The simplest and cheapest way to retrieve the fine gold from the concentrates takes 6 simple steps.
When using lye, you should always wear safety goggles and use rubber gloves to avoid getting it on your skin or in your eyes. Take the same precautions when working with mercury, and in both cases do not inhale the fumes. Always work outside and stand upwind.
- Clean your concentrates. Fill your plastic gold pan about half-full with concentrates, and cover with water. Add one tablespoon of household lye to the concentrates and swirl it around for several minutes. This will remove surface impurities such as dirt and oils from the gold.
- Pour off the lye-laden water and add fresh water to it. Then add one ounce of mercury.
- Slowly swirl the contents with the mercury. As the mercury goes around the pan it will pick up all the finest gold in the pan. The more gold there is, the stiffer the mercury becomes.
- Once you have all the gold gathered, pan off the black sands or use a magnet in a plastic baggie to retrieve the black sands, leaving only the gold laden mercury and free mercury. The free mercury will roll around easily; gold-laden mercury is stiff and does not roll well. Place your mercury container INSIDE another gold pan and pour off the free mercury into the container. Using another pan keeps it from spilling out onto the floor or ground. If you spill mercury on the floor or – God forbid – the living room carpet, you will be inhaling evaporating fumes for years!
- Once you have a stiff ball of gold-laden mercury in the plastic pan, flush it out into a glass measuring cup. To this add a few drops of 10% nitric acid solution, until you get a bubbling or fizzing action from the mercury. !!! DO NOT BREATHE THE FUMES !!! The acid will dissolve the mercury as well as any trace silver. After a while, the fizzing will stop and you will see a bronze-colored metallic-looking blob…. It’s GOLD!
You can recover your mercury from the 10% nitric acid solution by placing a flat copper bar or copper sheet into the acid solution and letting it sit overnight. The next day the mercury will have attached itself to the copper. You can scrape the mercury from the copper, and put it back into your storage container.
- Carefully pour off the remaining liquid and neutralize the acid with baking soda, a little at a time until you get no reaction from the acid and soda. Gently rinse the gold in the cup with fresh water avoiding hard sprays that could rinse away your gold. Pour off the water and let dry. The remainder is your (95%-98%) pure gold!