How to Tell If Gold is Real with Vinegar

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Testing Gold with Vinegar

There are plenty of metals and minerals that look like gold including iron pyrite (Fool’s Gold), brass, weathered mica, and chalcopyrite. You don’t want to trot into town to show off a ‘gold nugget’ only to have someone tell you it is iron pyrite or a piece of weathered mica!

Fortunately, there are several easy techniques to check if gold is real. In this post, I’ll be explaining how to tell if gold is real with white vinegar. It is one of the best tests for checking if an object is gold because most people already have white vinegar in their homes.

Before You Begin

Although white vinegar is a common household item that is used for everything from making food to cleaning, some precautions should be taken when handling it. It’s important to understand that white vinegar has a pH of around 2.4, which makes it mildly acidic. 

For this reason, care should be taken when handling vinegar. If it lands on your skin, wash it off with water immediately. Eye protection, a long sleeve shirt, and gloves are a good idea, particularly if you have an unsteady hand and sensitive skin.

You should also be aware that vinegar can change the color of metals that are not pure gold. This fact is important to know if you intend to test the gold in your 14k or 18k ring. That’s because many pieces of jewelry listed as 14k/18k are not real gold. Placing them into vinegar could lead to permanent discoloration. Placing real gold into vinegar will not do it any harm and will actually clean the metal, making it look brighter.

What is White Vinegar?

White vinegar is an acidic solution that is made from a combination of acetic acid (5-10%) and water (90-95%). It is a versatile solution with antibacterial and antifungal properties, that can be used for many different tasks. Although it is a mildly corrosive liquid, it will not harm gold in any way, which makes it the perfect solution for testing if a sample is real gold. You can purchase white vinegar from your local supermarket or hardware store.

Using White Vinegar to Test If Gold Is Real

Testing if gold is real using white vinegar is a simple 4 step process:

Step 1:


Add some white vinegar to a glass cup. Pour enough in to fully submerge the sample you are testing.

Step 2: 


Place the sample in the cup of white vinegar.

Step 3:

Next, we’ll evaluate our sample. If it is made from real gold, it will begin to shine even brighter as the vinegar cleans it of any grime, dust and dirt. Gold is unaffected by vinegar because it is a stable metal and will not react with oxygen. That means it will not change color, develop crystals, or disintegrate.

If the sample is iron pyrite (Fool’s Gold) or chalcopyrite, it may remain the color of gold, but will begin to form crystals while it is submerged. It may also begin to give off a rotten smell, depending on the strength of the solution you are using. Some people opt to use muriatic acid instead of white vinegar because it makes these signs even more obvious.

If the sample is weathered mica, it should bleach the iron staining that makes it look like gold. This isn’t always effective, because white vinegar is so mild. One good way to tell the difference between gold and mica is that mica will be much light in color.

If the sample is brass, it will not change color and won’t form crystals. However, placing it in vinegar can still help because you will be able to see its true color more easily – making it easier to tell it’s brass.

Other materials may simply disintegrate or fall away from your gold while being submerged in the vinegar. This makes it a great way to clean your sample of impurities. You may find that agitating the glass speeds up the process and helps to remove the impurities surrounding your sample.

Step 4:

Take your sample out of the vinegar and wash it off with water. If it was real gold, you will find that it looks even better than before!

I hope you found How to Tell If Gold is Real with Vinegar useful. For more articles on gold prospecting and analyzing gold samples, bookmark the website.