Why Can't I Ask a Simple Question and get a Simple Answer?

Gold Refining Forum

Help Support Gold Refining Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Staff member
Supporting Member
Jan 14, 2012
Ohio, USA
Many new members are frustrated when they first join this forum. They may have experience on other internet forums where it is common for members to ask simple questions and get quick answers. They join this forum in hopes of getting similar responses to their questions about refining.

These are some questions that have been asked:

  • "Here is my plea for help. I kept all the liquid, but how do I get the gold back?"
  • "I just have some CPUs I want to refine. Why won't someone just give me the best process to use?"
  • "How much 60% nitric per Oz of sterling silver.I cheched the site and saw no math on this.Just a simple answer would be great."
  • "I am not here with great expectations, just looking for a simple answer to a simple solution."
  • "How do I mix nitric acid with hydrocloric acid without killing myself or turning the house into a gas chamber?"
  • "why cant some just answer the question."

If you're new to the forum, you may feel like some of the members I've quoted above. You just have a little gold or silver you'd like to refine. You don't need someone to write a whole book for you and you don't want to spend years reading through the forum. You just need a quick outline of the best process to use for your material, like they show on YouTube.

The reason no one here wants to give these quick answers is simple. Every process used in recovering and refining precious metals is dangerous. Following are a few accounts written by members of this forum. Following each quote is a link to the post they've come from. These are their real life experiences.

extremespeed said:
I think you guys are looking at this form all the wrong way, if you didnt have the new guys asking questions wanting to learn there would be no forum or at least boring as ... This forum has changed at lot in the past 2 or 3 years. most people would be able to ask a question and it would be answered. Now its "use the search engine' or " did you read hokes book" now i have used the search engine and you know the answer i get. The same one "use the search engine" some people learn by helping others, so why cant some just answer the question. If you are getting tired of the same questions, then maybe you should let others answer refer them to some one on the forum. thats if you wanted to help the new guy. you see the problem is people want to do it them self and they see gold as easy money. and you guys not answering the questions buts them in harms way, being they don't want to read 350 pages with terms they know nothing about. so they just try doing it. In my case i read about half of hokes book, a lot in the forum, and went for it. my first step was making nitric acid with copper, ammonia nitrate, and hcl, did alot of research on that process alone. i felt confident enough to do it. How i was wrong, i tried it about 3 time one of the times i breathed in the gasses on accident didnt think nothing of it just how bad it smelled and kinda hurt my nose. from that point on i started losing my breath very easily. now i cant even walking up stairs with out stopping to breath. this happen 3 or 4 years ago. today i have PAH stage four i'm only 37 and doctors say i would be lucky to live another 5 years. I blame no one for my actions. i know there are a lot of guys or girls out there that are just like me. so maybe there should be a easy review. or a one on one, newbie and an official talking or guiding them cause now it like a door closed on you. If i was asked about the dangers of making nitric acid i would answer it 500 times a day cause i know i would save a lot of people, there lifes. another thing you can do is make this a closed group and you can have a bunch of old grumpy men saying nothing cause they read the book and this forum. its alright go ahead and remove my post or band me what ever. i just thought something should be said.
Mandatory reading material for new Help Needed Posters

ms32462 said:
well i had my first and last accident with platinum.. wed last week i was checking the color when a big strong wind blew some vapors in my face just checking the color nothing else bought me to my knees then rushed to icu with burnt lungs and could not breath doc put me on striods and if that did not work ventulator was next but i did work... overnight at icu for observation and let go the next day i learned a value lesson dont matter what u are doing always use safety gear i will be back next week finishing up what i started and all safety gear is ready ya its my mistake and stupid on my part just wanted to share a little but i know 100% of people on hear are safe but please wear all gear for about 2 hrs i was fighting for my life thanks

