How to Mine Gold From Old Electronics
Gold is found in almost all computer components – processors, motherboards, extension cards, memory DIMMs and so on. But can you make money mining gold from old motherboard connectors?
With the price of gold skyrocketing to a staggering $1500/OZ lately, a lot of people with little or average knowledge of the world of electronics have wondered about the famed “gold plated” connectors or circuits commonly found in your most frequently used household items, such as your computer.
But before going and cracking open your $1600 iMac, we should probably take a look at this experiment performed way back when gold was a mere $600/OZ by the fine people at Tom’s Hardware.
Grab some pliers and cutters and watch out for those connectors all over your all motherboard: memory slots, video and sound slots, IDE connectors. Be careful with it though, the gold layer is flashed or plated onto the connectors, so the more your harm the circuit cutting it, the less gold you’re bound to obtain.
In the end, you should end up with tons of pins, like these ones (these came from one motherboard alone, made somewhere in the late 90s, so if your motherboard hasn’t donated as many, dig deeper).
The chemicals used for this experiment aren’t commonly found in any garage across the world, but nonetheless, they’re available over the counter at your nearest “DIY Bombs and Electrolysis”.
Where I grew up, this was junior high chemistry, but I still can’t understand all that much about the electrolysis process. In short: they place the pins on the anode and a few micrograms of gold chemically detach from said copper and form a sediment at the bottom of the cell. This also requires sulfuric acid and a car battery charger.
Now it’s time for the separation process. Remember, the gold is still taking a bath at the bottom of the sulfuric acid solution. This is mostly done by diluting and then filtering the sulfuric acid solution. Use gloves. Or just don’t do it.
Now what you got is a filter filled with all sorts of metals and nothing that really looks like shiny new gold. It’s dissolving time. You need hydrochloric acid and sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Don’t breathe at all. The reaction will most likely kill you. When you’re done, filter it up again. Then precipitate it with water and powdered sodium metabisulfite. No, I don’t know what that is, just go and find some damn it.
Apparently this is powdered gold, which you later get to blow torch up to 2000 F in order to melt.
Voila: your beautiful golden ball, worth approximately $8 judging by the size in that picture at the current rate.
So what do you think? Is it at all worth it? Of course not, that is why we don’t even provide detailed instructions because we don’t want you to do this at home. However, this is a fun little experiment and we’d like to thank Tom’s Hardware for making the effort.
However, if you want to know more about recycling old computer parts for gold and what you can actually make with that, check out this little gem of a forum I came across. Stay gold!
Update: One of our readers emailed us this thorough estimate on the value of that little nugget. Interesting. Thanks Norman.