How to clean gold with nitric acid

Written by clayton kim
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How to clean gold with nitric acid
Nitric acid can make gold shine. (Sam Robinson/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Nitric acid can dissolve precious metals such as silver, but gold does not dissolve in nitric acid. This makes nitric acid excellent for cleaning pure gold. Nitric acid will remove all dirt and debris without harming the gold. Gold comes in different carats and degrees of purity. Therefore, consideration must be given before cleaning your gold jewellery. Gold-plated jewellery and gold of less than 14 carats could be damaged, so it should not be cleaned with nitric acid.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Safety gloves, goggles and mask
  • 5 per cent nitric acid solution
  • Glass containers
  • Distilled water
  • Glass stirrer
  • Tweezers
  • Vinegar

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  1. 1

    Wear safety gloves, goggles, protective clothing and a protective mask while handling nitric acid. Pour one cup of 5 per cent nitric acid solution into a glass container.

  2. 2

    Pour one cup of distilled water into the glass container. Use only distilled water as it will not cause a reaction with the nitric acid solution.

  3. 3

    Mix the solution with a glass stirrer. Be careful not to spill the solution. If you do spill the solution, pour vinegar on the solution to neutralise it.

  4. 4

    Use tweezers to place the gold in the glass container. Let dirt and debris dissolve off the gold for 10 minutes. Pour two cups of vinegar into the nitric acid solution to neutralise it.

  5. 5

    Pour two cups of vinegar into a separate glass container. Use tweezers to remove the gold from the nitric acid solution. Place the gold and the tweezers into the vinegar, and let them sit for 10 minutes to neutralise.

  6. 6

    Thoroughly rinse the gold and all materials used with distilled water.

Tips and warnings

  • Nitric acid is extremely combustible, corrosive and poisonous. It can burn skin on contact, and it can be fatal if ingested. Purchase the lowest strength solution of nitric acid available.

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