Friday, February 6, 2009

How to Pan for Gold

Panning for gold is the easiest way to prospect for gold so this article on how to pan for gold will come in handy for those venturing out with gold in their eyes and excitement in their hearts for gold.

All it takes is a few simple tools, a panning dish and lots of patience and a sharp eye.
The best gold pan is a black hard wearing plastic pan around 10 to 14 inches in diameter with ripples in it. If you cannot get that, any plastic pan will do. Preferably a dark color as then gold will show up easier in the pan. A small digging tool, such as a garden trowel, some muslin, small transparent containers to put your gold will give you a good start to panning for gold.

When you arrive at the gold panning area, if you are not with an instructor and are on your own you will want to seek the best place to pan for gold. The best thing is to look around for a spot where the water is at least six inches deep and flowing steady enough to keep the muddy water clouding your view of the pan. It is a good idea to pick a spot where you can sit down comfortably also.

First of all fill the pan three quarters with gravel then submerge it just under the surface of the flowing water. Shake the pan vigorously back and forth a few times but don't wash the material out of the pan. You must want to loosen up the material in the pan.

Then change the movement from a shaking to a gentle circular movement, swirling the material around in the pan. It is a good ideas to practice this at home with some sand or dirt from the garden before you go out prospecting. Then when you do go out you will be a practiced ‘old hand’ at it. As the material revolves in the pan most of the dirt and clay will start to separate and dissolve. Roots and moss and large pieces of rock or gravel can be picked out of the pan gently shaking off any surplus over the pan. You can also rub them between your fingers to dissolve any lumps.

Keep doing this over and over again until you get the smaller rocks coming to the surface and the heavier concentrate to settle in the bottom of the pan.

Now hold the pan just under the surface of the water and tilt it away from you. Start to swirl the water, gently, from side to side with a slight forward tossing motions. Take care not to be too rough. The object of the game is to dislodge the lighter material from the concentrate and have it spill out over the edge of the pan.

Continue doing the above a few times until you have just a small concentrate left in the bottom of the pan. If you pan has ridges all the better as heavier material will become lodged in the crevasses of the pan.

Eventually you will have around a couple of cups of what is called black 'concentrate'. You can check the concentrate for small nuggets and specks of gold now. These can be picked out by hand and put safely to one side.

Now sink the pan under the flowing water again and repeat the above. Do this very gently and keep a sharp look out as this is where you are likely to find any gold. Be careful here not to wash out any gold. They can be very minute specks. Sometimes people use a very strong magnet which they run along under the pan to isolate any potential gold. The pan has to be plastic for this rather than metal of course.

If you are using a steel pan you will need to ensure you remove all oil from the pan before you use it. Otherwise the oil, being very sticky, will mix with the concentrate and make it very hard to separate the gold from the concentrate. The quickest way of ensuring all the oil is removed is by 'burning' the pan over a camp fire. One must be cautious doing this of course and it cannot be done on a day of total fire ban. Check with your local authorities if it is ok to do this first. When the pan is heated and the oil is removed immediately dunk it in cold water, This will temper the steel and give it a blue hue and make it harder as well as making it easier to spot gold.

Many gold panning prospectors have a small bottle of detergent nearby and use a few drops to break the surface tension of the water. This speeds up the separation process very well.

Also a panning sieve is a useful item to have. The sieve sits on top of the gold pan and can screen larger material such as pebbles etc, and this makes the panning process a little easier. There are many sieves available with different mesh sizes from 1 quarter of an inch to a 100 mesh size screen.

As in many things, practice makes perfect and practicing so that one is proficient in panning will save a lot of time when the day comes to start panning and will go a long way to ensuring that you find the gold you’re looking for and the above tips will help the new person get an idea how to pan for gold.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Where to Sell Your Prospected Gold

Once you have accumulated some gold from your gold prospecting, the next questions you might ask is where to sell your prospected gold?

In fact it could be a good idea to actually keep and accumulate the gold you prospect for and find. The value has been increasing ever year for several years and, with the current economic climate, is very likely to continue. So stashing away your gold could be a very good idea.

