How to refine gold ore

Written by harvey birdman
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How to refine gold ore
Gold ore is primarily rock and only a small per cent gold. (ore image by Antons Trifonovs from

Refining gold ore is a time intensive and expensive activity, but there simply is no other way to extract gold from ore. The ore must be crushed, caustic chemicals must be mixed and strong electrical currents must be run though viscous liquids. However, after all these hurdles you will be left with 12k to 14k gold ready to be sold on the open market or to your local gold broker. This will only work for gold, however. No other precious metals can be refined this way.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Safety goggles
  • Nonreactive container
  • Car battery
  • Jump lead
  • Steel rod
  • Waterproof chemical resistant gloves
  • Hammer
  • Magnet
  • Sodium cyanide
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Sodium nitro benzene sulphonate

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  1. 1

    Smash the ore with a hammer in a metal pan. The more surface area present, the faster and more efficient the refining process will be. Pass a magnet over the smashed up ore to pick out any ferrous metals. Gold is nonmagnetic so it will not be picked up by the battery.

  2. 2

    Put on your safety goggles, gloves and apron as there is a danger of acid burn with these chemicals. Pour 70 per cent sodium cyanide, 15 per cent sodium hydroxide, and 15 per cent sodium nitro benzene sulphonate mixture into a nonreactive vat (either glass or ceramic). Stir the solution with a non-reactive rod such as glass or ceramic.

  3. 3

    Place a car battery next to the vat and place a metal wire in the vat, clamping the positive jump lead to the wire and then to the positive terminal on the battery. Clamp the negative jump lead to the negative battery post and then the other end to a stainless steel cylinder. Place the cylinder in the vat. The gold atoms will now be leached out of the ore and will attach to the stainless steel cylinder.

  4. 4

    Take the stainless steel cylinder out of the vat periodically and scrape the gold off with a knife. This gold will be 12k to 14k pure and can be sold or used for decoration. The remaining chemical solution can be reused if you strain the rock ore out of it. Consult your local waste disposal regulations if you wish to get rid of the solution.

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