Electroplating is the process of depositing a metal coating onto an object by putting a negative charge on it and submerging it in a solution of metal salt. This solution contains positively charged metal ions, which are attracted to the negatively charged item. This process is called "electrodeposition." Electroplating allows you to give new life to those objects that are looking a little worn, as well as jazzing up your old jewellery, and is an interesting activity which you can easily do at home.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Scrap gold
- Nine-volt battery with spring terminal top
- Two pieces of wire
- Two alligator clips
- Non-conductive container
- Electrolytic solution
Ensure the item you would like to gold plate is smooth by polishing it with a soft cloth or a buffing wheel for larger objects. Thoroughly clean the item to remove all traces of dirt, polish and other residues. If the object is tarnished, scratched, or dirty, the electroplating will not work well and the finished result will be messy.
Fill the non-conductive container with the electrolytic solution. The item you are plating needs to be completely submerged, so ensure the container is big enough and there is enough solution in it to cover the item.
Connect an alligator clip to one end of the first piece of wire and connect the other end to the battery. Repeat with the second piece of wire. Take the wire attached to the negative terminal and connect it to the item being plated.
Take the wire attached to the positive terminal, and attach your scrap gold to the alligator clip at the other end. Place the gold and the item being plated into the solution and simply wait for the process to complete. This may take several days, depending on the size of the item you're plating, and the density of the gold you are using to plate the item.
Tips and warnings
- Electroplating kits containing everything you need to get started are available, but be aware they are not cheap.
- If you do not have any scrap gold such as old jewellery, you can buy it from anywhere that supplies kits, but again this is very pricey.
- Electrolytic solution is available at some craft stores and online.
- Always wear rubber gloves and eye protection.
- Be aware that you are dealing with water and electricity, even if it is very small amounts and this carries certain risks.
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