However, if you really want to sell your prospected gold nuggets there are several places you can do so.

Firstly, it is very likely that the place you are prospecting, will have operators who are willing to buy your prospected gold. Even the club or association you belong to or some of their members may be willing to buy your gold. Especially if you were prospecting on an arranged tour. Alternatively, you can seek out gold buyers (and there are plenty of those) on the open market, or even sell your gold nuggets on such places as eBay for example. Scrap gold dealers is another alternative to selling your prospected gold.

A few pointers on selling your gold nuggets. Make sure you are aware of the current price of gold. This does not mean using the current futures price of gold as given on the news such as Sky, CNN etc. Check out the price per ounce being asked for and bought on eBay. eBay gold prices gives you a good idea of the current prices of gold in the market place. Currently these prices will be substantially higher that the gold futures price so THAT is the sort of prices you should be looking for when it comes to selling your gold. These are the prices people are willing to pay for gold in the real market. So who ever you sell your gold to, keep in mind the price you can expect to get.

Gold Field Operators will tend to offer you the gold futures price of gold as "that is the market price on the news." Unless they are willing to offer a decent price it is more worthwhile keeping it and selling it yourself on the open market. If you have a large quantity, such a large gold nugget or a couple of ounces or more, it is a good idea to get it valued by a gold assayer.

eBay will more than likely fetch the market price for gold. Same with other auction houses. A lot can depend on the quality and quantity of gold you are selling. You can get a good price for a large gold nugget but the number of buyers will be less, mostly due to the price.

Scrap Gold Buyers will give you the advertised market price per ounce, much the same as gold field operators. Much will depend on how quickly you want to sell your prospected gold. The quicker you want or need to sell it the cheaper you will sell it for.

Of course you may have the fortune to discover a very large gold nugget. Say 10 or 20 ounces. This is every prospectors dream. But rare as it may be, it does happen of course, and you can command a high price for it. Usually such events make the media and then you would be likely to get some interesting offers for the nugget. Such nuggets can sell at auction houses, such as Sothebys etc for large sums of money.

The longer you keep your gold the more it may increase in value. On the other hand, if you intend to sell your gold, it is really a matter of knowing where to look around to find out where the best market is to sell your prospected gold.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gold Prospecting Tours

Gold prospecting tours are an excellent way to start prospecting for gold especially for the new gold prospector as you can enjoy prospecting for gold while benefiting from the experience of others.

Many gold prospecting clubs and associations run gold prospecting tours for their members. These are usually for a few days and cost a few dollars. Some provide the equipment, either on loan or for a 'rental fee' There are variations in transport and living arrangements also depending on the clubs and what arrangements they make.

One can participate in a gold prospecting tour to pan for gold or to use a gold metal detector or even both. It will depend on the type of tour you go on.

Some gold prospecting tours are arrangement for a few days or weeks. One goes "bush", in Australian parlance. Out to a particular gold field which the club or association has a licence or agreement for and where gold prospecting may be done. Costs vary depending on what is offered and for how long.

Gold Prospecting Tours
Here are a few examples of gold prospecting tours available. There are many more in almost all States of the US, as well as overseas. Australia also has a very extensive range of gold prospecting tours.

The Phoenix Gold Mine in Idaho Springs offer a Mine Tour, Gold Panning and Hiking Trails.
Cost for adults is 15 dollars, children 5 dollars and seniors 8 dollars. Panning only is just 5 dollars. They are very friendly folks, a great mining tour for family. There is no camping but they will loan you a pan and show you how to use it.

Over at Vic's Gold Panning near Blackhawk, 'Jessie' will charged you 8 dollars for a full bucket you can pan out in a trough. He gets to keep what you miss and there is no camping. A good panner might be able to work through 4 or 5 buckets in a day thus $32 - $40 per day. So you will need to have a bit of experience to make it worth your while.

