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The present embodiments relate methods of preparing metal carbides, for example some embodiments relate to methods of preparing metal carbides that do not contain the formation of an intermediate oxide compound. Some embodiments relate to methods that do not employ hydrocarbons in the reaction. Some embodiments relate to a method of preparing metal carbides that involves citrate gel precursors and a non-hydrocarbon gas but does not use a hydrocarbon gas, does not form an oxide intermediate species and does not produce carbon monoxide. In some embodiments, the metal carbides are transition metal carbides.