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Panning for Gold

Updated on December 3, 2012
Gold Nuggets
Gold Nuggets

Gold Prospecting

Have you ever thought of panning for gold?

I imagine loads of people have thought about it, but have never got round to it, especially if they live in an area not known for its gold deposits.

A quick Google search will tell you the known gold deposit areas around the world, but there has to be many more that have lain undiscovered, just waiting for someone like you to come along and discover it.

Gold is to be found in every single country in the world.

Some countries may have very little of it, while others seems to have an abundance, though it’s never that easy to get to when some mines in the world stretch for miles underground in man’s relentless search for this precious yellow metal.

Gold prospecting has enticed man for many years, ever since the first gold rush.

Gold Nuggets Comparable Size to Match
Gold Nuggets Comparable Size to Match

How to Pan for Gold

Planning Permissions and Equipment Needed

Panning for gold is different to gold mining. Panning is done in water, in the soft alluvial deposits washed off mountains by streams of water.

It is seldom a gold prospector finds gold in any quantity doing this, but he has great fun trying!

If you want to try panning for gold in a river or stream near you, you will need to check your local planning department to see if you are allowed to.

The land belongs to someone, and they may object to your panning for gold on their land, although mostly riverbanks are, like the rivers themselves, not private property.

However, check with your local authority as I suggest as the rules are different in each country or state the world over.

You will need a pan specially designed for panning for gold.There should be a serrated edge on one side so that when you gently shake the pan, the heavier deposits are left behind.

Gold is heavy, heavier than stones and heavier than the similarly colored Fool’s Gold, iron pyrite. If you’re not sure what you have collected from your pan, keep it anyway.

A jeweller will soon tell you the difference.

The idea is that you put a handful of earth or silt into this wide and shallow pan and swish it around at the surface of the water so that the practically weightless and worthless grains of sand and grit wash away in the water.

You have to keep repeating the process until all you have left at the bottom of the pan are larger stones and, if you are very lucky, flakes of metal.

If this metal is yellow the chances are you have struck gold.

The yellow of Fool’s Gold is paler and shinier but obviously you would need to have the two side by side to tell the difference, and after a while experience will tell you which is which.

The exciting thing about panning for gold is that you never know when you are going to strike it lucky.

Serious gold-panners have invested money in buying equipment to help them find gold.

These include gold metal detectors which are a relatively new invention. They act like metal-detectors, but have in built sensor to tell you what type of metal is underground. Gold panners often use gold metal detectors before they actually start panning in an area to see if any gold is there before they go to all the hard work of actually panning.

Another tool many buy is a piece of suction equipment to suck the sandy soil up and into their pan. They call this a suction dredge and it saves a lot of hard work, as well as allowing access to deeper, stonier underwater ground where years and years of alluvial deposits have built up.

Serious Gold Panning

Sluice Boxes

Sluice boxes are better used in areas where you have a flow of water as your sluice box can channel that water into small area and are not only much easier to use than pans, your can rake through a greater amount of silt. While you can make one yourself out of wood, you will find them heavy and bulky to carry around, and it is probably better if you invest in a lightweight plastic one which is easy to move. Sluice boxes are great for the weekend hobbyist.


For the serious gold prospector, dredges when used in gold areas can pay for themselves over and over in the sheer volume of gold they find. Many have inbuilt power to move the water over the greater bulk of silt they dredge up from the bottom of the stream via a powerful suction hose. They not only do all the hard work for you, they find gold that the prospector armed with only a pan could never dream of finding.

The use of dredges may require planning permission, so it is always best to check with your local authority if you are allowed to use a dredge in the area you are planning to do your gold prospecting.


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    • profile image

      John 12 days ago

      Good hub. You can also pay a jeweler to melt your placer into a nugget. It makes it handy if you want to keep it, and can be sold to others for their jewelry. Just a thought.

    • SouthEasternGold profile image

      SouthEasternGold 6 years ago from Alabama

      Nice hub! I'm glad there are others like myself that try and help out fellow prospectors. Way to go! Check out my blog, very similar to your hub.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      Go for it! I wish there was a place around here I could go gold panning!

    • dgicre profile image

      dgicre 7 years ago from USA

      Great Hub! Loved the video he makes it look easy. Makes me want to go out and do some more gold panning.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      Sounds really exciting Jarabacoagold!

    • Jarabacoagold profile image

      Jarabacoagold 7 years ago from Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic

      Great information. I am fortunate enough to go Gold panning about 3 times a week in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. We run a small Gold panning adventure company here and have great lot every trip. Visit us