Are you looking for how to extract gold from rock? Look no further; you have come to the right place.
Gold prospecting is a sweet hobby but I have to tell you: nothing good comes easy. It involves some work. However, I am going to make the journey simple and relatable so you don’t think we are discussing rocket science.
In this guide, I am going to discuss methods that you can use at home.
Different Methods for Extracting Gold from Rocks
There are two methods of extracting gold from a rock. They are:
- Crushing the rocks
- Using mercury
Method 1: Crushing the Rocks
There are different steps involved in this method and I will list them for you to follow.
Tools You Will Need
- Metal container
- Metal rod
- Mining pan
Step 1. Wear Protective Gear
The act of crushing rocks is dangerous. So it is important for you to wear some protective gear.
Use earplugs to protect your ears from the loud crushing sound. Wear gloves to keep your hands safe from sharp points. And wear eyewear to keep shards from entering your eyes.
Step 2. Use a Metal Container
Take the rocks you want to crush and put them into a container. Use a metal one because of the force involved in the process. Any other type will give easily under the pressure of breaking the rocks.
However, choose a container you are willing to dispose of. This is because it is not coming back to you in one piece.
Additionally, don’t place the rocks in layers or put too many of them into the container at the same time. Doing this will make crushing them extra hard.
Step 3. Break Them with a Sledgehammer
This is where your sledgehammer comes in. Lift it and bring it down on the rocks. Hit them really hard. Keep hitting them in this manner until they become tiny pebbles.
If you can get a power hammer, you will have an easier and faster job of breaking the rocks.
I would like you to know of the option of lifting a very heavy object over them and letting go. But this is not efficient.
However, if you are a serious prospector of gold, consider buying a crushing machine. It will save you time and effort.
Step 4. Pulverize the Rocks
Take the metal rod and hit the tiny rock pebbles while they are still in the container. Imitate using a pestle and mortar so that you can completely grind the pebbles until they become really tiny.
Don’t let the rocks become too tiny that they easily pass through the holes which are in the mining pan. Otherwise, you won’t be able to separate the rocks from the gold.
Step 5. Put the Rocks inside the Mining Pan
Pour some of the ground rocks into the mining pan. Resembling a colander, this pan comes with sifting holes at the bottom.
Due to the heaviness of gold, if you put it in water, it will sink while other additives or minerals will rise and drift away.
Therefore, put the pan into a large bowl of water. Push down on the pan in a manner that does not allow its contents to tip into the water. If you see the rock powder drifting away, let it. There is nothing wrong with that.
Step 6. Shake to Reveal the Gold
When the mining pan is fully submerged, shake it until you see the gold resting at the pan’s bottom.
While you do this, you will see the other particles start to drift away from the pan, mixing with the water. This makes it easy to see the gold better.
Lift the pan out and remove any clear gold piece you see. Put the pan back into the water and shake it again to reveal more gold. Continue doing this until you are able to remove every piece of gold from the pan.
Method 2: Using Mercury
Much like crushing with rocks, using mercury to extract gold from rocks involves some steps.
Tools You Will Need
- Protective clothing
- Metal container
- Metal rod
- Chamois leather
- Airtight container
- Slices of potato
- Old saucepan
Step 1. Wear Protective Gear
Cover your eyes, ear, hands and body with protective gear before starting this process. This is mercury is highly volatile so is dangerous.
Make sure the gloves are thick and that the clothing covers your arms and legs. In addition, use shoes that are close-toed. If you can get your hand on industrial jumpsuits, use one.
Step 2. Break the Rocks
Drop the rocks into the metal container. Using the sledgehammer, break them into tiny pebbles. Make sure none is left without being broken.
In this method, you don’t have to pulverize the tiny pebbles to make them powdery. Mercury will do the job for you.
Step 3. Add Mercury
Pour some mercury into the metal container holding the tiny rock pebbles. Take the metal rod and stir everything so it mixes thoroughly.
As you do this, you will notice the gold in the rocks separating from them as it melts. The liquid gold will mix with the mercury and they will react, forming an amalgam.
You can get mercury in the form of cinnabar, a non-toxic mercury sulfide that occurs naturally. However, cinnabar becomes toxic when it is being used to extract gold.
If you live in countries such as Slovenia, Spain, New Zealand, Egypt and Peru, it is possible to harvest cinnabar for yourself.
I would like to point out here that extracting mercury from a thermometer is highly dangerous. Don’t do it.
Step 4. Pour Out the Amalgam
Spread the chamois leather on a flat surface and pour the amalgam out on it, at the center. Do this slowly and gently, making sure none of the amalgam spills out of the leather.
There will be leftover pieces of rock in the container. Leave them there; it will be a mixture of sulfur and rock.
Now, hold up the four edges of the chamois leather to form a pouch. Tie up the edges in order to secure the amalgam inside the leather.
The leather has holes in it that are not visible to your eyes. It will act much like a decorating tube for cakes, releasing unreacted mercury as you squeeze it.
Holding the tied part tightly, squeeze the part with the amalgam. As you do so, you will see tiny silver mercury beads dropping from the leather. These beads look pretty but are actually dangerous so don’t touch them.
So if you can’t touch them, how do you remove them?
Use the eyedropper to pick and drop them into the airtight container to dispose of them. You can drop the container at a recycling plant that accepts mercury or at a site for hazardous waste disposal.
Step 5. Extract the Gold
Bring the saucepan and pour out what’s left inside the leather. Be careful not to spill it. Make sure it is a pan you plan to dispose of after this use.
Take a potato and cut large slices from it. Then, cover the amalgam inside the saucepan with the slices. Ensure that all the amalgam gets covered by the potato slices.
Any type of potato works. But if you can lay your hand on a species that produces large potatoes, like the russet, that would be great.
Next, light a fire and put the saucepan over it. Move it from time to time so the heat applies evenly to the content.
As it heats, the amalgam melts and mercury is released as gas. This leaves only the gold in the saucepan. The job of the potato slices is to absorb the released mercury gas.
This method is quite dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. Mercury gas can still escape the slices of potato so it is important you work in a place with great ventilation if you are going to use this method.
At this point, you can choose to refine the gold immediately, depending on the amount, or simply store it raw.
Extracting gold from rocks looks like such a chore and a bore. But that is if you are not exactly interested in mining or prospecting for gold.
However, if you are, you will find that it is a great hobby, despite the work involved. Best of all, it is rewarding.
To wrap it up, there are two methods you can use to extract gold from rock. They are crushing the rock and using mercury.
Whichever method you choose to use, always remember to protect yourself properly. This is especially true for the mercury method.
- Use protective gear such as gloves, eyewear and earplugs
- Stay in a well-ventilated area, especially when using mercury
- Use the right tools to avoid undue injuries
This guide will help you follow the process safely. Ask your questions in the comments section, if you have any.