Testing A Possible Origin To Alchemy: The Golden Rain Experiment

I've had this idea for a few years that the Golden Rain experiment (a double displacement reaction between potassium iodide and lead nitrate) might be one of the early inspirations for alchemy and the idea that lead might be transformed into gold. In this video I attempt to make all of the compounds required for this reaction from ingredients that would have been accessible in ancient history.

One of the key ingredients, lead nitrate, would not have been available at the time according to my research (please leave a comment below if you have information showing otherwise), so instead I attempt to use lead acetate which I was able to make via acetic acid in vinegar. I believe the most likely ancient source of an iodine component is the ash from burnt seaweed. While I myself was only able to extract a small amount of iodine from ground kelp (you will see in this video that I supplement my yield with commercially made potassium iodide) you can see a more successful extraction on the channel Cody's Lab to prove a larger quantity is possible: https://youtu.be/jmWB1Sl2uzE

This video was unscripted and filmed as I made my very first attempt at testing this idea. I take a while to reach the final result but I hope you enjoy watching the process! I really want to thank my Patreon supporters for helping me to keep this channel going, especially my top patrons: Syniurge, Matthew Leitzke, & TheBackyardScientist

You can check out my Patreon page if you'd like to support my channel yourself through this link: https://www.patreon.com/NightHawkProjects

Thanks for watching!
  • Evanski

    Thank you for being a non click bait king of random

  • Chewy V

    Quit holding everything like you're about to drink it, you're just getting my hopes up for nothing

  • razzmatazz1974

    I have just read some books about the history of alchemy and the best explanation i found was that the base ore used by several alchemists (stibnite) has small amounts of dissolved gold. The alchemical process purifies and separates the gold creating a dark deposit with an upper crust of real pure gold. This seems to be the origin of the lead to gold legend. Actually no gold is created just a separation of already existing gold in the sample

  • Critical Eats Japan

    You're a wizard, Harry...

  • MiauxCatterie

    as someone who has always had a hard time with chemistry, i found this video extremely engaging as well as easy to follow. i think that you would be excellent at teaching chemistry the way alton brown teaches food science- by getting into the details. great video, great music choice, this was exciting to watch.

  • john sears

    That ‘lead’ into the start of alchemy

  • Kydrou Kair Renner Oudre

    You should sell snow globes with the stuff

  • Linuxpunk81

    1. At the exoteric level this phrase is about literally turning a rusty old lead pipe into a bar of shining gold bullion. This is extremely enticing because it represents the ultimate get rich quick scheme. The profane man is easily motivated by this prospect, but when he finds out that he cannot make gold out of lead he becomes angry. Without understanding the deep meaning of symbols, he simply gives up. The exoteric, literal, materialist meaning is given out to the public to keep them estimating everything in life at face value. Because there is no literal method of turning the base metals into gold, the art of alchemy becomes reduced to a curious relic from the ancient world. It is seen as the foolish work of magicians who lived in ignorance of actual scientific laws. Because most people stick with exoteric understandings the occult remains hidden.2. The occult meaning of turning the base metals into gold has to do with self-realization, and improvement. It is all about becoming a better, more enlightened person. Base metals, lead, or the Prima Materia of alchemy symbolize a man in his primal state, living in ignorance. By actually recognizing his own faults, and by making the choice to improve upon them, he is slowly raised up to new life. The gold is the light of the sun imbued into the consciousness of the alchemist. A flood of hidden knowledge is revealed, and the world becomes a far different place. Constant change is part of the occult process of alchemy. Throughout life, one dies and is reborn over and over again. So the occult meaning of alchemy is simply self reflection, actualization, and enlightenment. The process itself is catalyzed by symbols. It is through an understanding of ancient symbolism that the alchemist sees the world in a new light. 3. The esoteric interpretation of alchemy is actually a subtle intertwining of both literal and allegorical aspects of symbols. It uses symbolism to describe heavenly ideas/ ideals. These ideas are considered divine inspiration. They represent the blueprint by which the natural world should be remade. By intensely studying nature (with science), and understanding its mysterious processes, the natural progress of evolution can be sped up. Nature takes a very long time to change. With the art of alchemy the process is expedited. An artificial world is created in this way. Life itself is the product of nature, and the true Natural Man seeks to change it according to his own interpretation of ancient symbols. To turn the base metals into gold could be interpreted as altering the base metals, which symbolically represent base (profane) men, by turning them into gold. Because the profane man is forever ignorant, it is the assumed duty of the alchemist to help him along. By turning otherwise useless metals (human beings) into gold (wealth) the alchemical process is put into high gear. Eventually, this Method gives birth to a whole new world. -by Aaron Franz 2011

