also see investigations

Mechanical extractions from c-waste

  • Mechanical removal of components using hand tools and heat guns

Chemical extractions from c-waste

IC chips

  • Heating to make chips brittle
  • Smash up with hammers - to powder if possible.
  • precipitation of gold following Aqua Regia process below

Ic's after aqua regia

Gold Extraction

Removing gold connectors - Nitric Acid process

  • NB. Wear Masks when directly mixing acids or standing over acid reactions
  • NB2. gold pins (detached from connectors, cpu's) as well as finely crushed IC's and pcb/finger contacts can all be processed (but best separately) using these processes

Nitric Acid Process (dissolves base metals including copper, lead, tin, nickel which otherwise inhibits gold precipitation etc)

  • 1) Add 1 part Nitric Acid to 2 parts Water (never add water to acid!!)
  • 2) add in crushed ICs, cpus etc
  • 3) Heat to around 70°C for an hour
  • 4) filter and collect residue for Aqua Regia process

Test for removing cpu gold pins following above recipe:

Test (1 cpu, 10ml nitric acid, 20ml water) after 1 minute over meths. burner

Test after 1.1/2 hours, most pins are out, remaining acid/water has become green/blue

After 1.3/4hr after all pins free, water was added to residue to dilute; cpu removed and the gold pins washed off cpu and beaker with a water spray, before filtering through a coffee filter

Washed through chemical paper filter (diluted acid residue to right of image)

Pin connectors after Nitric Acid bath

Remove gold plate from connectors - Electrolytic Method

To recover the gold plating from pins -

  • cell bath of 98% solution of sulphuric acid, lead cathode and spooned copper anode - put pins in the copper anode
  • battery charger to pass current through the cell - copper in the anode dissolves and is deposited on the lead cathode - the gold, detached from the copper, forms a sediment at the bottom of the cell, which is allowed to settle

Gold plated pins etc. after electrolysis

  • remove as much acid as possible then adding residue to water (nb: never the other way round) to dilute
  • filter diluted sulphuric acid and metals

  • dry under heat lamp/oven
  • then follow Aqua Regia or Hcl + Chlorine Method procedure to make gold soluble before precipitation

Making soluble gold - Aqua Regia

  • NB. gold pins (detached from connectors, cpu's) aswell as crushed IC's and pcb/finger contacts can all be processed (but separately) using aqua regia
  • nitric acid, hydrochloric acid 1:3 (= aqua regia)
  • add residue/scrap from Nitric Acid process (approx. 1g scrap/4ml AR)(= toxic fuming) and either gently heat for 1-2 hours or leave to stand for 3 hours

pin connectors placed in fresh Aqua Regia

  • important that all free nitric acid removed – here you might need to follow the process purifying leachate (see below) – ie. so that there is no more 'bubbling' reaction

bubbling reaction producing nitric oxide

  • once reaction settled, pour off aqua regia into new container -

left with chloric auric acid – will look green/brown if still has other metals. If it is mainly gold it will be yellow-brown, or yellow if of high quality gold.

leave overnight to settle

then precipitate gold with ferrous sulphate process (below)

pcb/cpu scrap after aqua regia

Making gold soluble - Hcl + Chlorine Method

  • dissolve the filtered residue (various metals and impurities) in hydrochloric acid (35%) and a 5% chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite eg. Domestos), proportion of 2 to 1

  • reaction is highly exothermic and nb. chlorine gas produced
  • dissolves the gold to form gold(III) chloride - 2 Au + 3 Cl2 → 2 AuCl3

  • filter all impurities to leave gold(III) chloride solution
  • recover the metallic gold by precipitating with ferrous sulphate (see below)
  • let settle and recover the brown powder by filtering
  • melt with gas torch (propane) on ceramic/alumina blanket - melting point of gold is approx. 1064°C

Precipitation of Gold with ferrous sulphate

1] dissolve copperas (ferrous sulphate) in warm water – is difficult to quantify so make in ½ cup sizes first

ferrous sulphate or 'copperas'

2] add a little Hcl to copperas solution until turns 'apple green'.

3] slowly pour copperas solution into chloric auric acid /leachate while stirring (glass rod/similar). The gold will appear as a dark brown cloud.

