How Is Gold Made?

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The gold we find in our planet was created in space.

A long, long time ago, before Don Mclean, supermassive reactions were occurring in space. In the early universe, the amount of energy and collisions in a relation tiny space created terrific fusion reactions that formed the elements, including Au (gold), we know today. Somewhat more recently, exploding stars have contributed to the phenomena by way of going supernova. When we ask how is gold made, the simplest answer is that you squish more stuff together (specifically, base elements and neutrons).This is a process whereby the an already titanic star essentially releases one huge burst before slowly fading away. People have also credited primeval astroid collisions as possibly leaving Gold deposits in the Earth’s crust.

For most of our history, we tried, ceaselessly, to turn base metals into gold. Now we know that what was lacking was energy. All matter is made of the same stuff. In other words, we can’t make gold because it is far too expensive. With that in mind, it is certainly not cheap to get it out of the ground in large part because pure gold is not found in the ground very often at all.

How is gold made when we mine it?

On earth, we find gold ore in large and small deposits that can be extracted at a cost. Over the course of our history, we humans have tended to go after the easier deposits first. While gold is not commonly found as, for example, an oxide, it most commonly comes hand in hand with copper and silver. The idea is that gold is highly nonreactive. Despite this, because of how the Earth’s crust cooled, Gold is highly dispersed. Over the millennia, Gold has found its way – in minute quantities – into everything from the soil to the sea. Obviously, neither of these are very cost-effective methods of extracting gold. On the other hand, mining styles ranging from placer (find gold mixed the ground) to lode (looking for veins), are extremely effective. They are less common because most easy to get gold has been extracted.

How is Gold Made? - Crab Nebula Supernovas

The Crab Nebula – The Bright White Stars were Supernovas.

When we get gold out of the ground, as mentioned, is in the form of ore. In other words, it is usually a very small amount of gold mixed very large amount of base metal. At this point, the question of how his gold name becomes how is gold removed from the ore? When you have a good vein, you can crush the gold physically into a powder, and Zen dissolve that in a cyanide solution that you manipulate chemically to extract the pure gold. You then smelt the gold to extract much of the impurity that will flow to the top of molten metal. This will produce semi pure bars known as Dore. There are then taken to a refinery that will convert them into 99.9 percent pure gold and sell them on the open market.

Can I make gold at home?

Unfortunately for us, you cannot create gold at home. You cannot, in fact create it just about anywhere on the planet. And if you did it cost you a fortune greater than most countries GDP. What you can do, however, is take existing gold and use that to make other cool products. Consider is that most cash for gold buyers are sending that back to our refinery that will recycle it into what will become next year’s jewelry. 

How is Gold Made? - Snapshot of Gold Refinery

A Snapshot into a Seasoned Gold Refinery

Now, refining metal at home is not a joke. We’re very likely to hurt yourself in the first few times and will probably cost yourself some money. If you want gold in order to make, for example jewelry, you can either trade Gold for new Gold that is refined, or buy new gold. Check out our list of the best gold and jewellery buyers for some places you can sell gold to buy new gold.

How is Gold Made by refining ore?

There are two ways to make gold: the Wohlwill and the Miller processes. The Wolhwill process dates back to 1874 and is applied to a roughly 95%+ bar of Dore. Anything much lower and the reaction won’t work well. This bar acts as an anode and a sheet of 24k gold or another non-reactive sheet of metal acts as a cathode. When an electrical current is applied through the chloroauric acid these are submerged in, the anode will dissolve and forms around the cathode.

The chemical equations (see p.244 of Pletcher’s Industrial Electrochemistry) is described in the below image:

AuCl4- + 3e- --> Au + 4Cl-, and AuCl2- + e- --> Au + 2Cl-

 

Interested in learning more about how gold is made? You might like to start with how much gold there is in the world.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. That’s interesting. Never thought about how gold was made, but come to think of it, as a heavier element…well, there’s really not that much of it – proportionately speaking. Cool write-up.

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