She Was Refined

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
(Someday, when the tools are available, I’ll post this to the Internet Archive….)

I went looking for this poem and found it here and here.

Refining is a practice
done precisely
     and methodically
to ensure the full recovery of gold,
as well as
an end
free of impurities
(which can lead to quality problems…. See Cracking Up.)

Fire assay is
most reliable
accurately determining the content of gold.
Melting a gold-bearing sample in a clay crucible
a mixture of fluxes (such as silica and borax),
lead oxide (called litharge), and
a reducing agent (frequently flour).
The drops of lead dissolve
the gold,
     the silver,
          the platinum.
Then they coalesce,
gradually descend through the sample
form a metallic layer at the bottom of the crucible.

After cooling,

the lead “button”
is separated

           from the slag layer

heated under oxidizing conditions
eliminating the lead.

The shiny metallic bead is left
the precious metals.

The bead is boiled in nitric acid to dissolve the silver
(a process called parting),
and the gold residue is weighed.
If platinum metals are present,
they will alter the appearance of the bead,
and their concentration can sometimes be determined
by use of an arc spectrograph.

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