If there is no bubbling (ie. nitric acid still reacting) leave and allow to settle overnight. If still reacting see purifying leachate below.

nitric acid still reacting

Take a sample from the top of the liquid and add to a test tube and then add a small amount of ferrous sulphate – if a brwon cloud appears then not enough copperas has been added – add more copperas solution to the main leachate solution and leave to stand – repeat until no brown cloud in test tube sample.

settled overnight

4] siphon off as much liquid as possible and filter the remaining.

siphoned residue before filtering

Wash with water and wash brown powder from filter into small pyrex dish.

5] add hot water to dish, let settle, drain and repeat 6] Cover brown powder (gold) with Hcl and boil off to dissolve yellow copperas mud from gold

7] pour off remaining acid and wash with hot water

8] filter down into a lump, dry and put in to alumina boat/cermic blanket and melt with MAPP gas torch.

Purifying the Leachate

  • add small amount of sulphuric acid to the AR solution to remove any lead trace
  • boil down slowly on hotplate (without spattering)
  • add some Hcl → if brown fumes then still free nitric acid/oxide still present
  • boil down again and re-add Hcl and repeat
  • repeat until no more smoke
  • dilute remaining 'syrup' with ¾ times voume with hot water and leave to stand for at least one day so that solution separates and becomes clear (uncontaminated)
  • filter into container, clean beaker and pour back in

continue to precipitation of Gold with ferrous sulphate (see above)

NB. if the bubbling reaction continues during the precipitation of Gold with ferrous sulphate process keep adding copperas to the solution until stops bubbling – then add copperas to make the brown cloud and follow rest of process.

Precipitation of Gold from Aqua Regia with sodium metabisulphite

nb. ferrous sulphate method of precipitation preferred - this method was tried unsuccessfully (eg. re. online discussions on addition of urea etc)

  • slowly add sodium metabisulphite (or sodium bisulphite) to the aqua regia/chloric auric acid and stir (separates other metals from gold)
  • allow to separate and pour off aqua regia
  • let settle and recover the brown powder by filtering
  • wash and dry remaining gold (brown) powder
  • melt in digital furnace in graphite crucible or with gas torch (propane/map pro) on ceramic/alumina blanket - melting point of gold is approx. 1064°C

Silver Extraction

  • add pcb/cpu parts to 70% nitric acid + medium heat to accelerate reaction (2 hrs) (room temp. = 10 days)
  • gold pins etc. should become free for AR process; acid will be blue from dissolute copper components
  • filter acid into new container
  • slowly add table salt (to the acid solution), stir occasionally → silver chloride will precipitate
  • leave for some hours → silver chloride will fall to bottom of container → pour off acid
  • add a little hydrochloric acid, immerse a piece of zinc in the same solution. Attention: This is an exothermic reaction!
  • after a few hours, metallic silver becomes noticeable.
  • filter, rinse, dry and melt!

(adapted from http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=156000 )

also note iron redox: (add water, 1/10 quantity sulphuric, stir with iron)

we can also extract silver from silver nitrate with electrolysis.

Palladium / Platinum Extraction

Purification of Platinum/Palladium from: Platinum

  • Completely dissolve the scrap metal in Aqua Regia (AR)
  • Filter the insoluable Silver Chloride (AgCl) out of the AR.
  • Add Iron Sulfate or Gold Sulfite to the AR, in order to precipitate gold.
  • Filter out the precipitate.
  • Add Zinc powder to the remaining AR, in order to precipitate all other metals.
  • Filter out the Zinc precipitate (which contains Cu and Platinum Group Metals (PGMs)) and discard the AR.
  • Wash the precipitate thoroughly.
  • Add the Zn/Cu/PGM precipitate to a mixture of dilute sulfiric acid and hydrogen peroxide. This will dissolve the Zn and Cu, but leave the PGMs on the bottom.
  • Filter out the PGM and boil it in Nitric Acid, in order to remove Palladium
  • Filter off the nitric and use zinc and sulfiric acid to reclaim the Palladium
  • Boil the remaining PGMs of Pt, Rd, and Ir in AR acid. Rd and Ir sink, Pt dissolves in the AR
  • Filter out the Rd and Ir
  • Add Zinc to the AR that only has Pt left in it.
  • Filter out the precipitate.
  • Wash the zinc/platinum precipitate in sulfiric acid to remove Zn.
  • Melt the final platinum powder with an oxy torch.

