The 49’ers that traveled to the west in search of gold had a dream of striking it rich. These hard working men didn’t want fool’s gold and knew that with patience their hard work would pay off. Geologists estimate that only 20% of the world’s supply of gold was uncovered during the gold rush which leaves an estimated 80% waiting to be found today! The price of gold today is at an all time high and the allure of panning for gold has become a serious business.
Gold mining may be carried out in two ways: the easy and the hard way. The process of panning is what we focus on and is what you will notice when you see an old photo of prospectors panning near a stream. This method is often used by serious prospectors to sample an area before bringing in big machines. It involves filling a pan with the crushed ore to separate the gold from other materials such as rocks. More advanced techniques often involve the use of heavy and expensive machinery to unearth the gold which may yield better results but at the same time cost more.
How Panning Works
The process of panning can very repetitive so it’s important you stay focused and alert at all times-you never want to miss that big nugget! You will want to fill the pan with the material underwater and shake it from left to right causing the heavier materials (ie gold) to settle at the bottom of the pan. The lighter materials, which are worthless, are worked up to the surface of the pan where they can be brushed away. Tilting the pan downward will also allow the dirty water, sand, and gravel to wash over the edge of the pan. Be sure to toss out the large stones and break up lumps of mud. Continue this process until nothing but gold is left in the pan.
Ideal Panning Locations
- Look for large rocks or tree roots in streams. Gold tends to be concentrated in these areas.
- Along the edge of the stream
Materials Needed for Panning
Panning for gold has been a time honored tradition enjoyed by many generations. It is not uncommon to hear of prospectors finding ounces of gold using the following techniques. First, be prepared to spend about $40 for a decent panning kit. Fisher is a very good mid-level kit and should be enough to get you started. Fisher shoudl be enough for beginers and experts alike. Check out the Fisher kit on Amazon. It will typically include a pan ranging from 10-17 inches in diameter. We recommend a pan that is 12-15 inches as the larger ones allow the pannier to sort out more of the gold bits. Smaller size pans are ideal for children or with people with a small hand size. Most kits also include a glass vile to store show off your loot to your friends.