To pan for gold, you'll need a gold pan and a sluice box. You use a gold pan to swirl water slowly to separate gold from other heavy metals, while a sluice box helps you work more dirt as you pan for gold. Sluice boxes are made from a simple design that mimics how gold is trapped naturally in streams and rivers. Evenly spaced riffles inside the sluice box act as barriers to water flow and cause eddies. Heavy minerals mixed with gold drop into these eddies and stay behind the riffles. Buying a sluice box from a shop can be expensive, but you can build your own lightweight sluice box that is easy to use and pack on your next prospecting expedition.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 1.25 m corrugated plastic pipe with outside diameter of 10 cm
- Timber plank
- Skill saw or hand saw
- 3 cm screws
- Gold pan
Cut both seams on the side of your plastic pipe with your knife. Your pipe is now split in two. Set one half aside for a replacement part, and keep the other half for this project.
Use your skill saw or hand saw to cut your timber plank to 1.25 metres in length.
Lay the plank on a flat surface. Place your plastic pipe on top of the plank, making sure it is centred with the inside of the pipe facing up. Your pipe now looks like a half pipe sitting on the plank. Drill your first screw 1.25 cm from the edge of your pipe and plank. Continue drilling screws in the centre of the pipe every 30 cm until you reach the bottom edge. Drill another screw a 1.25 cm from the edge of the pipe and plank.
Practice with your homemade sluice box at home before you take it out in the field. The basic rule of elevation for sluice boxes is 15 cm of elevation for every 30 cm of length of the sluice box. Notice that gold is caught in the riffles in the corrugated pipe while other lighter material is washed out of the bottom.
Place the leftover heavy material mixed with gold from the sluice box into your gold pan. Put about 2.5 cm of water into your gold pan, and swirl it slowly in a counter-clockwise motion. Notice that the gold separates from the other heavy material that was caught in the riffles of your sluice box. Collect your gold.
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