I’ve done a great deal of research and have found out that many people are seeking the knowledge about reverse electroplating. There seem to be many videos, and forums that seem to just not understand how little the novice chemist knows about the many small details that it takes it get the desired results.
Reverse electroplating for gold recovery is designed with the hobbyist or small-scale recycler in mind. It is small, portable, easy to manufacture, assemble, simple to operate, requires minimal storage space, and is inexpensive compared to other commercial reverse electroplating processes available. While the unit may be small, its performance delivers volumes in recovery possibilities at phenomenal speed. This technic is capable of processing up to 1/8-pound of metallic, gold-plated materials at one time, and up to 3-pounds of material per session. Simply load the gold-plated materials to be de-plated, into the anode or copper basket, submerge it into the electrolyte solution. Across the anode basket is the stainless steel or lead cathode. Next, connect the battery charger leads, and watch the reaction commence. After several minutes, remove, rinse and discard the de-plated items, reload the anode basket, and begin the process anew. In most cases the stripping action is complete in less than a minute or so. The process digests very little of the base metals copper, tin, lead, and nickel. This thusly allows you the choice to sales of the remaining material to your local salvage yard.
When reverse electroplating gold, items are placed into a one chemical electrolyte, or drain opener containing concentrated sulfuric acid, which is easily obtainable from local sources. To operate a common manual automobile battery charger is used. This process is specifically designed to recover gold-plating from gold-plated, gold-filled or rolled-gold jewelry, necklaces, rings, gold-plated computer pins, hardware, gold-plated flat-ware, gold-plated eyeglass frames, and virtually any gold-plated metallic object. This method does not allow for recycling of the electrolytic solution. The cost of the electrolyte for each session is approximately $8.00 per 1-quart batch so when you consider that if you run 3-pounds of gold-plated pins or jewelry per session you will recovery upwards of $400.00 worth of gold, making the cost of the electrolyte trivial.
Testing Your Materials
A word of warning; be extremely cautious when acquiring gold-plated jewelry. If the jewelry is marked “Gold Tone”, “Toned Gold” or “Monet”, do not use it. It is not gold but rather a plating process called “Zinc Clad”. Running this material with the true gold-plated, rolled-gold, or gold-filled materials will cause recovery problems and will contaminate the final recovery product. If you are going to strip jewelry, I strongly suggest using a gold testing kit to insure proper recovery.
Set your system up, on a small table, in a ventilated area, outdoors. The fumes that emanate from this system can be foul. It is Sulphur based, and you know how that can be. Use newspaper and plastic under the system to catch small drips, spills, and discard it after each use. Wear disposable rubber gloves, and safety glasses. After the process is done and all the gold is removed from the item, have two 5-gallon buckets available. One with a mixture of hot water and sodium bicarbonate, or common baking soda, and the other with 4 gallons of tap water. Pour the solution slowly into the plain tap water bucket with the 4 gallons, and let sit for 24 hours. This allows the black gold to settle and seperate from the electrolyte solution. pour off the water as much as possiable without distrubing the black gold residue in the bottom of the bucket. Repeat this process 4 times, but only add 2 quarts of tap water to the bucket with the black residue in the bottom. Now pour the waste water into the other bucket, and use one box of baking soda to 5-gallons of water, and add a mixture of hot water and dish soap to neutralize the acid. If any electrolyte is spilled or comes in contact with your clothing or skin, immediately neutralize with the hot water sodium bicarbonate solution, and rinse with the hot water dish soap mixture. Never allow water, rain, perspiration, etc. to drip into the electrolyte. If water is poured into any acid a violent reaction will occur. There’s an old saying amongst chemists, “Do like you ought, pour the acid in the water”. Remember it! Last, let the water evaporate leaving the black gold residue.
Shutting the system down
If you discontinue running the system for any length of time, take an extended break, need to do some chores or whatever, it is quite simple to shut the system down. To do so, simply unplug the battery charger, and remove the positive and negative leads from the anode and cathode. Next, remove the cathode jumper wire, and place it in a storage container of some sort where it will stay dry. Finally, remove the cathodes and anode basket. Place them in some sort of container large enough to submerge them completely in plain tap water. Do not store them in the rinse water container. Cover the Pyrex bake ware dish and electrolyte with it’s lid, and walk away. When you wish to start-up again, just reverse the process, remove from the rinse water and thoroughly dry the cathodes and anode basket, re-assemble and the process is ready to go again.
If you are going to market your gold to a refinery, they will melt, homogenized, and assay your gold, paying you accordingly. You can only expect to receive about 95-percent of the gold value, but you get your money fairly fast. Gold recovered from gold-plated electronics is usually around 18k; however with the reverse electroplating gold recovery system the gold recovered is usually 98/99% pure.
A complete guide to reverse electroplating provides top secret information that only the master chemist hold. Removing gold form items can be a hobby or small scale recycling operation or business. First obtain the minimum materials to operate, and the production of.999 karat gold recovery from your gold plated scrap stock can be a way to obtain real gold for financial purposes.