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Has your gold jewelry been sitting in your jewelry box for years without being used and collecting dust? Or maybe you’re an artist hoping to use the unique hue and texture of gold for your next creation? Smelting gold is a popular choice for those with outdated gold jewelry that is mixed with other materials.
Smelting gold is a technique for refining and shaping metals that has been in use for thousands of years. The discovery of this process marked the beginning of the Bronze Age as gold smelting was used for the creation of new weapons for war.
Whether you are hoping to unleash your inner alchemist or you simply have extra gold at home, smelting is a simple process that you can do at home with the correct equipment and precautions. To see the most popular smelting kits just click here.
What Is Smelting?
Although many people have the misconception that smelting is the same as melting, it is important to note the distinction if you are planning on smelting gold. Melting is the process of changing a solid to a liquid using heat. Once this process is completed, the melted material cools and becomes a solid once again.
Smelting, on the other hand, involves changing the chemical content of the material. When you smelt, you are “burning off” the other materials that your gold is currently mixed with, creating pure gold.
Smelting is a process that can be done with other metals as well, such as copper, silver, and lead. Historically, smelting was used in the creation of cannons for WW1, and it now plays a part in the formation of smart phones.
This is an excellent hobby for those with a scientific streak and lots of extra metals at home since it is affordable and easily accomplished with the right equipment. Smelting gold is the ideal way to cleanse your gold of any sand, dirt or other metals making it more beautiful and valuable.
Why Smelt Gold?
Smelting gold is a great option if you want to make gold jewelry or art but you only have gold that is mixed with other materials. Using gold is a classy way to make your art stand out, and it’s a beautiful material for earrings or necklaces. Smelting gold is also useful if you have jewelry or gold pieces that you never use.
Selling pure gold resulting from smelting those old pieces will return more value and allow you to receive more cash with just a little time and effort. Gold smelting is also an alternative to gold melting since many people struggle to melt gold successfully.
Smelting Gold – Everything You Need to Know
There are a variety of methods that you can use for smelting gold, but the main equipment necessary is a heat source and a crucible, a heatproof container for the gold. Make sure that you research thoroughly and are completely prepared when you begin the process because without certain precautions smelting can be dangerous.
It’s important to pay attention to the material of your container to ensure that smelting will not cause it to crack. Additionally, having long, heat sensitive tongs is beneficial for transporting the gold.
It is important to wear heat-proof goggles and gloves when smelting gold in case of materials escaping from their container. Another precaution that frequent gold smelters often practice is having a separate area in which to perform the process, such as a workbench or shed a few feet from the house.
This ensures that your work will be further away if an emergency happens, which is always a good thing. Also, you would never want your children to happen across a heat source such as a propane torch, so having a separate work area is strongly advised.
Use Flux To Remove Impurities
This method of gold smelting uses a flux, a substance made of borax and sodium carbonate that removes impurities from gold. The first step is to buy a crucible container, used for holding the gold as it melts. This is a container created specifically for this process as it can withstand the heat used during the melting process.
A crucible is typically made of clay or graphite carbon, and it can withstand extreme heat.
If you can’t buy a crucible, you can instead use a potato to contain the gold during the melting process. To achieve this, cut a hole in the potato and fill it with gold. Make sure that you also have a pair of heat-resistance tongs for holding and moving the crucible or potato.
Once you have obtained all the necessary equipment for gold smelting, you can begin the process of adding flux to your gold. The more impure your gold is, the more flux is necessary to purify your gold.
There are many ways to create the flux, but the most common method combines borax and sodium carbonate, which is made by buying regular baking soda and heating it. Two pinches of flux for every ounce of gold is the standard amount, but you should use more for very dirty jewelry scraps.
Flux holds the gold particles together while simultaneously removing impure materials from the gold as the heat is increased. Make sure to take safety precautions when you perform this method!
Use a Healing Kit
If you do not have access to a crucible or flux, using an electrical furnace is another viable smelting method. There are electric furnaces available online that are designed specifically for melting precious metals such as gold and silver. These allow people to mix metals together and melt them at home and therefore are perfect for gold smelting.
If the gold item you are planning on smelting contains silver, copper or zinc, the level of heat necessary for smelting will be lower.
Another option for gold smelting is a 1,200-watt microwave. It is necessary that the magnetron in the microwave is located on the side or back rather than on the top. It is possible to purchase a microwave gold smelting kit or a kiln which you can then place on a kiln shelf in the microwave.
If you use a microwave for gold smelting, do not use it for cooking food again, since this can be dangerous.
Obtain Other Heat Sources
If you are unable to buy a microwave or electric furnace, you may have to be more creative when obtaining a heat source for smelting gold. A propane torch can be a successful heat source, and an added bonus is that it will melt the gold within a few minutes.
To use a torch, place the gold into a crucible, place the crucible on a surface that withstands heat, and point your propane torch toward the gold. Add chemical borax to the gold first if you need it to melt at lower temperatures.
If the gold in the crucible is fine and powdered, it is important to move the torch down to it very gradually to avoid blowing it around and to make sure the crucible is heated slowly to ensure that it doesn’t crack. An oxy-acetylene torch melts the gold faster than propane, which is important to keep in mind when buying your equipment. Hold your torch above your gold and move it slowly in a circle.
When the gold powder becomes red it has begun to heat up and you can begin to work the torch in gradually until the powder forms into a nugget-like shape.
Shaping Your Gold
Now that your gold has been successfully purified and melted, you can decide what to do with it. This decision depends on what you plan to do with the melted gold. Will you sell it, form it into earrings, or make other uses out of it?
If you are using a mold, pour the gold into the mold before it hardens and then allow it to cool completely. When deciding on a mold to use, it is important to ensure that the mold consists of a material similar to the crucible.
Many people shape their gold into the form of an ingot which is essentially an oblong block, similar to a bar. This can be a convenient shape and size if you plan on selling your newly purified gold since it is easy to weigh and transport in this form.
If you are creating jewelry out of the gold, smaller molds may be necessary in the shapes of your jewelry pieces. Packed sand inside a crucible can become a mold and can be carved, hollowed or otherwise shaped to the form you wish. The mold must be ready for your smelted gold immediately because it cools and hardens quickly.
Using these methods, any average person can become an amateur alchemist. Smelting gold is the perfect way to use your old jewelry or start a new craft, and you can use your new skills to make some money if you’re looking to sell your smelted gold.
Make sure to take safety precautions such as wearing goggles and gloves and keeping flammable materials far from the site of the gold smelting. Now that you know the purpose and steps of this process, get smelting!