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INTRODUCTION TO GOLD PANNING


First some basic equipment

  1. gold pan
  2. classifier
  3. sniffer bottle
  4. shovel
  5. hand trowel

        Fill your pan with water and set your classifier inside the pan. Use your shovel to take some material from the streambed and dump it in the classifier. Shake the classifier to get the smaller material into the pan. The material in your pan should be about 1" deep. Look through the material left in the classifier to make sure there are no nuggets, then throw that material to the side. With the pan full of gravel and water, vigorously shake the pan, making sure not to lose any material over the side. This action gets all the heavier material to sink to the bottom. Gold, being the densest material in the pan, will go to the very bottom of the pan. Holding the pan at an angle, partially submerged in the water, use a back and forth or circular motion to make the water wash the top layer of material away. Do not push the material out of the pan...let the water do the work. Stop frequently to shake the heavies back down to the bottom of the pan. As you continue, you will notice that the material is getting smaller, and darker in color. When the material turns almost black, stop. You now have what is called black sand, made up mostly of hematite and magnetite. Your gold is also in this material. With a small amount of water in your pan, twirl the pan slowly with two hands so that the water washes away the black sand is it goes around the pan. It is at this point that you should begin to see your gold. You can continue to pan down your black sand as far as you feel comfortable of not losing the gold. When it is panned down as far as you want it, use your sniffer bottle to suck up the gold.

What part of the stream is likely to hold the most gold?

Gold is likely not moving in the stream while you are mining. Gold moves during the winter and spring, when the water level is highest, so when you are looking at the stream imagine it as it would look when the water is high.