ReapHer_6 said:
Ok, The first real issue I had was late, well into the AM and I heated up some AR (with a touch of sulfuric) to speed out the "storm". I never do what I did next, why I did it?? WTF knows...I reached over and picked up the 35% peroxide... well I never pour, I always use a new pipette... I really don't know what I was thinking to begin with....anyway I tilted the peroxide over the heated solution, and I bet you can guess what happened next, Your probably holding your breath right now shaking your head saying..oh no...well in an instant I was on the floor, and covered in hot AR. Now the really bright side. I read what to do in case acid got on me (from this forum). I have 2 five gallon buckets of clean water at either side of the bench along with 2 wide mouth 1 liter Wheaton’s full of lab grade baking soda . I poured the water over my arm and onto my head. Since I am new to this I use a full face PAPR setup. I then reached for the baking soda... I tell you this. Time never felt like that.. I don’t even remember the peroxide leaving the bottle, but not only did it (I would use explode but it didn’t actually) expand so violently It knocked me out of my chair but I found the peroxide bottle on the other side of the lab. Lastly I never, I mean never moved so quickly to the water and got wet... Had it not been for this forum I would have dumped the soda on me first. Anyway I came out of it without a scratch, or even a sign of a burn.
It's Time to go legit

Geo said:
dont do any process that contains nitrates inside without a fume hood, even a well ventilated inside space. remember that NO respirator will filter nitrogen dioxide fumes. keep in mind as well that AP solution used inside a shed or garage will do terrible things to any metal within the enclosed space. if you dont have a fume hood, its advisable to do these processes outside.

i have COPD and am on every medicine made for the ailment and have never smoked a cigarette in my life. the one factor that i can think of that could have been the cause is, many years ago i made nitric acid for my dad and some friends that were prospectors on a daily basis for months at a time.i had no idea that i was killing myself and that the effects would cause the suffering i go through now just trying to breath.all the days of coughing up blood and feeling sick all the time, i had no idea it was because of what i was doing. this is why i push safety like i do.im not trying to frighten anyone but trying to inform them that this stuff can be done safely.just dont take it for granted that this stuff is not as harmful as people let on.
Refining gold from connector pins

Irons said:
Arsine was the main culprit as well as AsCl3, and Amine based Arsenicals.. Any time volatile heavy metal compounds are created, they become a severe health hazard. Even electronic scrap contains some Arsenic because it's used as a dopant in semiconductors and Gallium Arsenide is a major component of LED's. Precipitating PMs in solutions that contain Arsenicals with Zinc, Aluminum and other base metals can and probably will generate Arsine (AsNH3). 135 PPM of Arsine in Air can kill you straight off and it's a bad way to go. About a year ago, it sent me to the Emergency Room. My urine looked like Tomato Juice and I knew I had been poisoned. My suspicions were right. You cannot believe how sick you can get until you've been poisoned by Arsenic. It's very painful. It will make you wish you were dead.
Thanks Harold

Tub Buster said:
Last weeked (this is Wednesday), I picked up an interesting rock that I found at a park. It appeared to have a gossan-like iron oxide stain and metal inclusions. I crushed it up and applied hydrochloric acid. To my surprise, this produced a bright yellow liquid with a pungent odor. I filtered and put the liquid in a covered container with some iron, and the next day it was clear, and the substance had coated the iron. Additionally there was .6 gram of material of the base of the container.
It is orpiment, arsenic ore. And I'm experiencing the classic "flu-like symptoms", especially a sore throat and cough.

I want to thank Irons and others for their warnings -- I did recognize it pretty fast, but not before inhaling enough of the gas to cause some problems. I'm waiting for results from some tests at this point.
Well that was an impressive amount of damage for a few seconds' exposure. The doctors tell me the outer layer of the mucus membrane in my throat, and part of the bronchia and nasal passages were destroyed, which is what caused the flu symptoms. Apparently it takes about 3 weeks to grow a new layer, so for now the least bit of dust or allergen makes me cough. A HEPA air cleaner helps; air conditioners are troublesome.

