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Gold prospecting and panning

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posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 03:55 AM
Gold prospecting and panning is something that I have just started looking into.
While I get most of the basics, i.e. how to pan, the general areas to look etc..

I feel that it is one of those things which will take years to understand properly.
Which is why I figured I would ask here for any basic tips, recommendation, advice or just explanations revolving around any part of the prospecting and panning process.

Is it better to pan or dig?
Are there some tell tale signs in for example the landscape which may tell you that you could be close to gold?

Anything would be appreciated to help build up my knowledge.


posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 04:34 AM
I am no expert in this area,but look for places with quartz deposits and bends in the river where sediment builds up
Good luck in your pursuits and watch out for signs of Gold fever.

posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 05:07 AM
It would be easier to watch than try and explain..

So simply go to YouTube and type in "How to Pan Gold".. You'll be surprised how many instructional videos are in there for you.

And no.. it won't take you that long to get the knack of it. If you remember this that as long as you keep the material under water (always in a fluid state), always shaking and reducing the lighter material to leave the heaviest of "concentrates" in the bottom of your pan (stratifying), you'll be fine.. The reason why you always want the material under water is that if it dries out (even in a matter of seconds), you can lose the smaller (flour) gold by it floating out (yes I said the gold floating off, has to do with surface tension). Always remove larger rocks by hand out of the pan (always reducing, always condensing down).

And when you get the material down to black sand, start slowing down in the reducing/eliminating of the lighter stuff. When you get to about a tablespoon of the black sands, you can swirl the pan with a little bit of water (just enough to cover the top of the material), and you'll start to see the gold (if you have any at all). Remember gold's specific weight and density is the heaviest of all metals, so it wants to go to the bottom. Thats why those that dig down to 'bedrock' will usually get the bigger and better nuggets. If all you do is scoop up the first foot or so, your lucky to find 'flour gold (microscopic sized).

Practice makes perfect and always do so over another pan or bucket to catch your material (and just in case you blow it, you'll still be able to re-do it). I'm going to add a few links (I'm not affiliated with any of these folks but their instruction is correct).


How to Pan for Gold

How To Pan For Gold - Complete YouTube Search

A great book to read on the subject of finding gold is called "Underwater Sniping for Gold" (by Sam Radding and Jim Garlock). I happen to have met Jim Garlock and he really knows his stuff (and a hell of a nice guy too).

BTW, I'm a third generation miner, here's a small piece of real old gravel bed gold I found not too long ago when I dug into an ancient river bed.

posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 05:24 AM
reply to post by HumanCondition

I have done some panning here in alaska. It's back breaking work for what little you find at first but once you find a good spot it does pay off. Dredging is quicker but more costly. Plus you have to find an area you can do it. Lot of people don't like strangers on their land either. So it's best to make friends with them and let them know what you are doing. Or you could use a metal detector and go for a good walk.

posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 08:27 AM
Beware: Gold fever is like being in love with a beautiful woman that you know you will never have.

The easiest to obtain gold is placer which is gold that has eroded out of the rocks enclosing it and has been carried away from the deposit usually by water erosion. When walking a stream bed, deposits of black sand will tell you that there is mineralization there. They will also show you the likely places to dig in the sediments because the black sands are heavy, but not as heavy as gold. Thus the black sands settle in the same spots that gold does. Note however that black sand mineralization is NOT a guarantee of the presence of gold, it just means the conditions are right for the formation of gold deposits.

When scouting the hillsides for likely gold deposits, one should look for mineralization just like when prospecting stream deposits. You will be looking again for signs of mineralization. Iron and copper are two minerals that like to hang out with gold. Therefor you should look for red earth and quartz. Crumbling and rotten looking rusty mineralization will be one of the best hang outs for gold seams and nuggets.

Getting down to specifics on placer deposits: Gold is heavy and will, when the water is running in a wash or river, fall to the bottom and embed itself against the bedrock. In the desert many folks make a big stink about flood gold. That is gold RECENTLY loosed and carried into the wash by rains. Personally I discount this because it means that you will have to use a dry washer to process many, many five gallon buckets of dirt. I have been this route and have recovered little. What I like to do is shovel off most of the overburden and get down to bedrock. Using a gas powered vacuum cleaner of my own construction, I will clean off the remaining overburden and save it for processing. Then I get out my chisels and pointy crevice tools and loosen all the dirt and tiny rocks in the pock marks and crevices and vacuum this out. Then I get out my hand sledge and use it with the chisels to break apart any cracks and further vacuum out what I get out of them. I carry my gear through the washes on a home made two wheel hand cart with bicycle wheels and tires. I use the solid rubber inner tubes to avoid flats.

MERCURY WARNING: Note that in years bygone prospectors used mercury liberally to recover fine gold in streams and washes. Because the dangers of mercury were not as well known as today lots of it was sloshed into the stream beds. You are likely to run into this when processing gravels for gold extraction. Be careful. I have run into this in the Goldfield mountains outside Apache Junction in Arizona also in the Bradshaw mountains of Arizona. I usually discover it while panning out my concentrates where I notice the little beads of silver bouncing around in my pan.
edit on 7-20-2012 by groingrinder because: Edited for mercury warning.

posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 08:29 AM
reply to post by JohnnyAnonymous

I met Sam Radding. He is a really nice guy. I also have his two books. Sam Raddings Book of Plans Vol1 and Vol2 which detail easy to make prospecting and processing equipment.

posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 12:42 PM
If you've never done any panning, I would recommend buying some "paydirt" off Ebay or somewhere first to practice.

If you do, look at the sellers feedback first to see if people are getting anything good out of it.
I bought a couple bags last summer and actually almost broke even but it was mostly for the practice
for when I go out this year.

posted on Jul, 20 2012 @ 09:26 PM
Wow, thanks everyone for your great replies!
Really appreciate it and karma should bring gold your way I suspect.


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