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May 9 2012 4 09 /05 /May /2012 12:38

I have compiled a list of sources for the elements that are available to the amateur chemist. Gold will be discussed here. 

 

Gold, the most well known precious metal, has been that way since antiquity. Gold is a yellow, malleable, dense (19 g/cm3 compared to about 11 for lead), and soft metal. It is sometimes found in the earth in nugget form. Although nuggets are becoming increasingly rare, a few are still found. More often, gold is scattered in tiny specks throughout quartz rock. There are several ways to extract this gold. One is to grind the rock to powder and place it in mercury. The gold and silver dissolve, forming amalgams, while the common dirt does not dissolve. The mercury is evaporated and recondensed to create "electrum", from which the gold and silver are separated. Another method is the cyanide process, where air is bubbled through a sodium cyanide bath with powdered gold ore submerged in it. The gold dissolves easily in this mixture due to complex formation with the cyanide ion. The solution is treated to obtain the pure gold. Gold metal itself is resistant to attack by most acids. However, a few acids, such as aqua regia and selenic acid, have the ability to dissolve gold. Gold easily alloys with other elements.

 

In element form: Gold jewelry or gold-plated jewelry is common. Gold-plated electrical contacts are also common. Gold bullion bars are available for sale from gold dealers.

 

In compound form: No sources found.

 

Here are my samples of gold. One is a piece of gold foil generously donated by my dentist upon request, along with a piece of lead foil. The other is a squashed piece of a gold plated electrical contact from a headphone jack.

 

Gold.JPG

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