A week after exposure, some of the epithelial cells on my eyes shedded off, and I got conjunctivitis. The infection spread to the other exposed tissue. It is responding well to antibiotics.
Metal Fume Fever

Irons said:
..and Ruthenium Tetroxide detonates at 109 Deg. C. I was near a fume hood when some Ruthenium Tetroxide we were distilling detonated. It wrecked the hood and contaminated the lab. It was a very expensive accident. That was my first introduction to Ruthenium poisoning.
Separation and Purification Au,Pt,Pd,Ag,Rh,Os,Ir,Ru

lazersteve said:
1) The bulk of the cloud remains over the bucket in a cone shape that is big at the top and the size of the mouth of the bucket at the bottom. Of course the wind and temperature is going to influence this. The cloud will stay low to the ground when it's colder. The main concentration of the fumes is in the red portion, but not all of the fumes are visible.

2) I did the reaction outside on a average spring day. I held my breath the one time I got within 15 feet of the bucket when the cloud was present (to cover the bucket with an inverted plastic garbage can). I keep my face away from the bucket. I tried not to breath at all until I was at least 20 feet away. I wore gloves and tight goggles at all times.
BFRC precautions when using AR

lazersteve said:
I've personnally processed a 10# batch of cpus and fingers using Poor Man's AR and the BFRC lasted no less than 3 hours. I did this outdoors and was very concerned for my pets and myself.
Nitrogen Dioxide MSDS

kadriver said:
Each large container holds smaller pails containing honeycombs and beads that are leaching in diluted HCl and bleach.

By dilute HCl I mean 50% tap water and 50% HCl from lowes. HCl from Lowes is 31.45% concentration.

Using dilute HCl reduces the amount of acid used and reduces the amount of sodium carbonate that must be added before precipitating with zinc.

The bleach additions cause chlorine gas to form and this gas is what dissolves the PGMs from the cat honeycombs and beads.

I am always very careful working around these containers because the gas is deadly.

I accidentally got a whif one time and I had to sit down for a minute. It nearly dropped me to my knees!

This stuff is very dangerous - the large containers do a good job of containing the gas during leaching.

As long as this lids are on the big containers and tight, then I can not smell chlorine at all.

HCl/Cl Leach of Honeycombs and Beads PHOTOS

goldsilverpro said:
I should also mention the smell when using a sulfite to drop the gold - SMB, sodium sulfite, etc. After stirring well, when you have gold left in the solution, you will have little or no smell of sulfur dioxide (SO2). The sulfite chemical reacts with the acid and produces SO2 - actually, sulfurous acid, when in solution. When you have excess gold, less than enough sulfite will completely react with the gold and drop it and there will be no free SO2 and, therefore, no smell. When the gold is out, you will have free SO2 and a strong smell. I know I haven't explained this very well.

Warning: Do not stick your nose directly over the container to smell any chemical. Always keep your nose to the side and use your hand to slowly wave a little of the fumes to your nose. In the case of SO2, it doesn't take much to be able to smell it. I remember once opening an unmarked gallon jug full of an innocuous looking water-clear liquid and foolishly stuck my nose over the opening to smell it. It contained ammonium hydroxide and I was literally knocked to my knees. From that point, I ALWAYS used the hand wave method.
Stannous chloride Colors?

I hope these accounts will help you to understand some of the hazards involved in what we discuss on this forum. I sympathize with those who just want a quick answer to a simple question. As you study, you'll find that those who have taken the time to educate themselves will, indeed, get quick answers to quick questions. But no one on this forum wants to be responsible for helping a new member hurt themselves or others around them. Please, take your time and follow the advice of those who've come before you. Here's a good place to get started: Tips for Navigating and Posting on the Forum.


Edited to add a link to a post made by kadriver: Gold Miner Dies Among Chemicals.
Last edited:
AWESOME job once again Dave --- this is another one that needs to be made a sticky so that it is quick & easy to find & post as a link to new members such as I did here in this post :arrow: http://goldrefiningforum.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=21414&p=221004#p221004

Thanks guys. These posts are scattered all over the forum. I just brought some of them together and added a little emphasis. I appreciate the courage of the members who posted their experiences. They could have kept quiet about their accidents, but they related their experiences to warn others of the dangers.

I hope others will add to this thread. It's one thing to tell new members that what we do is dangerous. It's another thing to provide real examples of just how quickly accidents can, and do, happen.

Kurt, you can just give them the link to the Tips post. I added a link to this post to the index of the Tips thread. Actually, I cross linked the two threads, so either one will work.