The Country Boy Mine in Breckenridge charges a bit more with adults 18.95 dollars, children 12.95 and children under three 3 dollars. Adults $18.95, Children $12.95 (4-12), Children 3 and under are free. Gold Panning is just $9.95 and includes a pan of dirt and lessons on how to find your Gold. The Country Boy Mine is open from 10 to 4 End of may to August and mornings only Mid August to Mid October.

The Gold Prospectors Association of America (GPAA) is one of the largest gold prospecting clubs around. They charge around 2350 dollars plus your 50 dollar yearly membership to fly from Seattle to their 2300 acre Cripple River Camp in Nome, Alaska.

The Lost Dutchman Mining Association (LDMA) charges around 35 dollars a day or 175 for 5 days in your tent or RV on the mine claims. There is some improved camping available also but one is advised to book in advance. The LDMA charges 950 dollars for a lifetime membership plus monthly maintenance dues of 8 dollars for an individual and 10 dollars for a family. Among the many benefits for this is that serious gold prospecting members can camp for up to 6 months.

Wild West Mining Tours in California have a all inclusive 6 night package including food, tents, showers etc. There is an extra charge for dredgers and other equipment so it is a good idea to take your own. One should book in advance as the reservations accepted are limited. The season is from June through to August and sometimes September.

The Arrowhead Desert Jeep Tours offer a four wheel drive tour into the surrounding Sonoran Desert. They Specialize in gold panning tours to the Panamint Gold Claim. Also offer jeep rallies, cookouts, rafting, team building and much more.

Arizona Adventure Tours offer similar 4 wheel drive Sonoran desert tours! Including gold panning, among the other activities offered.

These are just a sample of what is available. In Australia there are many gold prospecting tours to the gold fields that can last from one day or half a day to the more serious week or more out in the "bush" panning and mining for gold.

Tips When Seeking a Gold Prospecting Tour
Make sure you get all the information from the tour operator.

  • What is included in the tour? Equipment? What equipment, pans, digging equipment, metal detectors, what type and sort. Any training offered on how to use that equipment for the inexperienced?

  • If going for over a day, what else is included. Accommodation? Food? Drinks (water is very important, especially when working on the hot sun).

  • Travel. If the tour is for over a day, is transport provided or does one have to provide one’s own?

  • Costs. What are the costs breakdown? Is there any hidden costs, licence fees or other extra fees taxes etc. One does not want to be hit with an “additional” cost when you arrive which you have not made any allowance for.

  • Do you need to bring anything with you? Ask the Tour operator or guides before you start out. They will know what you need to bring. It can depend on where you are prospecting and how long you will be doing so.

  • Last Word on Gold Prospecting Tours
    When working out in the open, such as gold fossicking, it is a good idea to bring such things as a hat to protect one’s head and face. Plenty of fresh water, anti-insect bite spray, warm clothing if it gets cold or you are caught out in the rain and a good quality paid of hard wearing boots.

    Gold prospecting tours are an excellent way of gaining experience gold prospecting. Usually there are other on the tour who have done it before and can offer useful tips and pointers. Do not be afraid to ask many questions of the tour operators and guides. That is what they are there for. Keeping in mind the above will help you to have a fun time on your gold prospecting tour and maybe find a nice choice gold nugget to take home and show your family and friends!

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Gold Prospecting Areas

    Of course, we would all like to know where the gold prospecting areas are. In fact there are heaps of gold prospecting areas in most states of the US as well as many countries overseas. Many have been worked over already of course several times but there are still ways of finding gold in the two main types of gold deposits, placer gold and lode gold.

    You just have to think outside the square and not look in places where many others simply gravitate to because it seems easy. Many people go to find gold in those same areas that others have been to before. True in many you can still find some grains of gold but you can also spend a lot of time just shifting through what has been shifted through before or run a gold metal detector over what has been run over before.

    So we have some tips and ideas here of where to prospect for gold.
    Prospecting Gold Areas and Maps
    Gold has been found in almost all areas of the US as well as South Africa, Australia and many other countries around. Even the UK has its gold deposits. But these are all areas where gold has been found. Locals will always tell you where gold has been found. Rarely will they tell you where it will be found.

