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Best Way to Clean Gold Nuggets – Our Guide

Whether you intend to sell your gold nuggets or keep them in your own collection, Cleaning your nuggets will always make them more appealing if done correctly.

That’s because most gold nuggets that come out of the ground are usually covered with sediments from the surrounding earth. These deposits take away the gold’s lustre, diminishing their aesthetic appeal.

Sometimes though it is unnecessary to clean your gold nuggets. Particularly if they are nice specimens with quartz or other minerals attached that might be unique. We can always use specific gravity to determine the gold content without removing the host rock if it is quartz. It is always a good idea to consult with your gold buyer before you clean large or unique gold nuggets as they will have the best idea as to how you will get the highest price for your gold.

So, what’s the best way to get rid of this dirt? There are several ways you can do this, and your choice will primarily depend on the type of dirt, as well as how embedded into the gold it is.

In this guide, we’ll go over the best ways you can clean your gold nuggets, and we’ll go from the easiest method down to the most complicated one.

With soap and water

Many gold nuggets are easily cleaned with nothing more than soap, water, and some light scrubbing however do not use a wire brush or anything abrasive as you might scar or damage the nugget, gold is a very soft metal. You can use a small soft toothbrush or kitchen sponge to help you achieve a better clean. This should be your first go-to method all the time, and only if you are unsuccessful in removing the dirt should you try the following methods.

With a salt and vinegar solution

If you find that the above method is ineffective and some dirt is still present, you can try mixing some salt and vinegar together. The measurements don’t need to be precise.

The idea is to put your gold nuggets in a small bottle and add enough vinegar so that the liquid completely submerges the gold. You can let this sit for a couple of hours so that the vinegar can breakdown some of the dirt. Then, add plenty of salt—enough that there are visible salt crystals that do not immediately dissolve into the vinegar.

Cover the bottle and shake the contents but do not do it in a manner that could damage your nugget. The salt acts as an abrasive and can knock most of the dirt off. If you do this long enough, you may find that the solution becomes mirky or changes colour. This is a good sign that your effort is paying off.

If this doesn’t remove all the dirt, you can repeat this process multiple times. You can even leave the nuggets in the bottle together with the solution for periods of several weeks, but remember to give it a little shake every few days.

With harsher chemicals

For truly stubborn deposits such as quartz and caliche, you may use stronger chemicals to get your gold nuggets clean. Commercial rust removers are a good choice, as is hydrofluoric acid. However Hydrofluoric acid is very dangerous and should not be used unless you are a trained professional and obtain a poisons license. A great alternative to Hydroflouric acid is aluminium brightener, this solution is available in our store or most car parts stores. It contains a very small amount of Hydrofluoric and other chemicals that will remove dirt and even quartz if left long enough. Remember this is still dangerous and you must practice extreme caution when you go for these methods, Gloves, goggles, face masks and aprons are always a must when cleaning gold with any chemicals.

With an ultrasonic cleaner

This is arguably the easiest way to clean your gold nuggets and it can be very effective. Ultrasonic cleaners work by applying high-frequency sound waves to agitate a liquid at an extremely fast rate. This effectively shakes off any type of dirt given enough time, and all you have to do is to put your gold nuggets into the machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The great thing about this method is it is very gentle on your nuggets and shouldn’t cause any damage.


There you have it—the best ways for you to clean your gold nuggets and achieve a brilliant finish. Remember to only use the more complicated cleaning methods if the simpler ones are ineffective, and always be careful if you decide to work with harsh chemicals.

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