  • Peak0ck

    8:30 Aqua regia was first prepared by Persian alchemist Jabir Ibn Al-Hayyan in the 8th century AD by dissolving ammonium chloride into nitric acid. Source : Principe, Lawrence M. (2012). The secrets of alchemy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226682951.

  • Shadow Planner

    No offence but I think you'd do a really good Kermit the frog impression. Other than that though nice video!

  • #

    the main goals of and alchemist are1. philosophers stone2. make a living homunculus 3. turn base metals into gold4. universal solvent

  • Blake Merrithew

    looks like witch craft to me.... better see if you weigh as much as a duck to be sure.

  • The Death claw Hunter 231

    You look like starlord

  • ๖ۣۜ♥๖̶tacokitten๖̶

    Most people know this today, but gold can be created with no additional matter by modern scientists from other less valuable elements using a Nuclear Fission Reactor, an extremely large and very complex device invented in the 1940s that is usually used for sustainable Power or Energy, electricity, in power plants, that can be very dangerous to the point of disaster-scale problems if not maintained by a team of skilled professionals and safety precautions. In 1980, an American scientist named Glenn Seaborg, best known for the discovery of a bunch of those unstable elements at the bottom of the periodic table that have only existed a few atoms at a time and nobody usually cares about, successfully transformed lead matter (atomic number 82) into gold atoms (atomic number 79) using a nuclear fission reactor. However, the amount of energy that is required from the nuclear reactor and the time it takes to perform this experiment vastly exceeds many times over the worth in modern prices of the very small amount of gold that is proportionally created, in total. So, the total amount of new stable gold atoms added to the world from performing this has to date not influenced the total amount of gold in the world or on the market to any degree at all. Alchemists unfortunately never came close at all to what they tried so hard to do even once, but though it can be done today, the dream of lots of gold for everyone, even the potential to replace copper as a useful wire conductor, will not occur unless ways are found to make the nuclear fission process for gold many times over far cheaper and more efficient. Most scientists pursue other goals that have far more meaningful and perceived possible results.

  • Rav3 G0d

    Every time you held a beaker up inside it looked like you were going to drink it

  • JokerBrand64

    He would be a badass teacher

  • Jorge Padilla

    he looks like he would be a bartender in the 1900's

  • Elox

    I have interest in anthropology and I've been studying about witchcraft, alchemy, multiple religions and comparing them to modern day science to see certain similarities.What you did was astonishing and for me it means the first few steps on how humans got to know about chemical reactions, like you said; someone of that era who didn't have the scientific method and little was known about how substances reacted to each other and were not capable of studying their compositions would be easily fooled by this, however it would still cause commotion among the people of that time, it would be like if someone managed to create oil from water using alchemy/chemestry, that would spout a lot of controversy in todays time and could affect the economy greatly. So it would be better to keep it as a secret.Also, one misconception that people have is that alchemy is not only about trying to turn lead into gold or things of the like, it's also about purifying certain substances into their purest form which could have been the grandad of the purification methods we have today, such as filtration and evaporation, just to name a few.It truly makes you think about a lot of things for the future. Could we be able to alter matter in such a way that we could turn a gas into a metal? Just to say something insane, we never know what we could be able to do in the future.Great video! I'll make sure to link it to some people that have the same interest.

  • BoredomIsAnUnderstatement

    Wow...! That ended up looking so pretty, like something you'd see in a snow globe. I especially liked the final bottle you put it in -- I don't know what it's actually called anymore (it's been a few years since high school), but it looks like something you'd pour potions into. Watching the precipitate glitter in the light was so lovely...!

  • Gabe Sewell

    This was a good video until I saw the results, then I thought it was a fantastic video. Very very impressive with amazing results!