    But even that information can be useful.

    Taking the USA for example, gold can be found in almost all of the states. The gold is either embedded in rock, known as lode gold, or is moved by water and deposited in sand, crevasses, rock, and stream beds. Gold is heavy and so tends to get lodged in cracks and crevices. It will settle out where the flow slows, and work its way down to the bottom of deposited sediments which are then known as concentrates. Being aware of this means it is a bit easier to work out where in a stream to pan for gold. Even dry stream beds can contain placers of gold which have been laid down by flows of water long ago. The best time, however, to work a stream for placer gold is just after a heavy rainfall, The streams are fuller and faster moving and will tend to bring more gold down from higher up.

    Gold also occurs naturally in rock. This is called Lode Gold. This usually needs a gold metal detector to locate. Naturally occurring gold can be found in almost all fifty states.
    Gold is found in all major States of the US. So it is easy to find close to where you live. There will be Government records, in the form of geological reports and maps, which will tell you where and in what quantity gold has been recovered in the past.

    Keep in mind that as gold is washed down into placers on a regular basis, over time, areas where a lot of gold has been found by earlier miners will still likely have more deposits. The 49 ers did not get it all. Far from it. More gold is continually being washed down, particularly after heavy rain falls.

    Of course gravity is the reason gold collects in placers. Gold, being six to seven times heavier than the sediments you find at the bottom of streams, tends to get lodged in crevices and by the usual irregularities you find in stream beds. It takes a lot of force for water to move gold downstream so rapids are not the best place to prospect for gold. Slow moving streams where gold is more likely to become lodged will provide a better option.

    Sometimes a metal detector can find gold here a bit quicker than using a gold pan.

    Prospecting Gold Permission
    In order to prospect for gold you will usually need, in some States or countries, a licence to mine or prospect. You will need to check with the authorities in your area for this. You will also need the permission of the land owner to enter and prospect on their land. Where the land is owned by the Government, or in Australia or the UK Crown Land, you may or may not require permission from the local governmental or State body. In the US one should contact the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and find out the lie of the land (pun intended) before simply embarking on a gold prospecting tour.

    National parks in the USA, are closed to prospecting for example. But certain lands under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management can be entered for prospecting provided the sets of rules and regulations govern entry are followed.

    The following statement from a pamphlet issued in 1978 by the U.S. Department of the Interior and entitled "Staking a mining claim on Federal Lands" answers the question, "Where can I prospect for gold?"

    "There are still areas where you may prospect, and if a discovery of a valuable, locatable mineral is made, you may stake a claim. These areas are mainly in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Such areas are mainly unreserved, unappropriated Federal public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of the U.S.

    Department of the Interior and in national forests administered by the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Public land records in the proper BLM State Office will show you which lands are closed to mineral entry under the mining laws. These offices keep up-to-date land status plats that are available to the public for inspection. BLM is publishing a series of surface and mineral ownership maps that depict the general ownership pattern of public lands. These maps may be purchased at most BLM Offices. For a specific tract of land, it is advisable to check the official land records at the proper BLM State Office."

    Another important reason for checking government records is that some areas are off limits to gold prospecting for one reason or another. Also some areas have already been claimed by earlier prospectors.

    Prospecting Placer Gold Deposits
    A placer gold deposit is where there is a concentration of a natural material accumulated in the sediment of stream beds or even a beach or other natural residual deposit. This is different to gold in rock that is exposed by weathering or some natural or man make process. Placers associated with gravels that are stream remnants from an older erosion cycle are usually a good area to prospect also.

    The gold pan (for more information on Gold Panning go to Gold Prospecting) is a shallow plastic or metal pan used to separate gold particles or nuggets from sediment usually found at the bottom of streams or waterways.

    There are many gold placer districts in the US. California has, among others, the Feather, Mokelumne, American, Cosumnes, Calaveras, and Yuba Rivers. The Trinity River in northern California also has concentrated quantities of gold in gravels.