Extractions from Rocks and Ores

Releasing minerals from the rocks:

  • Crushing/powdering the rock using steel mortar and pestle eg. a tube a foot high (30cm) and aprox 4” (10cm) diameter and closed at one end with a foot plate, and a pestle of a hardened steel bar. Rock samples are dropped into the tube and beaten with the steel bar until they are crushed sufficiently <2mm. The crushed rock is panned/sieved in water using cheap plastic pan (w. ridges).
  • Froth flotation technique (different variants for separating ores and algae): add two spatulas of the finely crushed ore to a large test tube and then add 3cm of water, then be shake. add approx. 2 cm of paraffin and 5 drops of a good quality detergent and shake again - bubbles should move up side of tube with metal filings - scrape and wash with distilled water. Scale accordingly. (basic DIY technique here: http://www.oresomeresources.com/library/utilities/download.php?id=195).
  • Dissolution of minerals - azurite (copper), pyrite (iron), arsenopyrite (arsenic), galena (lead), and sphalerite (zinc) in dilute hydrochloric acid - eg. place acid on ore and rub with steel to coat with the desired metal
  • Dissolution of minerals/electrolysis - malachite for copper → crush + put in filter/funnel over empty beaker → pour (dilute) sulphuric acid over chips, drain, repeat from beaker to beaker until solution sky blue (copper sulphate) → put foil/steel in to leachate (dissolution) or use electrolysis (battery charger).

Smelt Techniques:

  • Microwave oven - adapting to reach temperatures of 1500°C using alumina 'bubble' bricks, silicon carbide/sodium silicate doped crucible, insulated with ceramic insulation (eg. see: silicon_platelet_manufacture)
  • old arc welder
  • carbon and copper rods
  • high temp. insulating fire bricks (1600°C) (refractory)

copper - malachite

  • heat crushed/powdered malachite until no colour change, mix in carbon and leave fine layer over the malachite, heat again, cool and wash in water, melt in furnace/microwave at 1100°C

iron - haematite (ref. Georgius Agricola, Book IX de re Metallica; Al-Biruni. Chapter 33, Book of Stones).

  • roast - try quenching in water to shatter
  • crush
  • high temp burn (1200°C) with charcoal (try activated charcoal) + optional limestone (removes sulphur) → bloomery
  • smelt or smelt w. limestone as flux → slag (floats)
  • forge immediately

galena/lead sulphide

  • break up
  • melt
  • remove unmelted impurities (as lead has low melt point)

tin - cassiterite

  • melt (towards 1050°C) crushed and washed cassiterite with sodium carbonate (washing soda) as flux and powdered charcoal = tin (mixed with some slag and charcoal).
  • can mix in powdered malachite → bronze


synthesize silicon from silica sand (quartz sand) and follow procedure here - silicon_platelet_manufacture - but add boron oxide to silicon powder as flux before microwave melt



see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK4xL8D66Xg&feature=player_embedded

or high voltage using old microwave

also see use in Chrysotype Photography

gold/copper or st. steel electrodes + 500ml boiling distilled water + 20ml 0.5M sodium chloride (salt) + 10ml 0.5M sodium citrate

(0.5M x 58.44 g/mol of NaCl in 1 L of solution or 29.22 g of NaCl. → for 100ml = 3g NaCl….. 0.5M x 258g/mol of sodium citrate in 1l = 129g/mol → for 100ml = 1.3g of sodium citrate)

(drinking gold: Medievals - to increase intelligence & treat mental illness; in China used to promote immortality and defy bodily decay and ageing - joke using TM to out-Turing Turing and defy Halting Problem)


  • Volta's Pile

copper/zinc with filter paperbetweensoaked with electrolyte (sulphutric/copper sulphate/lemon juice/salt water….)

  • Concentration Cell

Copper Sulphate 30% solution in clay pot/roll of cartridge paper glued to floor of large pot, with the larger pot 2% copper sulphate solution…. electrodes both of copper(copper rocks)

see: http://www.funsci.com/fun3_en/electro/electro.htm

Silicon Precipitations

following based on The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments 1960 by Robert Brent and illustrated by Harry Lazarus

Silicon (from the Latin silez, flint) is the second most abundant element on earth - after oxygen. Almost half of waht we walk on is silicon. Its not found free in nature but rather as either silicon oxides or silicates, as for example, in oxide form in quartz, rock crystal, flint, garnets, amethyst, emerald and agate, and silicate form in granite, hornblwnde, asbestos, clay, feldspar, mica. Silicon is found in nature in combination with oxygen (mostly as the dioxide, SiO2) and in various silicates, that is, as salts of various silic acids.

