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How Platinum Is Extracted From Catalytic Converters

January 23rd, 2023

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Platinum & What it's Worth

When you hear the word platinum, you probably immediately think of platinum necklaces and framed records in the music industry. It is a precious metal that has steadily held a higher resale value than most over the last few decades. It is used mostly in high-end jewelry and catalytic converters in cars. At least 50% of platinum production is used for a car exhaust part that purifies the toxins in the vehicle's engine fumes for a cleaner and less harmful release into the atmosphere.

Why Extract Platinum from a Catalytic Converter?

The legal reason to extract platinum from a catalytic converter is to recycle precious metals. However, criminals are attracted to your car's catalytic converter because it is easy to access and a quick resale. Scrap metal buyers can pay street thieves for a stolen converter and quickly melt down the platinum for resale at a higher price. This creates a motive for criminals to target a parked car that may meet their guidelines for thievery.

How to Extract Platinum

It takes a ton of heat to melt platinum to the point it separates from other metals inside a catalytic converter. Essentially a large and protected furnace that can withstand up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit is needed.

The honeycomb filter of your catalytic converter is usually broken or chipped into chunks so that the melting process happens faster and smoother. Once the platinum is separated and re-cooled, it can weigh up to a few ounces and hold a resale of a few hundred U.S. dollars. As of 2023, the current price of platinum per ounce is above $1000.

For the DIY type looking to extract the platinum, there is also a chemical-based reactionary process using hydrochloric acid to separate platinum from other metals. Obviously, like using a furnace, this liquid method is dangerous, so be sure to have the proper know-how and safety equipment before trying to extract precious metals.

Catalytic converter thieves are crafty. They can target your car right on the spot or after scouting it for a day or two after reading your daily driving routine. Converter theft can happen during the day or late at night, and all it takes is a hack saw and someone who knows what exhaust pipes to cut. In just a few minutes, a thief can lift and take off with your vehicle's catalytic converter leaving your car failing state emissions standards and out of a few thousand dollars on replacement and repairs.

How Much can a Catalytic Converter Sell For?

Wondering how much platinum is within your catalytic converter? It depends on the size of your vehicle or how large the catalytic converter is. On average, 3 to 7 ounces of platinum can sit beneath your car's undercarriage. That's $150 to $300 in a crook's pocket. Not only is there platinum inside this exhaust part, but there are other expensive metals like rhodium and palladium inside too which adds dollars to the value of the catalytic converter.

Best Way to Protect Your Car from Catalytic Converter Thieves

Whether you drive a pickup truck like the Toyota Tundra or an SUV like the Honda Element, any type of vehicle is at risk for its catalytic converter being stolen.

The best option for protecting your undercarriage from a crazy person with a hacksaw is to add a catalytic converter shield. Cat Security provides an array of metal undercarriage guards but if you don't happen to see a catalytic plate for your vehicle, get on our list, and we will notify you when your car's shield guard is ready for order.