This is How to Check if Gold is Real With a Lighter

a person hold a ring with tool

Gold is one of the most stable, valuable, and tradeable assets in the world, and has been so for much of human history. Gold was long the singular source of value underpinning global currencies. It remains a “safe haven” asset that investors pile into when times are tough.

That gold you have on your nightstand could become a financial lifeline or a nest egg for a rainy day. But how do you know your gold is the real deal? One way is simply knowing how to check if gold is real with a lighter. But why would you need to do this in the first place?

As one might expect, this value means there is no shortage of scammers trying to rake in immense profits by pushing fake gold onto unwitting investors. We’re seeing more and more scams involving fake gold bars and jewelry these days, as fraudsters become ever more confident and sophisticated in their methods.

If you want to avoid getting ripped off, testing gold with a standard household lighter is a free and easy way to find out if the gold in your hand is the real deal. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is “Real” Gold?

First off, it’s worth breaking down what “real” gold actually is. When buying gold, you should note that it’s not enough for an item to simply contain a small amount of gold. According to most of the industry, any item with less than 41.7% gold content – about 10 karats – is considered to be fake gold.

To understand how this translates to value, you can check out this handy Gold Price per Gram calculator, which tells you exactly what the market will offer for your gold, depending on the purity. Remember, once the gold content drops below the 10-karat mark, its value begins to rapidly decline.

Common Fake Gold Tricks

There are many types of gold out there, some of which are more valuable than others. It’s worth pointing out that rose gold and white gold can be just as valuable and authentic as “pure” gold.

It’s all about the gold content mentioned above. For example, rose gold is a mixture of gold and copper. If the gold content is 18 karats, then the rose gold is just as valuable as the standard gold with the same karat number.

While gold blends such as these are not scams, there are a number of common tricks sellers will use to convince you that a piece of gold is worth more than it actually is. These are:

Gold Washing

Probably the most common trick of all. This involves covering sterling silver in a thin coating of gold via a process known as “washing.” This isn’t always a scam and is often simply done as a means of making antiques look a little fresher. However, it’s not uncommon to find unscrupulous jewelers trying to pass off washed pieces as the real deal.

Gold Plating

Even today, people still think that gold plating counts as authentic gold. However, the requirements for an item to be classified as real gold could never be met by plating alone. If anyone tries to tell you that a gold-plated item counts as the real thing, walk away.

gold plating

Pyrite Application

There’s a reason pyrite is known around the world as “fool’s gold.” It might look a lot like the real thing at first glance, but even a quick rub will quickly reveal that this is not the case.

Pyrite is the reason why cheap fake gold often leaves green and black smudge discoloration marks, as this is a chemical reaction that occurs when pyrite is exposed to the atmosphere.


Pinchbeck is a combination of alloy and zine and is often used in cutlery and home decor. Some people might try to pass this off as real gold, but it is very easy to find out whether you are dealing with Pinchbeck. All you need to do is see if the item bends easily. Gold will not bend in your hands, pinchbeck will.

How to Check if Gold Is Real With a Lighter

Testing gold is a global industry, since there is so much money riding on whether the gold in your hands or in that bank vault is what it is claimed to be.

However, you don’t need any fancy machine or chemistry lab to test the gold in your house. You can simply conduct the lighter test to see what you’re dealing with. Here’s how it works:

Choose Your Weapon

First off, remember that not any old lighter will do. You need a proper, butane lighter filled with actual lighter fluid – not one of those cheap disposable lighters. You’ll want to make sure that the lighter can produce a tall flame.


You should be careful not to hold the item before applying an open flame to it, as it will get hot and potentially lead to a nasty accident. Instead, hang the item on a non-flammable object such as a nail in the wall.


Once your gold is hanging safely, it’s time to try the lighter test! Hold the butane torch to the gold for at least 60 seconds. If the gold is real, it will get lighter in color the hotter it gets. If the gold is fake, it will get darker the hotter it gets. If you notice no change after 60 seconds, you can try again, but be careful not to damage or melt the gold.

Shore Up Your Wealth

Knowing how to check if gold is real with a lighter is a cost-free way to determine the value of your precious items. Instead of relying on gold dealers and jewelers who might not always have your best interests at heart, this method will give you the peace of mind and knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your wealth.

For more tips on shoring up your wealth and building solid financial foundations for your future, we have got you covered. Make sure to consult our dedicated Business & Finance pages for expert insights on building long-term prosperity for yourself and your family.

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