I would like to go hunting for uranium ore, and because it has a relatively low melting point (1132.2 °C), I thought it would be cool to melt it just like any other metals. According to this video extracting yellowcake (mainly U3O8, UO2 and UO3) is relatively easy, however, how could I remove the oxigen from the oxides? Or is it easier to obtain the uranium directly from the ore in another way?

EDIT: because of all of the comments I've received I'm going to explain better the question:

  • I'm well aware of the dangers of handling uranium, a weak radioactive materials, the fact that it's dangerous as an heavy metal and that the ore is more radioactive than the pure metal because there are products of the decaying chain that are more active tha the uranium itself.

  • I know all the regulations and laws in my country, so that I know how much I can keep it (about 0.1 curie) and what I can and what I cannot do with my uranium source. I also know where I can get it withouth getting in trouble.

  • what I need to know is what chemical peocess I could use to extract pure uranium metal (238U + 235U) that I can melt in whatever shape I please. And no, I don't want to make a nuke because that would be impossible

  • $\begingroup$ Assuming that you do know what you are doing, you should go for reference chemical synthesis books. The readily available sources point that the metal may be produced by electrolisys of molten salt mixture or by reaction of halides with alkali or alkali-earth metals. Neither process looks like something I would consider safe and worth the effort, and definitely neither should be employed without proper description of experimental procedure, that should be obtained in specialized literature. $\endgroup$
    – permeakra
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 7:48

2 Answers 2


There is another process for extraction of Uranium from the uranium ore in the form of UO2(NO3)2 by dissolving the Uranium ore in nitric acid and extract of uranium using 20% solution of Tributyl phosphate/dodecane. TBP form strong complex with uranium nitrate and thus you can easily remove uranium from other impurities. Obtained UO2(NO3)2 can easily be converted to (NH4)2U2O7 by reacting with ammonia and finally reduction with hydrogen gave you UO2. You can't obtained pure Uranium because it is susceptible to oxidation easily.


From theoretical perspective:

For a long time elemental uranium wasn't known. Scientists tried to heat the ore with carbon, but the result was uranium carbide, not uranium. Eventually it was obtained by first into UO$_2$(NO$_3$)$_2$ and then to UO2 and then reduction with hydrogen gas.

From practical perspective (I would assume you want to make a nuke):

Uranium ore is a strategic resource and is well guarded. Mines always belong to someone and guards are dead serious there. If they catch you - you are in trouble. Uranium ore is dangerous. Not even because of decay of U (it lives billions of years), but because of the product of it's decay. You will get a dose of radiation if you are not well equipped.

Even if you succeed, you will blow yourself up when trying to reduce it in the flow of hydrogen at 500C. This will be a simple chemical explosion, you will be cut by shattered glass and cleaning of the place from radioactive contamination is expensive. In US they will take away your house because loan contract says that you promise not to do it at home. Seriously.

Finally, if you magically get pure uranium it is quite useless. You now need to extract $^{235}$U, or, better, turn some into Pu$^{239}$. There is zero chance to succeed in it. It took US 3 years, an army o0f engineers and 1 billion dollars (back then it was a lot more than now) to get the first nuke.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't want to make a nuke, I'm not inrerested in enriching uranium and I know that it's extremely difficult. I would just like to get some 238U and melt it something I can bring around like a coin. Also uranium is not that dangerous: it has a low radioactivity and mainly of alpha particles, not dangerous until eaten or inhaled, it is only tpxic as an heavy metal. Lastly I know avandoned uranium mine $\endgroup$
    – Mauro F.
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ Low grade uranium ore is all over the place. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 24, 2016 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ @MauroF. Uranium cannot be carried around like a coin. It oxidizes on air, but unlike most metals does not form a protective oxide film, so the "rust" (in this case it will be yellow uranium oxide) will eat through your coin. Uranium samples have to be kept either under oil or in an inert atmosphere. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ @MauroF. While having lead-enforced pants is not a strict requirement for work with uranium, it certainly helps. Wearing such a coin with yourself all the time is not a wise idea. Radiation damage accumulates, so given enough time it will cause trouble. Luckily, most uranium radioactivity is rather soft, especially if we consider U-238. Uranilacetate was fairly available in the past as analytical reagent, so chances are you can hit it, given enough time. $\endgroup$
    – permeakra
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ @MauroF. Probably the safest route would be to make a ceramic/glass piece using uranium oxide and then enclose it into some glass shell. $\endgroup$
    – permeakra
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 21:45

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