Is Refining Gold at Home a Good Idea?

There’s nothing like a good DIY project. Whether you’re recreating a gourmet meal or installing backsplash tile, it feels good to accomplish something new on your own (even if you did have a little help from YouTube). But there are some feats that really shouldn’t be tried at home, one of which is gold refining. 

For the untrained refiner, it may not yield the desired result and it can even potentially be dangerous.

Read on to find out why you should avoid refining gold at home — and bring it in to a trained professional instead.


Accuracy of Testing

One of the reasons someone might test their precious metals at home is to ensure a fair payout before going to a refinery. However, many of the tests (or “assays”) we perform to assess the value of your precious metals involve top-of-the-line equipment, which can’t be replicated with an at-home kit. There are also some assays that involve hazardous materials, such as acid testing.

Additionally, not all assays are practical for your lot, depending upon its size and your desired turnaround time. That’s why we look at the whole picture to choose the best method.

Some of the assays we perform include:


  • Hand testing gold (acid test) First, the items are carefully inspected. Then a piece of the metal is scratched against a basalt stone, which leaves a mark on the stone. Finally, certain strengths of nitric acid are applied to the mark, which causes a reaction. By measuring the reaction, we can accurately measure the purity of the precious metal and give you a fair payout right away.
  • Fire The most accurate method, fire assays involve taking a sample, melting it, and mixing it with lead oxide and a few control chemicals to determine its purity. You’ll typically receive your purity results a day or so later. 

  • X-ray Fluorescence (X-RF) Like most X-rays, this test can be completed in a matter of minutes. We also operate two X-RF machines so we’re able to determine your results quickly, even if we’re assisting multiple clients.
  • Ultrasound In this assay, a special machine sends an ultrasonic pulse through a sample and measures the frequency for changes. This allows us to determine if an item is precious metal-plated without damaging it.

After we’ve tested your items, we’ll provide you with a quote before proceeding with the precious metal recycling process.

High Melting Temperatures


Safety is another reason why we don’t advise refining gold at home — or any other precious metal for that matter. To melt platinum, for example, we use a 35-kilowatt induction furnace that can reach upward of 3,200°F. 

Our team members have to wear welding glasses just to safely look at the molten metal when it’s in the crucible (a container in which metals are melted). That level of heat would be difficult — and dangerous — to recreate at home.

The Pay Off of Going to an Expert

MGS pays up to 99 percent of the melt value of your precious metals, according to the daily London Fixing. You can also choose how you’d like to receive your payment: cash, check, wired funds, or even gold bullion. Payouts are often made the same day your lot is processed.

To get a free quote, use our online payout estimator or stop by in-person to watch the whole process take place.

Manhattan Gold & Silver Update

We’re currently open from 9:30am – 4:00pm Monday-Friday.  Customers are now allowed to enter the exchange with a mask and witness melts as usual.

If you have any questions you can still contact us at 212-398-1454 and sign up for our newsletter for further announcements.

Most importantly, please stay safe! 

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