How to Remove Gold Finish to Sell

By Jerry Garner

  • Overview

    Sooner or later, we all have technology that needs to be replaced. Cell phones, computers and other high-tech gadgets will eventually wear out or become obsolete. Many people simply discard these outdated devices, when they could be harvested for a variety of precious metals, including gold, silver and palladium. Plated jewelry that is broken or unused can also be used as a source of precious metals, since the gold can be removed from the surface of the jewelry. If you have any microchips or other gold-plated items, follow the steps in this guide to learn how to remove the gold finish so that you will have straight gold to sell.
    • Step 1

      Gather the gold-plated scrap that you want to remove the gold finish from. Pins on circuit boards, central processing units (CPUs) and old gold-plated jewelry are excellent sources of raw material. Cut away as much non-gold material, such as plastic, as possible to help speed up the process of recovering the gold.
    • Step 2

      Take proper safety precautions for working with chemicals. The most efficient way to remove the gold finish is through a process known as reverse electroplating. This involves working with chemicals, and safety precautions should be considered. Wear rubber gloves and, if possible, a rubber apron. You should also wear goggles or a face shield.


    • Step 3

      Make an electrolyte solution. This solution serves as a chemical bath to facilitate the process of reverse electroplating. The best solution for this process is 70 percent sodium cyanide (NaCN), 15 percent sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and 15 percent sodium meta nitro benzene sulphonate. Pour these ingredients into a glass jar and stir them together with a glass wand. These chemicals can be ordered online at ScienceLab.com, or from any other chemical retailer.
    • Step 4

      Prepare the power source for the reverse electroplating process. This process requires electricity in order to work. Purchase a large 9- or 12-volt battery, the type that is like a large rectangle with positive and negative terminals on the top. Attach an alligator clip to one end of two different pieces of wire. Connect the other end of each wire to one of the terminals on the battery, so that you have one wire connected to each terminal (both positive and negative).
    • Step 5

      Connect the wire leading to the positive battery terminal to your gold-plated items. Simply clip the alligator clip onto the item that you want to remove and recover gold from. This will be the anode in your reverse electroplating process and will give the gold a positive electrical charge. Lower the gold into the electrolyte solution after it has been attached to the alligator clip.
    • Step 6

      Make a cathode for the reverse electroplating process. Stainless steel is the best material to use for the cathode. Simply attach a small piece to the alligator clip that is wired up to the negative battery terminal. This will give the stainless steel a negative electric charge. Carefully lower the cathode into the electrolyte solution. Once both the anode and cathode are in the solution, an electric circuit will be formed.
    • Step 7

      Wait for the electrochemical process to carry out. The gold will receive a positive charge and be slowly dissolved by the electrolyte solution. Since opposites attract, the floating gold will then be attracted to the negatively charged piece of steel. When all of the gold has collected onto the cathode, remove it from the solution and allow it to dry. The gold can then be peeled off of the steel and set aside until you have enough to sell.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Ingredients:
    • Scrap electronics
    • Thick rubber gloves
    • Rubber apron
    • Face shield
    • Glass jar
    • Battery (9 volt or 12 volt)
    • Wires (any size)
    • Alligator clips (2)
    • Small stainless steel rod
    • Sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
    • Sodium cyanide (NaCN)
    • Sodium meta nitro benzene sulphonate
    • Tip: If you would like to further refine the gold you removed, soaking it for 24 hours in a bath of Aqua Regina will result in pure 24k fine gold.
    • Warning:
    • Expect some chemicals, such as Sodium Cyanide, to be restricted and require a special license before you can obtain it. Submit an application for a license, citing gold refining as your intended use. A license will be issued in 2 to 4 weeks.

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