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Gold is one of the least reactive metals and is usually found as a free element or with silver as a gold-silver alloy. It is also found in minerals as gold compounds, mostly with tellurium.
One of the most common gold salts is auric chloride, also known as golden chloride or acid gold trichloride. It is an extremely hygroscopic and highly soluble compound in water, ethanol and aqueous hydrochloric acid, decomposes above 160°C and forms a variety of complexes with a wide range of ligands.
The electrochemical properties of solutions of auric chloride in hydrochloric acid have been investigated using cyclic voltametry techniques. The reactions of 30 and 60 mg/L AuCl3 with 0.1 and 0.5 M HCl were studied for possible redox reaction mechanisms in the presence of different ligands using a glassy carbon, saturated calomel and platinum wire mesh electrode as working, reference and counter, respectively.
This is a very toxic compound and should only be handled by those trained in the use of chemicals with appropriate safety equipment, including gloves, face protection and eye goggles. It is a yellow-coloured solid which has a hexagonal close-packed crystal structure and is formed from the reaction of gold(III) chloride with iodine, which reacts quickly to form the more stable lead iodide (PbI2). This solution can be dissolved in alcohol or water but it tends to precipitate out again as soon as it evaporates, although it can be kept suspended with magnetic stirring until used in a chemical work station or with a UV light.