Purifying gold in acidGold does not exist in nature in the same form that it is in jewellery that we buy. It often occurs as grains, flakes, masses or veinlets in rocks. After gold ores are excavated from the surface of the earth, they are ground to extract the metal. But the metal, at this stage, is not yet in its pure form as it still contains a variety of impurities, including copper, zinc, iron and silver. To eliminate these impurities, gold should undergo the purification process.

There are various methods used to purify or refine gold and they can be categorized into three: through the use of acid, use of fire, and use of electricity. These methods, however, vary in terms of complexity of the process, level of purification, and the costs involved.

Gold Purification Using Acid

Using acid for purifying gold is the most common and simplest approach to removing any impurities from this precious metal.

Two common types of acid used for refining gold are hydrochloric acid and nitric acid. These two acids are mixed in a beaker to create the purifying solution. Then, they are filtered before gold is added into the mixture. Upon contact with the solution, any other substances present in the ore and some other impurities are removed.

Gold Purification Using Fire

The use of fire or subjecting gold in a heating process is another common method of refining gold.

This process will require a clay crucible, filter, and burning furnace that can produce a heat of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Gold, then, must be placed in borax that is able to withstand the heat level. Gold must be heated until it is smooth before it is transferred onto another container to cool. After the metal has cooled, the resulting product is free of any impurities or other metal substances.

Gold Purification Using Electricity

The use of electricity is one of the latest methods used for purifying gold. This process is commonly referred to as the Wohlwill process. Using this method, the impure gold is placed in a solution made up of gold chloride and hydrochloric acid. Then, electric current is passed through that solution to remove the impurities from the gold. The impurities will then settle onto the bottom of the container.

Among all the methods of purifying gold, the Wohlwill process is considered to be the best as it produces 99.99 percent of pure gold compared to that of the other methods that is only 99.5 percent gold. The only drawback to this method is that it usually comes with a huge cost.

15 Responses to Methods of Purifying Gold
  1. I would like to learn how to refine gold from gold dust. I have good quantities now of gold dust made from river-bed collections. How can I refine this stuff? What is the best method? Which is the right equipment listing? Please, let me know.


    Philips Chimpeni
    Gold Collector.

  2. I would like to inquire how the Wohlwill process is done….can anyone make a homemade prototype of the process….thanks for the reply

  3. Philips Chimpeni, Gold Collector May 21, 2014 at 2:00 pm Reply

    While there are many better methods of purifying gold, the aqua regia method if one of the easiest. This can be achieved by small scale collectors. The challenges though are there, lack of proper panning equipment makes it difficult for many small scale collectors. In many countries like Malawi, it is difficult to find panning equipment on the market.

  4. how is 9ct gold purified using hydrochloric acid and nitric acid

    • by mixing concentrated hydrochloric acid and concentrated nitric acid
      the ratio is 3 concentrated hydrochloric to 1 concentrated nitric acid to make solution then adding gold
      the equation
      HNO3 + 3 HCl

  5. Hi there mates, its impressive piece of writing regarding educationand fully explained, keep it up all the time.

  6. Thank you ever so for you post.Really looking forward to read more. Cool. Hargitt

  7. subjecting gold to fire only melts gold and not any other impurity like silver

  8. i would like to say gold is very important

  9. How do I use hydrochloric acid and nitric acid to refine gold. what do I use to bring back the liquefied gold.do I have to use a beaker over a bunny Burnett just a glass beaker

  10. Great ! Thank you very much.

  11. What kinds of impurities attach with gold?

  12. Wow. Can I relate the secondary process to the process of being a Christian? Works almost the same way.

  13. Hi guys… I would like to know how to refine and purify gold pieces and gold shavings, possibly with a helpful home made solution please. I’ve tried researching and physically going to various places but NO luck as everyone don’t wana take raw gold. To obtain the right chemicals was even worse as they ask for JEWELLER TRADING PAPERS…I don’t have any of those….

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