Monday, October 25, 2010

Gold Panning - A Safer Way

Before all the large, hazardous machines were used to hunt for gold, a much safer technique was used. A technique that didn’t contaminate the water, poison men’s lungs with mercury, trap people miles underground, or destroy the land. This simple, old fashioned technique is called “gold panning”.  To pan for gold one uses a steel pan to sift through gravel, dirt and water to find the precious metal.  The best places for panning are in areas where lode deposits and erosions have occurred, like in streams, rivers, ravines, and lakes.

It is said that 80% of the gold in the Mother Lode (a 120 mile stretch of gold enriched land from Bear Valley to Auburn California) is still yet to be found, which makes for a great recreational and earth friendly outing!  There are several parks that are open to the public for gold panning. You never know what kind of gold nuggets you could walk away with.  So if you should have the urge to hunt for some treasure, or want some environmentally friendly gold jewelry, gold panning is an excellent choice. 
How To Pan For Gold:
-Darken a 12-15 inch steel pan over a burner to make the gold flecks more noticeable
-Keep the pan under water at all times, fill it almost full with the wet earth throwing out the large stones and break up the clumps of mud/clay
-With both hands, rotate the pan with a swirling motion. The heavier gold will sink to the bottom while the sand and gravel will wash out over the edges of the pan.
-Continue to raise and lower the lip of the pan with a swirling motion so the lighter material will wash away and all that will be left are the gold specks or nuggets.

Stacy Allen


3 comments:

  1. I'd expect a bit of research and fact checking from a university person before making statements like this: "Before all the large, hazardous machines were used to hunt for gold, a much safer technique was used. A technique that didn’t contaminate the water, poison men’s lungs with mercury, trap people miles underground, or destroy the land. " That's not the mining industry I have worked in for 30 years

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  2. Cleopatras Placer Mines were worked with pans and sluice boxes. Mercury was really introduced heavily during the Ca gold rush for Hydraulic mining. They would have a pool of mercury at the end of the sluice box on towards the end to catch the fines. This would of course flow into the rivers. This was mostly ended by the Sawyer act. People still use mercury to extract gold from the blacksand but its generally done safely. The Mercury is retorted. In some places they use mercury and it still gets into the environment by artisan miners. This is changing as chemical less methods are discovered... Small scale mining is more environmentally sound then mountain top mining...

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  3. really good ideas. thanks, i enjoyed reading this

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