How To Get Started with Minimal Expense
Our intent is to help the beginner and the weekender who holds a mining claim and a limited budget to recover gold.
Cost: about $10
5 to 10 gallons of water to pan concentrates in
Small plastic tub to pan into, save and reuse water
Crevicing tool (a bent screwdriver will work)
Trowel and whisk broom
Several 5-gallon buckets
Cost: about $40
Spiral gold wheel (preferably a Desert Fox)
We prefer to buy used equipment and tools. You could probably buy these four additional tools for $500 or so used, where that same equipment would cost well over $1000 new.
If you are new to prospecting, we recommend some practice using a lead test. Are you comfortable and skilled at dry panning? This is something you can practice in your back yard with a few pounds of dry sand and say 5 to 10 lead BB's flattened out in various shapes to resemble the gold you will recover.
I am not going to attempt to teach you panning techniques, there are plenty of how-to videos available. I will tell you this, before you start to dry pan toss 10 pieces of flattened lead into your pan and let them sink into the dry sand. Start panning, eliminating the waste sand slowly. If done correctly you will end up with maybe 2 tablespoons of material in the bottom of your tilted pan. Now, dump maybe a cup of water into the pan and gently swirl the pan. You should easily see the lead. Count them, if you have 9 that = 90% recovery. If you have less than 7 pieces of lead you need to practice a bit more.
I use this dry panning method for quick testing when I don't feel like hauling my bulky equipment to any site until I see gold. Lead has a specific gravity of 11+ and gold is 19+. Which means that if you are saving the lead you will be recovering the heavier gold.
When you are in the field testing an area or cleaning out a bedrock crevice or crack, always toss one piece of lead into your pan, just to make sure you are panning correctly. Do not pan too fast or sloppy. Dry panning allows you flexibility to quickly sample any desert wash, gulch, ridge lines, notches and slopes below existing veins. When you see gold in the pan, preferably from several nearby test sites; you have come to the time to haul in or purchase equipment.
Personal note: I pan very fast and I know I lose gold. Even if I only see a few specks of gold I test the surrounding area or wash. If I hit 3 out of 4 test pans, then we bring in the bigger equipment. Even after all these years of prospecting I still toss in at least one piece of lead.
Good luck and if you have any questions please contact us.
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We wish you a Merry Christmas & Prosperous New Year!
Christmas Claim Drawing
We are pleased to congratulate the winner of our December 2017 Claim Drawing:
Jandi & Gene from Normal, Illinois!