Gold is one of the most valuable metals people have used for a long time. Some have used it to make jewelry and others as a currency. You most likely own a few pieces of gold jewelry. But you sometimes question whether your gold would catch fire in case your house caught fire, is gold flammable?
That’s what we are going to answer with this well-researched article. We not only respond to the question of whether gold burns but also provide you with interesting information about gold. Do you want to know if gold rusts, is toxic, can be destroyed, what it reacts with and whether you can purify gold by melting it? Continue reading.
Table of Contents
Does Gold Burn?
Pure gold will melt but not burn when placed in a fire setting. But it will also depend on how high the fire temperature is. However, impure gold such as pyrite, fool’s gold, and steel alloys will burn. For an item to burn, it must react with oxygen to produce heat. Gold does not react with oxygen and will therefore not burn.
Gold doesn’t light up easily. Hence, it is not flammable. A flammable material is anything that ignites when exposed to a naked flame or a spark without needing prior heating. At 199.4 degrees Fahrenheit, the material should be able to catch fire. At this low temperature, gold does not burn and stays unreactive
Watch what happens when you burn gold or pyrite:
When you expose gold to heat, you’ll notice it doesn’t change color and turn black like most fake gold.
At What Temperature Does Gold Melt?
Gold has a melting point of 1064 degrees Celsius (1,943 degrees Fahrenheit). Your flames must get to this temperature to melt gold. The temperature is only required when melting pure gold, or 24Carat gold which is 99% gold. Pure gold is found in gold coins or bars. Remember that while gold will melt, it won’t burn or lose mass. Gold doesn’t vaporize, nor will it react with other materials.
You can develop new jewelry by melting old gold pieces. However, gold used to make jewelry is not pure gold but is mixed with other materials to make it strong. As a result, melting jewelry may require lower temperatures. Gold is frequently used to manufacture printed circuit board wires because it is a good conductor of heat and electricity.
Most people melt gold with propane gas, which has a maximum temperature of 1,979 degrees Celsius. You should place gold in a crucible (made from graphite) and place it on a fireproof surface. To bring gold to the boiling point, you must reach a temperature of 2,856 degrees Celsius. But you’ll need strong electron beams to achieve that temperature.
Will Gold Survive a House Fire?
In all likelihood, gold will survive a house fire. The primary explanation is that gold is inert and won’t react with oxygen to produce heat that could burn it. In addition, the typical temperature of a house fire ranges from 600 to 924 C, which is still too low for gold to melt and burn. In most cases, gold is indestructible and won’t burn up in a fire.
Gold can survive a fire, but how well it does depends on where and how you store it. You should consider keeping your gold safe, such as in a personal vault. Additionally, a floor safe in the basement is also a good option since a basement is usually unaffected by heat during a house fire.
Does Anything React With Gold?
Gold does not react when exposed to most chemical reactions. In practice, gold does not corrode because it does not react with oxygen. Apart from oxygen, gold is also unaffected by water, alkalis, air, and nearly all acids. But solutions such as aqua-regia, cyanide, fluorine, chlorine, and mercury will all attack and dissolve gold. Gold dissolves in alkaline solutions of cyanide.
Halogens react with gold. Because of this, it will slowly react with chlorine to produce gold chloride (AuCl3). However, gold chloride will break down when heated, releasing the two pure elements of gold and chlorine. In cyanide solutions, gold will dissolve when oxygen and hydrogen peroxide are present.
Gold is also unaffected by most bases. It does not react with solid or aqueous bases, potassium hydroxide, or molten sodium.
What Happens To Gold If Heated?
The gold’s surface is reflective, so when heat is applied, it initially reflects it. Gold is a good conductor of heat and will start to warm fast. It is usually expected that when you heat something, it becomes soft as it prepares to melt; gold does the opposite. When gold is heated, it becomes hard.
Due to its electrochemical outer layer, gold tends to become harder when heated. It is simpler to form bonds with the other atoms because the outer layer of the gold atom is pushed farther away from its nucleus.
Gold gets brighter and cleaner than other metals that typically turn black when heated. The beauty of gold is that it keeps its color and appearance unchanged as it cools down. Gold expands when heated and can contract and shrink when exposed to low temperatures after heating.
