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Rules of Solubility

1. Nitrates, chlorates, and acetates of all metals are water-soluble. No exceptions.


2. All Sodium, Potassium, and ammonium salts are soluble in water. No exceptions.
3. Chloride salts of all metals except Lead, Silver, and Mercury 1 (ous) are water-soluble.
E.g., Mercurous Iodide is insoluble. Water insoluble Chlorides, Bromides, and Iodides
are also insoluble in dilute acids.
4. Carbonates, Phosphates, Borates, Sulfites, Chromates, and Arsenates of all metals except
for sodium, Potassium, and Ammonia are water-soluble.
5. Sulfides of all metals except for Barium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, and
Ammonia are water-soluble.
6. Oxides and Hydroxides are water insoluble except for Sodium, Potassium, and ammonia.
(Hydroxides of Calcium and Barium are moderately soluble in water.

A field assay that you can do!

About halide leaching you know that solutions of Iodine will dissolve fine gold very rapidly.

All you need to do this assay is get some "Lugols Iodine". This is simply Iodine dissolved in a
solution of Sodium Iodide. You can buy this from any pharmacy. Just be sure that it is in water,
not "tincture of Iodine", that is in alcohol solution. You can make it yourself (see page on
Halides). You will also need a little dilute nitric acid, 2 normal or so.

Now, just take some material that you think might contain a significant amount of fine gold and
grind it, pound it with a rock or a hammer, or whatever until it is as fine as you can get it. Take a
measured amount of the sample and put it in some convenient vessel such as a large test tube, a
small baby food jar, or other. You can use whatever measure is convenient for you. Five level
tablespoons, one coffee scoop, etc.. You do want to use the same amount each time so that you
will have some idea of the amount of gold in the ore. At least you will be able to say that this ore
has more than that one.

Now, your ore is in the jar. Pour in the Iodine solution so that the ore is well covered. Shake it
occasionally for some time, maybe to 1 hour. Now you must remove the ore. You can let it
settle and pour off the Iodine containing the gold or you can filter it with a small funnel and
some coffee filter paper. The idea is to get the solution as clear as possible. Now you add a small
glob of mercury and shake. At some point the solution will lose it's red-brown Iodine color and
become a (usually) clear yellowish liquid with sediment of heavy floured mercury in the bottom
of the jar/test tube. Allow this to settle for a few minutes and then carefully pour off the liquid.
Add some water to the mercury, shake, allow it to settle, and pour off. Dont throw the liquids
away. Now you have your precious metals amalgamated in the floured mercury. Now you simply
add some nitric acid (not more than 50/50 with water) and dissolve the mercury. When the
mercury is all dissolved you will be left with a black or brown material that you cannot dissolve.
This is your precious metals. Dont throw the nitric solution away. Now take a good look at the
black sediment. Try to get a feel for how much there is so that you will have a comparative idea
of how much you have. You can buy, from chemical supply companies, a graduated, conical test
tube. If you run the assay in this you can simply read off the quantity of precious metals on the
scale engraved on the tube. Its a nicety that the old timers didnt have but it is convenient.

The reason I told you to save all the liquids is simple, we are going to recover all your Iodine and
mercury. The solution that contained Iodine is treated with a few drops of clorox. The Iodine will
settle to the bottom. The liquid is poured off and then you add a little lye water until the solution
becomes clear and colorless. Your Iodine is in solution ready to use again (see the page on
Halides). The nitric acid solution of mercury is treated by your favorite method to recover the
mercury.

Metallic Mercury can be recovered from solution by the addition of hydrogen peroxide in the
presence of alkali hydroxides such as Caustic Soda or Lye.

Mercury can be recovered from solution by cementing with Copper, Aluminum, Zinc, etc.

Super Clorox
I know that some of you have had some trouble using it because of the fact that the stuff from the
store is very weak. It is only 4-5% NaOCl, and 95 % water. For some things you have to add so
much that the water becomes a problem. Just too much of it. Too much volume. And, many
times you have to eventually get rid of all that excess water. Sort of a pain!

There are two pretty simple ways to skin that cat. First, and easiest is to just buy dry NaOCl
powder from a chemical supplier, make a 10-50% solution of it in water. You got it.

The other way takes a little more doing but HEY, this is Basement Chemistry too. Go down
somewhere and buy a bag of dry "swimming pool" Chlorine (Calcium Hypochlorite). Measure
out some. For example, 10 tablespoons Put it in a container that you can see through, and add
about 5 tablespoons of baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate, NaH2CO3). Now add about 250 ml of
water (or more, if you want a weaker solution). Don't fill the container too full cause it's gonna
do a little fizzing and bubbling. At this point it's gonna look like sort of a white paste. Not to
worry. Ain't gonna leave you hanging like that. Stir this mix around occasionally until you get no
more bubbling etc.

At this point you could just let it settle and pour off the top layer. Probably faster to simply filter
it through a coffee filter. The filtrate probably wont be perfectly clear but you will have gotten
rid of a lot of Calcium Carbonate, etc. Now you probably should dissolve a little baking soda in a
little water and add it to the near-clear liquid. This is a test to see if you put in enough soda to
begin with. If you get more white precipitate, add more soda until no more precitate comes
down. or you could filter this again but I usually just let it settle and pour off the supernatant, and
put it in a bottle.