  • holdmybeer

    yes. make a new show called. "ancient alchemy busters."

  • Pronyx

    The first thing that came to my head when I look at the videos title was FMA lol

  • valentin yagami

    Hello ! Well personnally i don't understand a lot of things in Alchemy but i find this video very intersting for real, good job ! I d'like to see more videos like that in the futur, i wish you the best for the futur, amazing video :D

  • The Ded Authority

    What is the beginning music called?

  • Robert S.

    Really interesting video. I would like to try this at some point. Great job at explaining each process and the reasoning behind using substitute ingredients. Thanks for the post. :)

  • maulanamalique

    the title for the intro song?

  • tom williams

    should be called golden shower experiment

  • cpuman

    every time he holds up that beaker, i feel like he is going to drink it.

  • Pablo Carnovale

    12:00 I keep thinking "he's drinking it! oh no! he's drinking it!" lol

  • Red Coat

    Dispite some experimental obstacles, your hard work paid off in the end, a spectacular golden rain! Congratulations! Maybe mixing lead with Uranium could have neutron bombarded it up tp gold but I dont think the alchemists were into nuclear physics. So how about an early form of cold fusion using electrochemistry (some copper/zinc vessels found in middle eastern tombs indicate they may have had primitive batteries). Agreed its a very long, longshot!

  • gilbet

    Love the golden snow globe and music. I bet people would really enjoy a whole video of just relaxing music and a beautiful slow-motion display at which to stare, and dream.

  • Szakállat TV TMIAE

    Please note that there are 2 lead acetates: II and IV, (CH3COO)2Pb and CH3COO)4PbThe divalent tastes sweet but the tetravalent hydrolyzes to acetic acid so it tastes terrible

  • cybermage99

    My Chemistry teacher did this reaction in class just a few days ago

  • Fenrir

    I like how 2lb of seaweed weighs in at 9 KG in other parts of the world.

  • Antony Holme

    Alchemy; the science of understanding the structure of matter, breaking it down, then reconstructing it as something else. It can even make gold from lead. But alchemy is a science, so it must follow the natural laws: To create, something of equal value must be lost. This is the principle of Equivalent Exchange.

  • Evan Blenkinsopp

    "After literally a countless hour searching, I finally have it! Gold, purest gold!""Percy... It's green."

  • BrEaKiNg_Brad

    You kept holding that beaker like you were about to down it. I was like......do it. drink it!

  • nightmare in action

    do i think you did a good job with this video no you dint you made an spectacular video

  • Omer Magen

    I was 100% sure it was a NileRed video

  • Ryan Hudson

    I remember seeing an experiment that made water burn, I always thought that could have lead to the idea of greek fire

  • Daniel Geer

    I'm pretty sure the Lead to Gold idea was more about the commonality of Lead ( being used for pretty much everything ) and turning it into gold ( a rather rare metal ) it would be the equivalent of growing money on trees.

  • meowfy

    I suddenly regret never taking a chemistry class

  • Joseph Day

    I don't think I blinked for the last twenty minutes! You have blown my mind!

  • Nikki Numbers

    Awesome! You rock! I’m a forever fan!!! Thank you for this video!

  • nandkishor s

    thanks for sharing beautiful knowledge

  • AynenMakino

    Nice video! I love the angle of trying to discover where the idea of creating gold from lead came from! More of this please!Question: When did people first start to understand what iodine is or how to isolate it? Was the seaweed in your theory just a lucky guess for the medieval chemist to have tried it?What other sources of potasium iodine might they have had access to?

  • Porkchop Sandwiches

    You know the first person who discovered this reaction probably shit their pants...

  • Hec _

    you sound like swaggersouls

  • K17_5UN3

    As soon as he said "plausible" I got Mythbusters flashbacks

  • Jay the Explorer

    That was fantastic. Thank you for this!

  • Worship Songs

    Great job- really well done!

