How to Pan for Gold

To be the most suGold Panningccessful in your endeavor to pan for gold you will need some basic equipment and some practice. The good news is that the equipment is fairly easy to get. As for the practice that is up to you. Here is list of basic equipment for the job.


  • Gold Pan Black or Green Plastic doesn’t matter you just need something to contrast the color of gold.
  • Shovel
  • Magnet
  • Tweezers
  • Snuffer bottle
  • Small squeeze bottle of dish soap
  • Classifier in size 1/4 inch (4 mesh)
  • Small glass vial with lid

The idea of panning is to get the lightest material out of the pan while keeping the heaviest (GOLD) things inside. To do this you must create conditions inside the pan that will permit gravity to allow some objects to behave differently than others. To do this most effectively your goal is to place the solid objects in the pan in momentary suspension. Separation between the solid particles creates a brief opportunity for the heavier, denser things to slip past other particles and fall faster than the lighter things through the resistance of the water toward the gravitational pull exerted upon all of them.

Select a spot where the water is a minimum of six inches deep, flowing just fast enough to keep muddy water from impairing your vision of your pan and a place where you can sit down. A good tip is to use a 5 gallon bucket or gardening cushion to save your knees and posterior.

Place the classifier over the gold pan and shovel gravels into it washing off and discarding the large stones.

Washing off larger rocks and moss

1. Fill the pan 3/4 full of gravel, then submerge it deep enough so it is just under the surface of the water. Give the pan several vigorous shakes back and forth and from side to side, but not too vigorous as to wash material out of the pan. The idea is to make a slurry out of all of the material in the pan. Once loosened from the dirt/ore matrix the gold, having a specific gravity 19 times more dense than water, will easily settle to the bottom of the pan. Be sure to break up any lumps of clay or root balls where fine gold and gold dust often collects.

2. Change from the shaking motion to a gentle circular movement so the material starts revolving in a circle. This process will cause most of the dirt and clay to dissolve and wash out of the pan. Pick out the larger rocks after making sure that they are washed clean.

Repeat to get the smaller rock to the surface and to cause the heavier concentrates to settle.How to pan for gold

Washing off lighter sand and gravel

1. Hold the pan just under the water and tilt it slightly away from you. Begin to swirl the water from side to side, with a slight forward tossing motion. Take care, but with sufficient force to move the surface and the lighter gravel out over the edge of the pan.

2. Leveling the pan and shaking it or stratifying the material in the pan from time to time and shaking it back and forth will cause the light material to come to the surface and the gold and black sands to settle to the bottom.

Repeat process until there is only about one cup (or less) of heavier material left in your pan. This material is usually called black sand or concentrate.

Washing off black sand and concentrates

At this stage use a second pan or tub to pan into so I don’t accidentally lose any of the fine gold.

At this point, raise the pan completely out of the water, leaving about an inch of water in the pan.

Tilt the pan slightly towards you and swirl the water slowly in a circular motion to check the pan for nuggets and pieces that are easily picked out by hand.

Remember: try to only touch the gravel that you are removing so the oil from your hands doesn’t float the gold dust out of the pan.

Then submerge the pan again in water and repeat process 1. and 2. of Step B for final concentration. This is the most critical part of panning. Make sure this final process is accomplished with as much diligence as possible so you do not wash out the gold.

If you have a plastic pan, the use of a magnet can quickly aid in the separation of gold from the black magnetic sand concentrate. Apply the magnet to the bottom side of the pan and move it in a small circular motion with the pan slightly tilted. This will work well to isolate the gold from the black sand.

Pick the gold flakes out with your tweezers and put them in your small glass vial. Be careful because the oil from your hands can float your gold off. Don’t put your thumbs in the pan while panning. Use your tweezers to remove gold flakes!

To speed up the final steps, squeeze a couple of drops of the dish soap into the pan. This breaks the surface tension and keeps the gold from being easily washed out of the pan.

gold cover

For more tips and information check out the eBook on kindle!


Or check out the Podcast!!


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