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How to pan for gold

Updated on March 29, 2010

Panning for gold can be a fun and healthy way to spend some of your extra time. You get to spend quality time with your family looking for that precious metal. If you are going to pan for gold for pleasure you do not want to lose that precious metal by panning the improper way. There are many people who have ideas on how to pan for gold and I have tested many of their ways, however, the following technique has given me the best results.

The first step is to find a place to pan for gold. There are many places that you can go for free on state land. Make sure when looking for a location that you research and make sure that you are allowed to be there. Going to your local BLM (Bureau of Land Management) can be a very useful place to get started. You need to make sure that there is gold in the area you are going to pan or it will be a waste of your time. You can also join a gold panning club like the GPAA (Gold Panning Association of America) they have claims that members can use to pan for gold, when you join you also get a gold pan and a snuffer bottle to suck up the gold.

If there is no place to pan for gold nearby you can buy pay dirt. I have had some success with it and you can usually purchase it at a reasonable cost. The problem with pay dirt is you will never have a chance to get lucky and hit the mother lode. Most companies that sell pay dirt guarantee that you will find gold therefore it is pretty safe. When panning at home with pay dirt I utilize a kids swimming pool, this is a reasonably priced choice and works well.

Once you have found a place to pan for gold or have decided to go with pay dirt there are a few things you are going to need:

Gold Pan

Snuffer Bottle

Glass or plastic vial

Once you get everything you need head down to the river or go outside to you little pool.

Put three or four big hands full of dirt into your gold pan. Put the gold pan into the water and saturate it completely. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. While holding your pan with one hand put your other hand into your pan and mix up the dirt break apart any dirt clumps or clay, then grab the pan with both hands and shake it vigorously with the pan under the water. Gold is heavier than dirt so it will sink to the bottom of the pan.

After you are done shaking the pan, take it out of the water dip the tip of the pan into the water and slightly move the pan from side to side letting the water take off the top layer of dirt. Repeat this until your dirt is almost gone. Repeat this process until you can only see black sand in your pan. Black sand is very heavy also but it is not as heavy as gold. You are now ready to see if you have any gold in your pan. Make sure you concentrate all of your black sand to one end of your pan. Put a small amount of water in your pan, and gently swirl it around, and tap the top of your pan once in a while. If there is gold in your pan you should start to see is shining through. Soon your black sand will be at the bottom of the pan and your gold will be at the top. Take your snuffer bottle and suck it up. Once you are done panning, take the small straw out of the snuffer bottle and dump the gold and water from your snuffer into the vial.

You have done it! It will take some practice to get the hang of it but It is a very rewarding experience. There is no better feeling than seeing what your hard work and determination can do. Just be careful that you do not catch gold fever and go crazy,crazy,crazy.

I will add a video this summer when I am out panning for the beautiful yellow gold.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      very interesting Golding might be fun!

    • dpfitzell profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from North Dakota

      Thank you Bkcreative. There is no better feeling than finding some gold in your pan, for your hard work.

    • BkCreative profile image


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Well, I'm making a list of fun things to do this summer and this will certainly be on the list.

      Thanks for all the information! I'm looking forward to your video!


    • dpfitzell profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from North Dakota

      Thank you very much.

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Great hub. Very interesting.


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