (author)  3dcats1 month ago

I use etchant to salvage gold it dissolves the copper and leaves the gold behind.

I tried that to remove the copper from the etchant so I could reuse the etchant, didn't work. but there is an acid mix that will work on.

This Instructable mentions it,

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-10-Etchants-for-Copper-Printed-Circuit-Boards/

it tells you in the next video i believe ( i watched about 4 of his videos) to add something and it makes the gold materialize and form in flakes at the bottom.

my question being about that video in particular is does it extract the gold in a more pure form than the method you have shown here with out the silver being mix'd in?

the idea behind this question being a more pure extraction process and then perhaps repeat your process for silver extraction?

here is the video he shows how to get the gold from the solution:
http://youtu.be/H1VHJCLfxS4
Josehf Murchison (author)  bsimon21 year ago
what they don't tell you is with solid pieces you do what I did then spatter the gold in water. then follow that process.
Poppy Ann1 year ago
A great instructable, here in the UK trying to just get Muriatic acid is almost impossible unlike the USA where you can get it from just about any hardware store.

many thanks for putting this instructable together.
Josehf Murchison (author)  Poppy Ann1 year ago
Here in Canada it isn't that easy ether, some things require you to pass a university course in order to get the licence so you can buy the chemicals.

Because of my work I have 5

Maybe you live in the Far North, because I live in Canada and any hardware store sells muriatic acid, including Canadian Tire .

Josehf Murchison (author)  RuthS11 month ago

Please accept my apologies for taking so long to reply to your comments on my Instructable Gold Recovery.

For some reason I am not receiving notices of comments from Instructables some glitch I guess.

Muriatic acid is not hard to get it is other products with other uses.

Go to your settings and change comment and message notification settings to once an hour instead of as they are made. It is a glitch. Great 'ible btw.

Josehf Murchison (author)  Ninzerbean1 month ago

Thanks

Wow, here in the US, We use it as driveway cleaner... lol
1-40 of 315Next »