Waterglass is a concentrated solution of sodium silicate (Na2SiO2)used as a glue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_silicate Von Wagner: http://www.archive.org/details/manualchemicalt00croogoog

Making Silic Acid (H2SiO2):

  • a) dilute 20ml Waterglass with 20ml Water
  • b) in separate container mix 10ml Hydrochloric Acid with 10ml Water
  • c) Pour the two mixes at the same time into a third glass container
  • d) Stand a stirrer upright in the mixture which will quickly gel so that the stirrer will stand upright

Making Silicon Dioxide:

  • Place some of the gel on a metal lid. Heat.
  • Some of the Silicic Acid (H2SiO2) gives up its Water (H2O) and turns into a greyish-white powder, Silicon Dioxide (SiO2)

Making Sodium Silicate/Waterglass:

  • a) In test tube mix 1g of the Silicon Dioxide with 2g Lye (NaOH) and 5ml of Water. Gently heat whilst moving the tube.
  • b) after filtering, a clear solution of Sodium Silicate (Na2SiO2) will be produced. alternative, w. sodium hydroxide (drain cleaner)


Making Silicates:

  • a) Dilute 5ml Waterglass (NaSiO3) with 5ml Water
  • b) Dissolve a small crystal of Copper Sulphate in Water and put in a pipette.
  • c) add a few drops to the waterglass to get the precipitate of Copper Silicate.

Growing a Silicon Jungle:

  • In a glass jar place a 1/2 inch layer of sand. pour on top of this a mixture of equal parts of waterglass and Water.
  • Place this in a quiet place. Drop in crystals of various salts including Iron Sulphate, Copper Sulphate, Alum, Epsom Salts. The crystals will send up 'shoots' and in a few hours the 'silicon jungle' will have fully grown.

Making Silicon Powder:

crude silicon conductor granule manufacture: http://vimeo.com/10828833

  • prepare a beaker of Hcl
  • mix 1g silver sand with 1g magnesium powder (make sure are very dry by storing w. silica gel)
  • lay in a horizontally fixed test tube
  • heat with gas torch and chase red glow through all the powder mix
  • allow to cool for 5min
  • pour/scrape into the Hcl to burn off unreacted magnesium and magnesium oxide.
  • pour away acid and wash/filter the grey residue → silicon powder
  • to smelt powder need a temperature of 1410°C → silicon platelets

Synthetic geologies

metals contained in computers commonly include aluminum, antimony, arsenopyrites (arsenic), barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, azurite (copper,) gallium, gold, galena (lead), manganese, mercury, palladium, platinum, selenium, silver, and zinc (those in italics are hazardous).

using heat, pressure, blunt forces, attempt to extract, breakdown and recombine minerals into amalgams or arrays eg. crude thermite reaction (up to 3000°C) entrained between powdered iron ore rock (haematite) with either powdered borax/boron acid (or both), magnesium, silicon, or bauxite (aluminium) + selected minerals = fractured solid of iron matrix + minerals - anthropoceneic fossilizations.

  • artificial fulgurite production - entraining comp. mineral powders into a silica sand base and applying high voltage electricity. see: artificial_fulgurites


copper filings coherer receiver, led, dipole antenna, bbq lighter, audio output - based on Nyle Steiner 1

Semi-conductor oscillator

semi-conductor oscillator using copper whisker, zinc ferrite (burnt galvanised sheet steel) w. audio output, based on Nyle Steiner 2

adapted with copper and cuprous oxide (red not black)

Health & Safety

Material Safety Data Sheet: Sulphuric Acid: sulphuric_acid.pdf

Material Safety Data Sheet: Hydrochloric Acid: hydrochloric_acid.pdf

Material Safety Data Sheet: Nitric Acid: nitric_acid.pdf

Material Safety Data Sheet: Sodium Hypochlorite sodium-hypochlorite-tech-msds.pdf

Material Safety Data Sheet: Hydrogen Peroxide msds-12_ch6204-28.pdf

Material Safety Data Sheet: Methylated Spirit: methylated_spirit_.pdf

Material Safety Data Sheet: Sodium Silicate: sodium_silicate.pdf

Material Safety Data Sheet: Liquid Nitrogen: liquid_nitrogen.pdf

Material Safety Data Sheet: 2-proponal 2-propanol.pdf

the_crystal_world/techniques.txt · Last modified: 2015/11/04 04:16 by crystal
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