Old electronics are often thrown out or recycled once they're outstripped by the newer models, but did you know trashing an old computer could mean throwing away chunks of gold? Certain microchip elements, like processor pins, are made from pure gold. Reclaiming the metal from these can be quick, and might just make you a pretty penny on your old system.
Identifying Gold In Computer Parts
Computer chips and other electronic elements contain a variety of metals, which can make identifying gold parts difficult. Even if you're fairly sure a part contains gold elements, you can't be sure if it's solid gold or an alloy that looks similar. Fortunately, you can use certain acids to quickly identify which chips contain gold and which don't.
Hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid are both powerful but put together their reaction has a unique property: it will melt virtually every material found in computer chips except gold. To test a component for gold content, cut off a small sample, then add it to a mixture of both acids. If metal remains in the mix when the reaction is done, you'll know that the component in question has gold elements. Be sure to only add the acids together right before testing a sample, however, as their reaction to each other is instant.
Once you've identified your components with gold, use pliers and a razor to cut away any excess material. Then, in a well-ventilated area, submerge your findings in a mixed acid bath. When the reaction is done eating away everything else, you'll be left with tiny chunks of gold.
Smelting To Refine The Gold
Once you've strained away the acids and disposed of them safely, you'll have to decide how you sell your found gold. While gold buying companies will be more than happy to purchase dust and nuggets of the metal, you won't be able to get the full market value. However, renting or hiring a smelter to completely solidify and refine the gold can also be costly.
To determine which option is best, consider how much metal you have. Smelters (such as Mid-States Recycling & Refining) usually charge a flat rate for their services, so a sizable pile of precious metal may sell for far more than you'd need to pay. On the other hand, gold buyers tend to offer a slightly reduced price per ounce, regardless of total quantity. This means small amounts of gold might not be worth the effort of smelting together, but refining on your own could save you with a larger batch.
Whether you decide to refine your gold or let the buyer do the work, you'll still be better off than if you'd just thrown away your old computer. Next time you see someone about to recycle or throw away their electronics, consider asking them to let you take care of it. You could be in for quite the windfall.