This being the inaugural post in my brand new blog, I thought I'd start things out simple! The first tip I will reveal might seem small and insignificant, but if you're new to gold panning it can be a really important one!
First things first!! The snow from winter is all but melted, spring went ahead and sprang, and now summer is approaching. Gold Panning season is nearly underway! Here in the Okanagan, and much like the rest of B.C. the rivers & creeks have been quite high due to the heavier than expected snow fall. That means more water pushing more dirt and washing more glorious yellow gold down the stream for you and I to discover.
Now when I first started panning I shudder to think of all the gold I missed out on because of this! I use and always have used the new type of pans that are made of high strength plastics (Garret Super Sluice 14" is my favorite). The biggest problem with these pans that most people don't realize is that in the plastic molding process the pans get sprayed with an oil so they don't stick to the mold. Even the oil from your hands can have a similar effect! That oil doesn't come off easy and it can cost you a lot of small "flour" gold.
Whats the harm in losing small microscopic bits of gold? well since the gold rush ended so many decades ago, that's most of what you'll be finding. The smallest bits of gold can be an indicator that you're beginning to look in the right place. If you miss that, you might miss out on a bigger cache or sweet spot.
So, to make sure your gold pan is properly broken in and ready for the start of another fun filled season, its important that you find some kind of de-greaser soap... anything that will take that mold oil off. But wait, you're not done there! You further improve your ability to find gold in your pan by taking some sand / sand paper / anything gritty and roughing up the pan a little bit. It really helps to slow the gold down and seperate it from the other lighter particles. Just be careful not to create any burs or extrustions on the surface, the goal here is flat and smooth but still textured.