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Is refining gold illegal in the United States?

There is someone in our building that all the tenants know is
refining gold at night. We are all worried about the exhaust as we
are also almost positive that the fumes are not being vented out of
our building completely.

Is refining gold illegal in the United States? We are in the state
of Texas.


That’s a good question because you are in the one state out of all
50 that have the least amount of safety regulation. Your best bet is
to notify the landlord and see if they can handle it directly.

On April 17th, 2013 a severe lack of any regulation was the cause
for a large fertilizer plant outside of Dallas. The fertilizer
storage had not been inspected since 1985 and when it blew up, it
killed 15 people, injured 200, destroyed many buildings just a block
away for a school. The fact that a business in Texas can avoid
reporting tons and tons of fertilizer to the Department of Homeland
Security is beyond belief. So I’m not sure if there are any laws that
can specifically address your situation in Texas.

I think most landlords would help you.

Good luck,

Is refining gold illegal in the United States? We are in the state
of Texas. 

So far as I know, refining gold is legal. No real reason why it
wouldn’t be.

Unlike jungle recovery of gold from ore, which might be done with
mercury (toxic as hell, pollutes rivers, etc) by those who don’t know
better or have better means, actual refining of gold is fairly simple
chemistry. It’s done by dissolving the impure metal in acid, usually
aqua regia (a mix of hydrochloric and nitric acids), and then
precipitating out the gold, leaving the impurities in solution. For
the person doing this, working close to these acids, the fumes can be
pretty nasty, and corrosive to other things in the room. But traces
of the fumes, enough to get a whiff of something not smelling good,
is more annoying than actually dangerous. Still, simply from a
courtesy standpoint, not to mention the persons lungs, the fumes
should be properly vented.

And while the end use of these chemicals, ie refining gold, is legal
enough, it may be that there might be local ordinances regarding the
acids. OSHA might have something to say about excessive fumes, and
the fire department might have something to say about storing these
rather strong and potentially dangerous acids.

I’d also mention that it’s possible to refine gold without acids or
nasty chemicals at all. The I. Shor company’s Simplicity refining
system does it electrolytically, using a fairly simple salt solution
instead of acids. That can generate some unpleasant smells if it’s
not being done quite right, but it’s not supposed to do that if it’s
running correctly.

I’d suggest the first step would be to talk to the individual who
you believe is doing this, and ask them about the smells, and what
they could do to solve this irrititating problem. If it’s acid fumes
you’re smelling, then although these are not dangerous to the degree
of something like cyanide fumes (I assume by the time you’re smelling
them, these are faint traces, not a strong smell), they’re still not
a good thing to have floating around, and can be irritating and
unpleasant. If you can smell these fumes, that person needs to solve
this situation. Your landlord might have something to say in the
matter too.

Peter Rowe

Is refining gold illegal in the United States? We are in the state
of Texas. 

I’m sure that refining gold is legal where you are, but it’s quite
likely a violation of local codes in a residential building in your
town. Talk to your landlord. If that doesn’t work, talk to the code
inspection department of your local town or county.

Al Balmer

So far as I know, refining gold is legal. No real reason why it
wouldn't be.

This is funny to read.

And some people making a hell of a noise for a pint of pickle poored
into the soil.

From Shor International Corporation:

The reaction of the aqua-regia with the metals in the scrap
produces nitrogen oxides. Some of these are red-brown in color,
others are colorless but take up oxygen as soon as they reach air
and then turn red-brown. these fumes are acrid, choking and
extremely toxic; they dissolve quite easily in water and in
caustic solutions; they are heavier than air and the aqua-regia
digestion should be done under a good fume hood. 

To me, that sounds nasty enough.

You realy have to know what you’re doing! If you don’t care about
your own life that’s ok but please don’t play around with someone
else life… if you’re just playing around like that particular

I wonder what the law in America has to say about that? It sounds so
strange to me, anyway.

From what I read about aqua regia you don’t want to be catching
smells of the stuff. That’s why people wear respirators who work
with it. Chemical companies have something they call the smell
threshold with some chemicals if you can smell it your dead.

This sounds like a job for your local fire marshall.

Jo Haemer