    Most of the gold mined from Alaska was obtained from placers. There are many rivers, tributaries and streams in Alaska and many have gold deposits in them. Alaska is also known for having gold on its beaches although a gold metal detector is probably the way to go for that. One of the best placer-mining regions has been the Yukon River basin which crosses central Alaska. Beach deposits in the Nome district in the south-central part of the Seward Peninsula can be a fruitful area to explore also. Other productive placers have been found in the drainage basin of the Copper River and the Kuskokwim River.

    A little further down in Montana, you find the main placer-mining districts are in the southwestern part of the State. The most productive being at Alder Gulch near Virginia City in Madison County. Other placer localities include the Missouri River in the Helena mining district and the famous Last Chance Gulch, the site of the city of Helena. There are many other placer areas on the headwaters and tributaries of the Missouri River and especially in Madison County ranking third in total gold production in the State.

    Idaho is not just famous for potatoes. It was once a leading placer-mining State. Extremely fine-grained (or "flour") gold has been found in sand deposits along the Snake River in southern Idaho.

    Placers have also been mined in Colorado in the Fairplay district in Park County, and in the Breckenridge district in Summit County.

    Oregon has more than timber. Important placer mining regions include the streams and rivers that flow from the Blue and Wallowa Mountains. The Burnt River and its tributaries have yielded gold. Farther to the west, placer mining has been productively carried on for many years in the John Day River valley. In southwestern Oregon, tributaries of the Rogue River and neighboring streams in the Klamath Mountains have been known sources of placer gold.

    The Black Hills of Dakota have been producing placer gold for many years, particularly in the deadwood and French Creek near Custer areas. Also in Washington and the Columbia and Snake Rivers and their tributaries)

    Gold, in fact, can be found in most states, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and southern California are the more drier states where one can find gold.

    In the eastern States, gold has been washed from some streams draining the eastern slope of the southern Appalachian region in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. However, much of the land in these States is privately owned and permission is definitely needed to prospect here.

    Prospecting Lode Gold Deposits

    Load gold is different to placer gold. Lode gold occurs within the solid rock in which it was originally deposited. Most of the known load gold deposit areas have been worked over many times and it takes a determined prospector to find gold in these areas. However, having said that, it can be well worth while moving to just outside of these areas. Gold prospecting on the fringe with a gold metal detector, can be very fruitful with careful detecting and a lot of patience.

    The areas in the US where new discoveries of lode gold could be found are too many to list here but some famous districts are: California, the Alleghany, Sierra City, Grass Valley, and Nevada City districts, and the Mother Lode belt; in Colorado, the Cripple Creek, Telluride, Silverton, and Ouray districts; in Nevada, the Goldfield, Tonopah, and Comstock districts; in South Dakota, the Lead district in the Black Hills; and in Alaska, the Juneau and Fairbanks districts. Deposits in these districts are generally gold-quartz lodes.

    Prospecting for lode deposits of gold is as easy as it once was as most outcrops or exposures of mineralized rock have been examined and sampled. A prospector today has to do more work to find gold deposits. Checking broken rock on mine dumps and exposures of mineralized rock in accessible mine workings is one way. Gold, if present, may not be visible in the rock and a good quality gold metal detector will be needed.

    Last Word on Gold Prospecting Areas

    Probably the biggest amount of time spent on gold prospecting areas will be in the research and finding the areas to prospect. Having done that well and, armed with your gold prospecting tools, you can have a lot of exciting fun discovering and finding gold in new gold prospecting areas.

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Gold Prospecting Clubs

    In the US alone there are perhaps 57 to 60 gold prospecting clubs. Other countries, such as Australia have around 6, Canada 3 and other countries have theirs also. In fact, there is no shortage of gold prospecting clubs.

    As well as for the experienced gold prospector, gold prospecting clubs are a very good introduction to the new gold prospector. Providing valuable information on how and where to prospect, even often organising gold prospecting tours, and areas as well as providing information on maps, laws and techniques for gold prospecting.

