Cleaning Gold Nuggets With Hydrochloric Acid

Cleaning a gold nugget with hydrochloric acid is probably one of the most popular methods, however the process should only be used on gold nuggets in a certain state.

More specifically a gold nugget that is coated with ironstone and clay.

Gold nuggets, if you’re lucky enough to have found one, come from the ground covered in dirt, clay and soil.

Sometimes gold nuggets can also be found covered in bits of quartz or ironstone (black gold) leaving your nugget looking pretty dull.

So how do you clean a gold nugget? The one you’re probably still in love with.

“Before you continue cleaning your gold nugget with hydrochloric acid, its important for you to be aware that if you plan on selling it, cleaning can sometimes damage it and collectors may actually prefer it to be in its original dirty state.”

That being said if you would like to continue using the hydrochloric acid cleaning method to clean your gold nugget you’re going to need a few things.

These items can be found online or in most hardware stores.

Things you will need for cleaning a gold nugget with hydrochloric acid

  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Plastic or glass lidded jar
  • Chemical resistant gloves
  • Safety glasses (this may seem like overkill on the safety but hydrochloric acid is nasty stuff)
  • Toothbrush

Step by step cleaning process

Before I explain step by step how to clean gold nuggets with hydrochloric acid, I really must stress how important it is for you to remember to wear all of the protective equipment. Hydrochloric acid is very dangerous and could cause serious injuries and burns.

The safety equipment (gloves and glasses) will cost you a few dollars and potentially save you from injury.

The method is very basic, very easy to follow and pretty much fool proof! Remember though before we proceed that you could damage or devalue the gold nugget.

Lets get to it.

  1. Put on your chemical resistant gloves and safety glasses.
  2. Take a look in the mirror! Do you feel like a mad scientist?
  3. Take the plastic/glass lidded container and remove the lid.
  4. Open the bottle of hydrochloric acid and pour into the container, ensuring there is enough to submerge the gold nugget.
  5. Take the gold nugget and place it in to the container of hydrochloric acid. ( for extra safety use some kind of tweezers)
  6. Place the lid back on the container and put somewhere safe, especially somewhere that is out of reach of children and somewhere it won’t be knocked over.
  7. Wait 48 hours.
  8. Ensure before you proceed again that you are again wearing all of the aforementioned safety equipment.
  9. Open the lid and remove the gold nugget from the hydrochloric acid.
  10. Run under cold water and take your toothbrush and scrub the nugget, rinsing and repeating.
  11. Examine the nugget, if you are still not happy with results start the process again until all of the ironstone or clay has dissolved completely.


In my honest opinion there are better methods, cleaning gold nuggets with Hydrochloric acid does work but perhaps not as well as using other acids and techniques and you may not get that shine that you are expecting.

Results will depend highly on what your gold nugget is covered in. If its just clay and sand it will take a few hours for the acid to dissolve this, if its ironstone the process may take anywhere from 24 hours to a few days.

Remember also that shiny gold nuggets aren’t always more desirable from a selling perspective, many collectors would actually prefer to buy in the original state.


(Visited 222 times, 1 visits today)

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *