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    How To Refine Gold Using Acid

    What Is Aqua Regia?

    The anonymous alchemist, “Pseudo-Geber,” was the first to document this acid-based technique for refining precious metals. aqua regia (Latin for "royal water") was the most popular method for refining precious metals such as Gold and Platinum. While this guide is focused on gold refining, aqua regia will also work for platinum, and includes tips for refining types of platinum.

    Whether you’re refining gold using nitric acid, sodium nitrate, or MX3, the procedure is essentially the same and pretty simple and straight forward:

    1. Metal is dissolved into solution.

    2. The materials that didn’t dissolve (stones, plastic, ceramics, etc.) are separated from the solution by either filtering or decanting the solution into another container.

    3. Free nitrogen ions that are in solution are neutralized by the addition of urea.

    4. A selective precipitant is added to turn the dissolved gold (and nothing else) back into solid form (particles).

    5. The solution is either decanted or filtered to recover the pure gold "mud."

    6. The gold mud is then rinsed, dried and melted.


    Why have I been hearing this term a lot lately?

    While the process is hundreds of years old, many dislike its dependency on nitric acid due to its toxicity and difficulty of use. However, in recent years the Aqua Regia method has experienced a resurgence in popularity due to the safer, drier, and more effective alternatives to nitric acid used, such as sodium nitrate and MX3.


    What can I refine using Aqua Regia?

    Although electronic scrap items are mostly plastic and ceramic, e-scrap refining is one of the most popular and profitable reasons people refine precious metals. Other popular items to refine include jewelry, catalytic converters, gold bars, and other related precious-metal-bearing items.


    Ready to begin?

    This four-part guide will help you learn how to refine gold using the aqua regia method with some of the most popular methods used by refiners.

    We're passionate about innovating the precious metal refining industry. It's our lives' work. You can call us or message us if you're stuck, want advice, or even if you have a suggestion to improve this article. We love to hear from other refiners, and we help everyone, even if they don't purchase anything from us.

    Part 1: Choosing Your Methods