How to pan for Gold at home
This is a guide for how to pan for Gold at home, it is by no means definitive and wider reading is recommended (YouTuber Shane Klesh has an excellent video here). This is based on our own experiences and what we have found works well. Please ensure you check our Health and Safety pages before commencing any panning (click here).
Tools you may need:
- Gold Pan
- Water tray - a large roasting dish, or plastic tray.
- Pay dirt
- Tweezers to pick up small flakes.
- A pipette to pick up gold flour.
- Washer Bottle
- Magnet and a small bag to remove black sands.
- A small quantity of dish soap to act as a surfactant.
- A few bowls to tip the pay dirt in.
- A table spoon.
- Waterproof strong gloves to protect your hands.
- A cup for holding the black sands in.
- A kitchen sieve or selection of classifiers.
- A small dish to put your gold in.
- A vial to store you gold in.
- A small funnel to help get the gold into your vial.
1. Put the gloves on, this will protect your fingers from any sharp bits in the pay dirt and also prevent the oils from your hands from causing smaller gold pieces to float.
2. Take the water tray and fill with water, adding a small amount of dish soap. This will break the surface tension on the water and allow flakes and flour gold to easily sink to the bottom in your pan.
3. Take the pay dirt and carefully tip into a bowl. It may be dusty so make sure this is done in a well ventilated area.
4. Take the magnet and put it inside a small bag. This is so that you can easily separate the magnet from the black sands by removing it from the bag.
5. Using your bag with the magnet inside, whirl it carefully around and through the pay dirt in the bowl. The magnet will attract the black sands. We do this because blacks sand are of a similar density to gold and so by removing them now it makes gold panning easier later on!
6. Drop any black sands that are found into a cup. This is done easily by simply removing the magnet from the bag over the cup.
7. Pass the pay dirt through the sieve or classifiers to separate the dirt into classifications in different bowls.
8. Using a table spoon scoop a small amount of pay dirt and place it in your pan.
9. Gently tip your pan into the tray, so that the dirt stays in it and water flows over the dirt. Make sure the dirt is submerged in water.
10. Shake the pan from side to side to stratify the dirt. This will cause the heavier dirt (heavy's) to sink to the bottom, including any gold!
11. Gently place your pan, tilted at 45 degrees so that the lip of the pan is in the water, this will allow all the dirt to form on the bottom edge of the pan closest to the water.
12. Move your pan backwards and forwards so that the water laps over the dirt and washes the lighter dirt away. Keep repeating this step until you start to see gold.
13. Tip the pan so that it is now 45 degrees in the air, so that the edge that was in the water is now highest above the water.
14. Tap the top edge of your pan, and it will make the gold follow the taps.
15. Using a little bit of water in your pan swirl your pan gently from left to right, so a small wave passes over the dirt, and then from right to left. When you see the gold, use your fingers, tweezers or pipette to remove the gold from the pan.
16. Put the gold into your small dish.
17. When you have finished processing all of your dirt. Its is a good idea to pan your tailings (the dirt that is at the bottom of your water tray). As it is likely until you master your panning technique you will find more gold.
18. Lastly, dry out the gold that you have in your small dish. Then weigh it on your scales, so you know how much you recovered and calculate its value. Most placer gold can be sold for close to spot value. Nordic gold is worth about 90% of the spot price of copper.
19. Tip the gold into your vial for storage, using the funnel for guidance.