Beginning Gold Panning – Sorta

Last year, I decided it was time for me to get into gold panning. The last time I had done it was when my grandfather took me when I was about 8 years old. That was too many moons ago, so I thought I had remembered a lot more than I had!

I ordered my supplies from Digg It Prospecting Supply, LLC and William McNall was so helpful! He walked me through what I might need and how to use it. As helpful as he was, it took me (and a STRONG magnifying glass) for me to FINALLY figure out what real gold looked like!

But first, I placed my order. I ordered 2 12-inch Keene Super pans, a snuffer bottle, 2 1/2-ounce glass vials, and a 1/2-inch JOBE Stainless Steel Classifier. I had plenty of buckets, shovels, picks (yes, I even had a small hand pick, though I forgot to take this with me on my first foray to “the wilds”) so I thought I was set. I never knew this was only the beginning!

Well, my husband, son, dog and I headed for the hills! We found a secluded spot next to a creek, I grabbed all my tools (well, the ones I remembered to bring) and slid … I mean walked down to the creek. I found the spot that I thought was calling to me and I started digging. I put the dirt in the classifier that I had put on top of my bucket. Well, if I had found huge nuggets of gold, this would have been a fantastic idea but that’s not what happened. It was messy and I couldn’t be sure everything not going through didn’t have gold stuck to it, so I removed the classifier and just filled up the bucket. Once my bucket was full, that’s when the fun began.

I sat down and slowly tossed the rocks and debris back into the water. When I finished with that, I was left with small pebbles and sand. Can you guess this wasn’t the bucket I would find a huge nugget? By this time, I had whittled my haul down to about half the bucket. I was tired, the dog was driving me crazy (turns out our “hunting dog” doesn’t like water nor firearms so he was whining WAY too much) so I packed it up and brought it home with me.

This is when the fun truly began. In my back yard, my setup was grand! I had a large Tupperware tub filled with water on our patio table. I put one or two garden trowels worth of pebbles into the pan and started truly “gold panning”. That’s when I realized I really didn’t know what the heck I was doing! That’s when I found this video:

Gold Panning made easy. 40 + years experience

Thanks to this video, I started actually doing it right. Then I saw it. I just knew it was gold. I searched the web, trying to find a definitive way to tell if what I found was gold or not. Between all the different links I found, this one helped the most:

Gold vs. Iron Pyrite

Basically, iron pyrite (fool’s gold) actually “reflects” the sun or light source. Once you move it into the shade, it just looks like a rock or dirt. The other thing is you can “break” iron pyrite when you press on it. And the last thing? When you look at it really closely, iron pyrite is really jagged around the edges. So, did I find gold? Eventually. Out of the entire 5-gallon bucket, I got this much gold flake (what is gold flake? That’s what you find in sand. No nuggets for me this time!). Was it worth it? YES! It was frustrating and exciting and just so much fun (of course, I think my husband would only agree with my assessment if I HAD found a huge 5 pound chunk-o-gold):

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