Learning how to Pan for Gold

    Panning is quite a simple thing to learn, however it does take some practice. Panning can be done by following these steps:

    • Locate an area in a stream where the water is deep enough for you to dunk your pan into completely and an area where the water is flowing enough to carry off the muddy water.
    • Put your pan in the water and fill it up around three fourths of the dirt and gravel you are the going to work on washing. After you have done this, dip your pan into the stream and fill it with some water. You can use one of your hands to hold the pan and the other to break up any lumps of mud or gravel that might be in the material you have picked up.
    • Next you will need to swirl the dirt in the pan around. This should be done gently though and using a circular motion. Doing this will make the dust and clay to float up to the top.
    • Then submerge your pan in once again and keep on swirling the dirt around so that the lighter material floats away.
    • After the water has become clearer, take out the biggest pebbles that are evident and get rid of them.
    • Then keep the pan right under the water and tip it a little bit away from yourself. Then start to swirl the water around the pan with a slight, forward and tossing movement. Do this very watchfully forcing the lighter materials out of the pan. If you are going to be using a plastic pan make sure the riffles on it are placed on the front because this way the gravel will pass over them while you throw the gravel out.
    • Every once in awhile, level your pan and shake it in a back and forth movement. This will make the materials that are lighter go up to the top and the gold to sink down to the bottom.
    • Keep doing the same thing over and over until you are only left with the heavier materials in the pan. Normally the material that is left in the pan is black sand and the gold is usually located underneath it. These are the concentrates or black sand.
    • Next step is to take the pan out of the stream and pour out most of the water in it. Make sure you leave just enough water to cover the black sand in the pan about half an inch. The shake the pan so that everything moves to the front of the pan and tilt it forward. Then tilt the pan towards yourself and begin swirling it again until the black sand has been removed and the gold can be seen. If you see there are little nuggets you can take them out with your hand but if they are gold flecks you should use a pair of tweezers. Then place the gold in a plastic bottle.
    • Another thing is that plastic pans facilitate the process of using a magnet in the final processing stage. You can place a magnet underneath the pan and tilt the pan a little bit while at the same time moving the magnet in a small, circular movement. This will cause the magnetic black sand to separate from the gold.