Thanks, Dave.

Many people get complacent about working with dangerous chemicals. In industry, we have to conduct process safety reviews and plan out A-Z what goes on with our science.

At a minimum, I think anyone who is undertaking something like this for the first time had better to be able to do the following:
1. Do due diligence. What can go wrong? Is there a safe, secure area to work? Consult a MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) for each chemical used;
2. Do the math. Write up the chemical equations, balanced with the right stoichiometries (if anyone needs help), that represent what is going on chemically;
3. Be organized so you can learn. Keep a lab notebook/written record of your notes and all of your work, also including synopsis of the hazards and what steps you plan to take to mitigate them;
4. Be responsible. Don't mess with materials that generate wastes that can't be treated with simple neutralization. Keep wastes organized, dated, labeled and dispose of them responsibly.
It is really great to see that you treat this Forum so seriously and as you have pointed out, this refining can be very damaging to one's health. I shall now do lots of study myself using your suggestions to do same .
Thanks Cheis
Thank you everyone for your comments.

Lou said:
At a minimum, I think anyone who is undertaking something like this for the first time had better to be able to do the following:
1. Do due diligence. What can go wrong? Is there a safe, secure area to work? Consult a MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) for each chemical used;
I'll take Lou's advice one step further. You should also be familiar with the MSDS for each chemical that may be produced in your reactions. For example, vinegar is pretty harmless, and solid, metallic copper isn't much of a threat, but if you combine the two you create copper acetate which is an irritant and a permeator, meaning it can be absorbed through intact skin.

Why can't I ask a simple question and get a simple answer? Something I've gladly learned a couple of days after joining was that there is not a simple answer in chemistry specially when working with nocive acids and fumes ... and how nocives! Thank you all for this.
There is a whole psychological science about experts and expert knowledge, - really interesting.

Only one point I remember: Expert knowledge makes you choose the correct decission in a new situation oftenly without knowing, why you made this decission. In a complex, mostly unconscious cognitive work our brain is comparing the new situation to former experiences and learned patterns within a part of a second.

I think we are mostly talking about "expert knowledge", while the word "expert" owns a social component: The expert is someone, others are listening to, before they make a decission.
Why Can't I Ask a Simple Question and get a Simple Answer?

From my point of view:

You can, if you are asking a simple question to a simple subject. If the subject is complex, there can't be a simple answer, that is correct. Or, the more simple the answer is, the more wrong it will be.
Dave, thank you for quoting me. I would love to think that I made a positive impact on someones well being. I'm not optimistic enough to hope that it will actually steer someone's actions to a safer coarse but one can always hope. I would like to be the poster child for "uneducated decisions that will alter your life".
solar_plasma said:
Why Can't I Ask a Simple Question and get a Simple Answer?

From my point of view:

You can, if you are asking a simple question to a simple subject. If the subject is complex, there can't be a simple answer, that is correct. Or, the more simple the answer is, the more wrong it will be.

I love keeping things "simple stupid".
solar_plasma said:
Why Can't I Ask a Simple Question and get a Simple Answer?

From my point of view:

You can, if you are asking a simple question to a simple subject. If the subject is complex, there can't be a simple answer, that is correct. Or, the more simple the answer is, the more wrong it will be.

E=mc2 :mrgreen:
Palladium said:
solar_plasma said:
Why Can't I Ask a Simple Question and get a Simple Answer?

From my point of view:

You can, if you are asking a simple question to a simple subject. If the subject is complex, there can't be a simple answer, that is correct. Or, the more simple the answer is, the more wrong it will be.

E=mc2 :mrgreen:

Nice example for a simplification, that works pretty well in its context. If you start to explain the context and the consequences, it will get complex very soon. Coming with an equally short world formula would be more impressive. :mrgreen:
I am new here and am overwhelmed with material. It feels great. I now realize that what I thought would be a quick simple way to refine e-waste is going to become a new hobby. I estimate I have a long way to go remembering the chemistry and learning a bunch of things before I even think about starting. I look forward to refining some gold BUT more importantly I look forward to living to try a second batch.

Latest posts