How to Test Gold With Muriatic Acid

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A lot of jewelry may look like real gold, but is actually fake gold.
A lot of jewelry may look like real gold, but is actually fake gold. (Image: Gold image by DeVIce from Fotolia.com)

Gold is a type of metal represented by the chemical symbol "Au" and is considered to be one of the rarest metals on Earth. It is commonly used worldwide as a medium of exchange in monetary transactions. Gold is also widely used in manufacturing jewelry, and in other applications. Some metals can be manufactured to look similar to gold which is why it is important to test the gold to determine if it is real.

Things You'll Need

  • Muriatic acid
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye goggles

Put on a pair of rubber gloves and wear protective glasses or goggles. Hold the jewelry on top of a glass saucer. Scrape a small amount of gold from the jewelry using the sharp edge of a utility knife or razor blade.

Allow the scrapings to drop onto the glass saucer. Drop a very small amount of muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) onto the gold, using a medicine dropper. Take extra care not to spill or allow any acid to come into contact with your skin to avoid injury. Muriatic acid is a very strong corrosive chemical that can damage surfaces; avoid spilling the chemical onto other items.

Observe the reaction of the gold once the muriatic acid comes in contact with it. If the metal dissolves completely, then it isn't gold. If some of the metal dissolves, then the gold is not pure, or is mixed with other forms of metal to form an alloy. Muriatic acid will corrode other forms of metal, but not gold which is why whatever does not dissolve is gold. If there is no reaction, then the gold is pure or equivalent to 24 karats.

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