Does Gold Rust?
Due to its inability to react with oxygen and water at room temperature, gold will not rust or tarnish. Iron in the air has to react with oxygen and water for rust to form. Rust is made of iron oxide, a flaky, reddish-brown substance resulting from the reaction of iron and oxygen. Noble metals are those that do not react with oxygen. Because it doesn’t rust, pure gold is regarded as the noblest.
However, you might notice red spots on gold bars and coins, mainly if the gold is 24 carats (99.99%) gold. The 0.01%, which is often silver or copper, is what causes these spots.
Can Gold Be Destroyed?
You cannot destroy gold through ordinary effort or by using material found naturally. Gold is resistant to tarnishing, corrosion, and fire—one of the reasons why gold is melted, remelted, and used over and over again. However, using several artificial procedures, you can break down and dissolve the gold molecule. You can use aqua regia to dissolve gold.
Gold can dissolve without actually being destroyed. Even though the gold is more dispersed, it is still gold. While most acids won’t damage gold, aqua regia ( a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acid) will. Gold can be dissolved in a 3:1 solution of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid. Aqua regia is the closest scientists have found to uncovering chemical processes that can dissolve gold, aside from nuclear processes.
The only factor that causes gold to be destroyed is its value, not its physical characteristics. The gold dealers will therefore have to reduce their prices should individuals suddenly decide their gold jewelry is not valuable. Until then, the value and physical properties of gold remain indestructible.
Does Melting Gold Purify It?
Yes, melting gold will purify it. You can’t eliminate your gold’s mass by melting it. It means that if you melt five grams of gold, it will remain five grams after it cools and solidifies. In contrast to today’s more complex procedures, melting was the simplest method of purifying gold during the middle ages. However, avoid attempting to refine gold at home because the required temperature can easily cause a fire.
Instead of melting it, there are various ways to purify gold, and they are as follows:
1. Acid Treatment
In this method, you use aqua regia to dissolve the gold alloy to remain with the purified gold. Gold chloride is now formed from the dissolved scrap gold. The dissolved gold can be separated from the other dissolved metals using Butyl-Diglyme. The other metals are rejected, but the dissolved gold chloride is retained.
Skimming out the Butyl diglyme, which will float on top of the aqua regia, you will be left with 99.9% pure gold. If you frequently buy gold and want to test it before paying for it, you can get a Gold acid test kit from Amazon.
2. Using Chlorine
Dr F. B. Miller of the Sidney Mint developed a chlorine method to purify gold. Silver and other ore impurities form chlorides with chlorine, but the gold is unaffected. The ore can be put in clay pots, heated in a furnace, and sprayed with chlorine.
You can take the pots out of the furnace and skim the molten chlorides off after a few hours. You should expect gold with a purity ranging from 99.6 to 99.7%.
Dr. Emil Wohlwill of the Norddeutsche Affinerie in Hamburg, Germany, created this process in 1874. A mixture of hydrochloric acid and gold chloride makes up the electrolyte solution. The cathode is made of pure gold strips, and the ore is made into a 100-ounce anode.
Through the electrolyte, an electric current passes from the anode to the cathode. The gold at the anode dissolves as a result of the reaction, collecting at the cathode. The cathode can then be melted and cast into 99.5 purity bars at the refinery.
How Toxic is Gold?
Due to its low level of reactivity, gold rarely becomes toxic. Since pure gold is chemically inert, it won’t be absorbed by the body and will pass through your digestive system. Edible gold will pass through your body, and your body will dispose of it as waste. It can’t be absorbed into the bloodstream. But remember that it will also depend on the type, quantity, and frequency of edible gold you consume.
Dental fillings made of gold are another example that shows that gold is not toxic. People who have gold fillings are more prone to swallow some gold flakes. It is fair to assume that gold is not toxic because dentists have used gold fillings for ages, and no issues have ever been brought up.
Gold neither burns nor is it flammable. It won’t easily burn in a house fire because it has a melting point of 1064 degrees Celsius. Gold has the benefit of not reacting with most substances. Hence it is not easily destroyed.
Although melting gold is not difficult, there are alternative ways to purify gold.