    Most gold prospecting clubs operate in a specific area, usually a state or province so you are likely to be able to find one in your area. The advantage here is one of locality. They are easier to get to and will have knowledge of the local area as far as gold prospecting is concerned. Also the local gold prospect laws which many states will have can vary from state to state and your local prospecting club will likely have the all the information on those as well.

    Probably the biggest gold prospecting club in the US is the Gold Prospectors Association of America. On their website, gold prospectors they list many chapters in most states as well as a schedule of outings in various parts of the US.

    Membership varies from around 30 dollars for a basic GPAA membership and then various levels up to 120 for a yearly LDMA membership. Some memberships include a prospecting licence so it is worth while checking to see which membership tier is right for you.

    According to the website, "The LDMA is The Lost Dutchman's Mining Association and was founded by George, Wilma, Perry and Tom Massie in 1976 to provide places where men, women and their families could meet, prospect and mine for gold. Beginning with one historic gold property, Italian Bar in California's Mother Lode, the LDMA now has an ever growing number of private properties and claims in several western states and also in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Lost Dutchman's private camps and claims boast some of the finest gold reserves and prospecting in this country."

    All LDMA members have access to a number of valuable mining claims in some of the West’s richest gold mining areas and, importantly, all of the gold that members find is theirs to keep!

    Some memberships include some of the following:

    Membership for the entire family, including husband/ wife or significant others and children under the age of 18. A bi monthly gold prospectors gold prospectors magazine. A Claims Guide Mining Guide. A prospecting Permit, other newsletters and other valuable information and material.

    They also run an extensive library for members.

    There are also other clubs of course with varying prices for membership as well as different facilities and resources for members.

    It is a good idea to shop around and find the club that suits you best. Most will run tours and outings to explore and pan for gold. This is an exciting and easy way to find gold nuggets as all of the paperwork and area location is done for you.

    It pays to ensure you understand all the clubs rules and requirements regardless of which club you join in what area. This applies to clubs around the world, not just those in the US. A gold prospecting club is an excellent resource for the new gold prospector hoping to make his or her fortune gold prospecting!

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Gold Prospecting Equipment

    To embark on the exciting adventure of gold prospecting, you do not need a lot of equipment, and you can get inexpensive gold prospecting equipment start off with. Naturally you can go all for broke and purchase heaps of gold mining equipment, including sophisticated gold metal detectors, gold metal sluice boxes and end up being a gold miner rather than a gold prospector.

    But to start with you only need a few simple gold prospecting tools which will not cost the earth and you can have heaps of fun panning for gold in small streams and fields.

    In fact many of the gold prospecting tools you can even find around the home. There are a few tools, you will need to buy, such as a good gold pan for example, but they are usually inexpensive.
  • Gold Pan. A light weight plastic pan with deep riffles or gravity traps to help to hold the gold is ideal. Try to avoid the steel or metal pans as they are heavier and harder to use and can also rust with the continual immersion in water. You can get a 10 or 12 inch black gold pan for around three to ten dollars. Color wise the pan should be black or as dark as you can get, as it is then easier to see gold flecks in it then. Use the time at the river beds for panning and you can use the bucket to take home any black sand concentrate to sift at home for gold.

  • A small pick and shovel. This is a good idea for digging out gold from crevices. The pick can be used to open the cracks wider so you can get inside them easier. You will be amazed how much gold one can find at the bottom of a small crevice or crack. Also small tools such as paint brush, screwdrivers, tablespoon, garden trowels and similar. Gold is heavier and denser than earth or rock and these tools will help to dig out gold from crevasses and small fissures.
  • A small bottle. This is for storing the gold you find. Just about any small bottle will be suitable provided it can be closed tightly and is water proof. Clear Plastic is ideal although glass will do also. Also 35 mm film containers work well although you cannot see inside them of course.

