Recovering gold from scrap can be profitable, particularly when melting down jewelry to get to the raw metal. Unprocessed gold sells for less than the purified material, although you need to ensure that you're not harming your profit margins by spending too much on the purification process. Recovering pure gold from scrap is easier than you might think. Unlike salvaging it from electronics or computer equipment, when you have pure gold scraps, the only thing you need to do is apply sufficient heat and collect what's left. Unfortunately, most gold scraps are not pure, and require chemical treatments to refine.
Learn more about refining gold from scrap. Refining it from electronics is far more challenging, as it requires heavy chemical treatments, complex venting for safety and in-depth research. Be prepared: What you thought was gold jewelry is actually mixed with many other metals, such as silver, zinc and others.
Consider contacting a gold scrap melting company as an alternative to running your own machine. It's difficult to learn how to work refining yourself, costs money for the machine along with the chemicals, and carries with it considerable risk of fire and fume inhalation. You could save yourself a lot of money by contracting the job out. The easiest way to find such a company is by searching online for "gold scrap refiner." If you're not satisfied with those results, contact a local jeweler and ask if he can put you in touch with any refiners. That way, you'll know the company you're contacting is reputable and pays fair rates.
Purchase a home refining system if you'd like to go through with the process yourself. You will also need to purchase the chemicals to run it. Track all costs to ensure that you're making a profit from refining the scrap gold. The two primary chemicals you will need are nitric acid and aqua regia. You can purchase these from chemistry supply companies. If you do not purchase a home refining system, you will at least need a chemistry lab equipped with a hood and properly working ventilation system.
Ask for advice, even if you think you don't need it. There are many gold refining communities online that bring together both hobbyists and professionals. If you decide to start with the process without learning from others, you could be putting yourself at serious risk.
Familiarize yourself with all the chemicals involved and the refining process with a home kit before you attempt to perform large-scale refining. The small scale kits will likely be completely unprofitable unless you have access to high-quality scrap at low prices due to the prices of the chemical inputs, but it will at least give you opportunities to learn more. As you get more comfortable with the process, and are certain you want to refine gold, consider investing in a proper laboratory and equipment.
Follow all instructions that come with your home refiner. Failure to follow instructions could result in serious harm to your health or property. Do not attempt to refine gold without a chemistry hood and working ventilation system. The reaction emits deadly chlorine gas as a byproduct. If you do not have the proper expertise or equipment, you could cause death or severe poisoning to everyone in your home.
- gold image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com