So here you are! probably a first timer if you're reading this, or maybe you're just unsure of your technique and needing some reinforcement. Whatever the case this guide should set you straight on how to gold pan. If you've found gold on your own you've probably got the bug, but to help you nourish and feed that bug into a full blown gold fever there's some things you should know about your trusty pan! As mentioned in my first post you're going to want to break your gold pan in so you're not shooting yourself in the foot right out of the gate. It doesn't hurt to practice in your backyard with some led pellets or BB's and dirt you have lying around. In fact it can save you a lot of time since you won't be missing gold all over the place out in the field! This way you know what to look for and you can get a really good idea if you're doing the actions properly.
Step 1: So gold pan in hand and a stream or bin of water nearby you're going to want to get some dirt in that pan of yours. Classify the Dirt into 1/4" or less. Lets assume for now we won't be finding any 1/4" nuggets!
Step 2: Once you've got your dirt classified and your pan filled 3/4's full, submerge it and mix water in with it. This agitation sinks the gold to the bottom.
Step 3: Now the panning starts! pull the pan up so it's just level with the water and shake it back and forth, side to side, and twist it. This again helps all the gold settle to the bottom.
Step 4: To remove the lighter materials from the gold pan, you're going to want to tip the edge with the riffles into the water.While keeping that end submersed in the water you're going to begin doing circular or oval motions using the entire length of your arms from your shoulders down. This is one recreational activity that isn't all in the wrist! After a couple swirls around you should be noticing the top layer of lighter materials kind of sloughing or washing off... That's good, but get too carried away and you're going to start washing away gold too! In my experience most of the fine gold never settles to the bottom on the first try so remember to shake it often. The riffles or ledges on the inside of the gold pan the are designed to catch the gold and heavier materials while allowing the lighter stuff to wash over and out. Continue in this fashion until you get down to just the heavy materials like the picture below.
Step 5: What you should have now is what's called black sand concentrates. It will be a bit of black sand, a bit of the blond sands that were too stubborn to leave the pan, and with a little luck you'll have some gold!! (or your bb's). That black sand you're seeing is a mixture of Magnetite and iron. Its heavy stuff and it seems to be almost everywhere in trace amounts. If there's none left in your pan you're probably panning to hard and fast. Slow it down and make sure to shake it every so often!
Step 6: Clean up! My best suggestion is to dump whats left in your pan into a small container to take home. Clean up will be more comfortable and you'll have better control over the environment. All that means is that you're less likely to lose any precious gold. If you do decide to separate the gold from the black sands in the field, use a catch basin so you're not accidentally losing anything as it can be very tricky to separate the gold from the black sand.
Stay posted for How to use the New Square pans everyone is raving about, as well as an older type of gold pan that is making a comeback. The Grizzly! It's great for quick processing and there is a new one on the market with a lifetime warranty. If you're got any info you think might help improve this site, please let me know! Better yet!, if you think you want to write a how to of your own, share a story or have anything to share at all please feel free to leave a comment with your contact info! Hope you enjoyed this breif guide on How to gold pan.