A publishing experiment
at the nexus of research and collaboration.

Aqua Regia (AR) is an artist-run not-for-profit print periodical, a publishing project, and an experimental creative platform. We showcase young and emerging creative talent from near and far.

The Chemistry

Aqua regia is an acid solution with the formula of HNO3+3HCl. It is a deep gold, and sometimes red, fuming liquid in appearance. Named by alchemists for its ability to dissolve noble metals such as gold or platinum, aqua regia translates from Latin to ‘regal’ or ‘king’s water.’ It is the only known acid to dissolve gold with purity above eighteen karats. Aqua regia has a molar ratio of 1:3 nitric acid to hydrochloric acid; however, alone, neither constituent acid will react with gold. Being a powerful oxidizer, nitric acid dissolves gold into Au3+ ions, which then reacts with the chlorine ions of hydrochloric acid to produce chloroaurate anions (AuCl4-). This results in the removal of gold ions from the solution, and the gold is dissolved completely to form chloroauric acid (HAuCl4). With extremely corrosive properties and a rapidly changing composition that produces toxic fumes, aqua regia must be handled with care with proper equipment and appropriate safety precautions.