How to recover platinum from a hard drive

Written by alane michaelson
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How to recover platinum from a hard drive
Hard drives are often coated in platinum to increase its storage capacity and speeds. (hard drive interior image by Curtis Sorrentino from

Platinum is among the precious metals used in the manufacturing of computer components. Hard drives, which function like old record players, are coated with a cobalt-based alloy which stores data. Platinum layers enhances the magnetism of the cobalt alloy, which allows for more data to be stored on the drive and improves the time it takes to access the data.

Platinum became increasingly common in hard drives in the 2000s, with the metal making up 10 to 35 per cent of the magnetic metal in drives around 2010.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Protective gloves
  • Face mask
  • Lye
  • Cold water
  • Razor blade

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  1. 1

    Cut across the disc of the hard drive using the razor blade.

  2. 2

    Submerge the cut disc in a saturated solution of water and lye, wearing protective gloves and a face mask. The lye solution will dissolve other metals in the hard drive and become very hot when it first comes in contact with the disc.

  3. 3

    Discard the liquid, leaving behind platinum from the hard drive.

Tips and warnings

  • Determine that your hard drive contains platinum before undergoing the extraction process
  • Lye is very corrosive. Wear protective gloves and a face mask to protect from burns

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