Panning For Gold

Panning for gold has always been a favorite method of recovering gold from the ground. There are many types of gold pans. There are bucket pans like the roto pan that I believe was an Australian invention that sits in the top of a five gallon bucket into which the materials are placed.

There is water in the bucket that comes up to the level of the bottom of the two piece device. The handles on the top side edges of the upper part of the pan are for gripping and rotating the pan side to side. This top part of the pan has a built in classifier screen in it to keep back the big stones and pieces of junk that may have been put into the pan with a shovel or scoop.

When the pan is rotated the smaller and finer materials pass through this screen and drop into the lower part of the device that catches it. If the material has gold in it the heavier gold stays in the lower part of the device and is kept there where the lighter materials get swirled off and drop into the bucket below.

The dry gold pan has no riffles but has a metal lip at the outer edge of the flat bottom of the pan that looks like a raised metal triangle with the widest part open like a lip. Dry panner’s are great for test panning in areas where you can carry little water and for quick testing areas where you just want to jump out of the vehicle and not deal with water. It is a quick pan to use and you do not need a classifier to use it.

You just put the material in the pan and slant the pan and material toward the triangular lip and shake the material side to side to make sure that all of the heavies are moved toward the triangle. Do this enough times to be sure the gold has gone south of the triangle. Then tip the pan backwards toward yourself and look for nuggets in the material coming back toward you in case they are too large to fit under the lip. You will not want to overload this pan and remember to remove the larger rocks and twigs.

The next step is to take a look at the material that is left in the triangular catchment area. You can suck the material out with a plastic pipette that looks like an eye dropper and examine the material more closely. Always have an eye loupe or pocket microscope with you to check for gold in the material. Some very rich mines remain to be discovered that have micron gold in them.

The next type of pan used in gold panning is the good old steel gold pan that the old timers used. It has been an old standby for many years. The design has been improved by modern miners many times over since the 1800″s. With computer design significant improvements have been made to it. Riffles have been added and wells and nugget traps have been added. These pans are available on line and in mining shops in gold country and are practically indestructible with modern plastics.

My favorite has a wide flat bottom with bumps in it to help separate the gold for you to see visually. It also has a design that allows you to not have to classify your materials and will allow you to catch very fine gold without losing it. One side of the pan has a lip that is slanted toward you as you pan off the lighter junk materials away from you. It also has a small riffle on a side of the pan for getting down to the last bit of black sands and gold without losing it. The other lip of the pan is slanted a bit outward toward you in case you want to scrape out the larger materials while not losing the material on the other side of the pan. This pan is the fastest and easiest pan I have ever used and its blue color allows me to see gold easily.

Gold pans have standard colors: black, green, and blue. I see gold better with blue but others see it better with green or black. Pans can be large for normal use or smaller for finishing or clean up. Many ladies like the smaller pans because they fit their hands better. Just remember to remove the larger rocks and twigs with your hands or a classifier screen first unless your pan was made to use without a classifier. Have fun folks and remember to be safe out there!