  • Various equipment such as a torch, spare batteries, a compass, plastic bags, a bucket to put all your gold prospecting equipment in, goggles to protect the eyes from rock when you are digging with the pick axe. A magnet also can help extract those tiny fleck of gold from sand.

  • Other optional items include a classifier or screen, sniffer bottle or suction tweezers. Sniffer bottles are also called snuffer bottles or sucker bottles, are handy for removing even very fine gold from your pan.
  • There are many other gold prospecting tools such as sluice boxes, miners moss and many others tools and equipment that can be used but the above is a good basic gold mining or gold prospecting tool kit to start with.

    Many gold prospectors have found thousands of dollars worth of gold nuggets with just the simplest of gold prospecting equipment, lots of patience and being thorough in their panning.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    Prospecting for Gold

    The easiest and simplest way prospecting for gold can be done is by panning for gold.

    Panning for gold is the cheapest way to find gold. Firstly you need to find the best location in the area you are prospecting. Pick a spot where the water is about 6 inches deep and flowing steadily. Just fast enough that you can see the pan in the water and can sit comfortably.

    The trick of panning for gold is in the dexterity in using the gold pan and keeping a sharp eye out. Patience is very important as you might spend a long time with no results, but when you do get results the satisfaction will be marvelous.

    First, fill the pan with about three quarters gravel. Then submerge it just under the water surface. Give the pan a few shakes from side to side but not to violently. You don’t want to wash material out of the pan just yet.

    Then change from the shaking motion to a circular motion swirling the material around in the pan in a circle. This will get most of the dirt and clay to dissolve in the water and make it easier to wash out of the pan. If you find any roots, moss or other debris just pick them over with your fingers to break up any lumps. Often gold can be found clinging to bits of moss and roots or twigs even in the dirt attached to them. So you want to gently dissolve the dirt and clean the debris you find.

    Just keep repeating this process until you have got all the rocks and dirt dissolved and up to the surface. The heavier concentrates should sink to the bottom. These will be where you will find the gold. This is really a gentle separation of heavy substances from the light. Gold is heavy and will sink to the bottom but as there might be very tiny particles of gold you do not want to lose them during the swirling. So be gentle and not too rough.

    Ok now you need to wash off the lighter sand and dirt and you do this by tilting the pan slightly away from you. Begin to swirl the water side by side with a slight forward tossing motion. Don’t worry you will get the hang of it. Doing this you can spill the lighter material over the side of the pan.

    You can level the pan from time to time and shaking it back and forth causing more lighter material to come to the surface which you can get rid of the same way. Just keep doing this and you will end up with about one or two handfuls of heavy material in the base of the pan. This material is generally called "black sand" or "concentrate". This is where you will find your gold.

    Now raise the pan out of the water leaving about an inch of water in the pan. Tilt the pan slightly and swirl it around in a circular motion checking for gold nuggets and pieces you can pick out by hand.

    Keep repeating this process. It is a critical part of the panning process. Here is where you will find your gold. Hopefully you will have a plastic pan (preferably black so any gold shows up. Use the magnet under the pan and move it in a circular motion with the pan tilted slightly. This will help to isolate gold from the black sand. You will need a strong magnet to reach through the plastic pan, especially if it is thick.

    If you do use a steel pan, not recommended as it is quite heavy and subject to rust as well as hindering the use of a magnet, then you will need to remove any oil from the pan before use. You can do this by burning the pan over the hot coals of a camp fire and heating it to a dull red. Then dunk it in water. This not only burns off any residue oil but will also give the pan a bluish hue making it easier to locate gold specks.

    Another useful tool is a small bottle of detergent. A couple of drops in the water helps to break up the surface tension f the water and speeds up the operation considerably. If you do this keep in mind the environment and use environmentally friendly detergent.

    Some people might tell you that there is no gold left and that it has all been panned out from the rivers and streams. This is not so. Winter rains and storms bring down more water and wash more gold down the river beds. It has been estimated that all the gold minded and discovered is only about 5 percent of that available so prospecting for gold is still a worthwhile activity not to mention a lot of fun.