  • The_dude

    u look abit like will wheaton

  • R.J. Mx

    I was getting worried that twenty minutes of my time was wasted but when you put the first drops of iodine into the lead acetate solution that was damn cool and with such simple ingredients using such simple processes. The crystal formation was a beautiful sight to behold. I'm thinking badass alchemy snow globe and also a super modified lava lamp to show off beauty of our elemental world. Thank you for making me a bit smarter today, I promise to use this new knowledge wisely and you have earned a new subscriber. Namaste

  • soundfxmaster

    Alright so I've actually done alot of research into this sort of thing and I'm almost certain I know where it actually comes from. The idea that alchemy looked to make lead into gold is a bit misleading, the actual concept is to transform "base metals" into gold, such as copper nickel tin zinc etc also including lead, many Beleived lead was the metal to use since it's phisical properties are very similar to gold however if you look at the list I layed out two things might strike you as standing out with a bit of basic metallurgical knowledge: copper and zinc my theory is that they were actually attempting to make a type of soft brass (alloying lead nickle and zinc with a base of copper gives a result of a very soft brass so long as it is done right) which at the time would be nearly indistinguishable from gold, I've actually made what I call "alchemists gold" before to make gold coins for a table top game I was playing and for a moment we of the people around me (including a jewler) thought I had either brought real gold or painted lead it is a very convincing proxy although upon closer examination it is easy to tell the difference as the lead doesn't always alloy perfectly and leaves silver inclusions as well as a just faintly different colour that anyone around gold often enough can spot in just a few seconds of close inspection anyways that's my theory and how I've put it to practice hope you guys enjoyed my rant

  • Christian Breitenstein

    Very well done, and that little cheating was not relevant as you had already shown the proof of concept - all you cheated yourself around is lots of seaweed-cooking.That gold-rain shot was beautiful! And I agree, if an ancient person had seen this, the logical conclusion would have been "Gold!"

  • Scoop Science

    Wow!! This was really awesome. I was surprised how easy it was to make this reaction. I'm thinking about giving this a go myself!!

  • noah miller

    when you live near the ocean you learn to love the smell of seaweed

  • Euphoric Intentions

    Imagine if you actually possessed this knowledge and the ability to carry out the reaction back in the day, you'd be able to fool gold, into getting real gold!Harvesting the gold (By Trading Your Efforts For True Gold) found in massive amounts suspended in the ocean (SeaWeed), with a little lead, like it was magic boi!!!

  • Stormbringer1992

    Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't walnut leaves a better source of iodine?

  • Zap Actionsdower

    this is the kind of stuff that would have kept me more engaged in chemistry during my school years. just listening to someone drone on about the periodic table and writing down definitions (though important) isnt the best way to get students excited about what theyre learning. great video!

  • Randy Wiggins

    Awesome experiment! I like how you stayed true to form. The precipitate was absolutely beautiful and the bokeh light made it more so. Thank you!

  • T

    Beautiful labwork. Thank you. May I add a suggestion re: lead to gold? "De Re Metallica" describes a refining process in which gold-bearing ores are mixed with a fluxing agent and chunks of lead. They are melted in a sealed, conical crucible for several days. When cooled, the crucible is broken away and the gold will have migrated to the bottom, then the lead, then the slag on top. When I read this, I immediately imagined a farm kid looking through a knot-hole at the local wizard (metallurgist) apparently turning lead into gold. :-)

  • Sponge Robert

    It was resistant to burning because you ground the seaweed into a powder so there wasn't enough space for air to be present. Sort of like how you can't burn cornstarch, until you blow it out of your mouth with a flame

  • V J

    WOW! THAT WAS AMAZING & beautiful! I just found your channel and I am so thrilled.

  • ratzikratzi

    12:03Hello boys and girls. Today I'm going to drink some poisonous liquid.Here we go.

  • Scott Miller

    Great concept for a video. I love the chemical investigation into history. Very cool.

  • the bronylike superchannel

    In my research, they did have nitric acidIt was however called aqua fortis

  • Edd Jordan

    so good! what a great experiment. but im not coming for coffee round your house dude.

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What is Alchemy Introduction to the great art
Turning Lead into Gold: Golden Rain Experiment (Lead Iodide Synthesis)
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Alchemy -- Making gold from glass
25 EASY Science Experiments You Can Do at Home!
11 Secrets of The Alchemist | How To Become One
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A Super-Material That Can Be Made In The Kitchen (Starlite?)