Halide Leaching
The group of chemicals known as halides is composed of the elements fluorine, chlorine,
bromine, and iodine. We will ignore fluorine because it does not dissolve gold. The elements
listed above are in order of their molecular weights, density, cost, and reactivity. Chlorine is the
lightest, cheapest and least reactive while iodine is heaviest, most expensive, and fastest reacting.
Iodine is classified as a rare element. There are no ores containing iodine. It is obtained primarily
from extracting seaweed, hence, the high cost.

Iodine
If you want to store iodine, it is much better to store it in its reduced form so that it wont
evaporate. And, if you want to dissolve gold with it, it must be in its elemental or oxidized form.
To summarize, you must be able to shift the iodine (or other halide) from its oxidized to reduced
form. Im going to tell you how to do it.

When you want your halide in its elemental or oxidized form, simply add a little Clorox bleach.
If you add an excess, Iodine will precipitate from the water solution and settle to the bottom as
pure elemental, blue, iodine. If you want to dissolve the iodine, you must reduce it. This you can
do by adding a little Red Devil Lye dissolved in water. The blue iodine will begin to go in
solution so that the solution will first turn bright blue and upon addition of more Lye it will
become colorless as all of the iodine is reduced to sodium iodide.

Elemental (oxidized) iodine will not dissolve in water. So if it wont dissolve, how are we going
to use it? It has another characteristic. It will dissolve in solutions of sodium iodide. I didnt do
it, it just works that way. That fact gives us our way to dissolve gold.

Chlorine
99% of what I said about the use of iodine applies to both chlorine and bromine. The significant
differences are;

The price as discussed previously.

Solutions of chlorine are colorless so you cannot rely on the color to tip you off as to the eH of
the solution. With chlorine you will have to use an eH indicator dye which will not be readily
available, or (would I leave you with that problem?), you can use your nose instead of your eyes.
You will have to add oxidizer to maintain a little chlorine smell coming off the extraction.

So, what oxidizer do I use? Same as with iodine. You use chlorox. However, chlorox is very
weak and you would have to use great volumes of it to maintain some chlorine in solution. You
should use the stuff that chlorox is made of, sodium hypochlorite. This is a solid, white powder
which in a 5.0% solution is chlorox. This chemical can be obtained at any chemical supply. Now
if you cant or wont go to that effort there is still another alternative. You see, we never leave
you hanging without another way to skin the cat. Almost as good as sodium hypochlorite is our
old friend, swimming pool chlorine. This is calcium hypochlorite. It works very well. It just
doesnt dissolve very well. Again, we never leave you without a way to escape. Just add a little
lye solution and it will go right in. You have converted it to sodium hypochlorite. Dont add too
much, just enough to put it in solution.

Remember chlorine is very slow. You will have to maintain this system for several hours to a
day or more.
Like all of the halides, if you allow the solution to go acid, the chlorine will rapidly boil off and
if you are close by will be extremely uncomfortable. Bromine and iodine are not so bad. They
are not nearly so volatile and will give you a little more time to rectify the situation by addition
of a little lye water.

If you are extracting with halides, in particular, chlorine where you have no visual reference as to
what is happening, you should have some hydrochloric (muriatic) or sulfuric acid at hand. If
your reaction should start to slow down and you are sure you have an excess of halide in solution
you might have to add a little acid in order to liberate the halide from its salt form in order to
keep sufficient free halide to ensure a good extraction. If you can keep the pH at say 8.5 you will
be about right.

If chlorine production should get out of hand, you probably should have some solution of sodium
thiosulfate on hand. It can be bought from any chemical supply. This is the stuff that tropical fish
freaks use to treat tap water to destroy chlorine. You will need much more than they use
however. This is a good way to neutralize any solution you wish to dump. Your neighbors will
probably appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Bromine
In place of Liquid elemental Bromine, we can buy it in its reduced and cheaper form, sodium
bromide. After all, we know how to convert it to elemental bromine; it just takes a little clorox,
right? After all, thats what we are going to store it as anyway. When Clorox is added and the
bromine oxidized to its active form, like iodine; it exhibits a distinctive color, deep red.

Recovery of the Gold


Now we have our ore with a nice red-brown solution of iodine and, hopefully, a whole bunch of
dissolved gold in the solution. We cant sell it that way. Got to get it out and make it look like
gold. First we have to get rid of all the material that we have been extracting. This can be done in
a number of ways but probably the most Basement way is to filter it. Depending on the scale that
you are working you can use a coffee filter in a funnel or a piece of canvas in a 20 ft dia tank.
Anyway, filter it and try to get a rather clear solution. Remember that the solution must still be
red-brown. If it isnt, you have left your gold behind in the filter. This is why I insisted on your
being able to oxidize or reduce at will. KEEP IT RED-BROWN.

Once you have your red-brown solution free of material, now, you can let it go colorless or make
it go colorless by addition of the Lye solution. Your gold will now slowly settle to the bottom as
a black powder. Or, you can filter the solution through a fine filter to recover the gold.

Great, we got a whole bunch of gold but if we lose that iodine we are still going to be in the hole.
Remember, at this point it dont look like iodine but it is still there. By this time you probably
have a pretty good volume of liquid with the iodine in it. If its more liquid than you want to deal
with simply dump in an excess of Clorox, let the iodine settle to the bottom, pour off most of the
water, add some Lye solution and you have your sodium iodide in a concentrated solution which
is the way you want to store it anyway. Ready for another extraction.
Of course, no one is going to buy that black powder from you. "Sure its gold, anyone can see
that! Take it somewhere else"! To make this stuff look like gold again simply smelt it. I assume
most of you know how to smelt.

Now you got a strong solution of bleach! Now you can put a few tablespoons in the wash instead
of several cupfuls.