How to Pan for Gold on the Beach

Written by aminah paden
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How to Pan for Gold on the Beach
A gold prospector may pan for hours before recovering gold. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Finding placer gold on a beach is uncommon but not impossible. As gold prices continue to rise, prospectors are panning known gold-producing areas and attempting to locate new sites to pan for gold. Beaches can contain placer gold, but the beach has to be located in a gold-producing area. To find gold-producing areas, contact a local gold mining club. Clubs generally have information on the best places to look for gold in a particular area.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Rubber boots
  • Rubber gloves
  • Gold panning kit
  • Spade
  • Shovel

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  1. 1

    Locate a beach that has placer gold. Identify beaches close to mountains that are well-known for gold production. The water can carry gold from the mountain to the beach.

  2. 2

    Look for black sand. Black sand is a magnetic mix of minerals that has a sand-like quality. If black sand is on a beach, that may indicate the presence of placer gold. Do not confuse black sand with dirty sand. You can pick up black sand with a magnet.

  3. 3

    Purchase the proper equipment. Rubber boots and rubber gloves will protect a prospector's hands as he moves the water and sand. A gold-panning kit should include a pan, a classifier to remove bigger rocks and debris, a snuffer bottle and a clear vial to hold the gold. Purchase tweezers and a magnifying glass to look at and pick up smaller pieces of gold, if these are not included in the gold-panning kit. Procure a spade and shovel to help move sand and dirt.

  4. 4

    Clean equipment. Wash new gold pans with dish detergent and a scouring pad. New pans have oil on the pan from the manufacturing process. Clean the pans to ensure the oil will not cause the gold to float out of the pan.

  5. 5

    Pan for gold. Fill the pan with sand or dirt on the beach. Remove larger debris. Immerse the pan in water, shake it back and forth. Bring the pan to the top of the water and tilt it slightly so that the water washes over the dirt like a wave. Continue to tilt the pan, moving it back and forth. The dirt will wash out and the gold will sink to the bottom of the pan.

  6. 6

    Clean the gold. Pick up placer gold by sucking it out of the pan into the snuffer bottle. Make sure the snuffer bottle is filled partially with water. Transfer the gold to the clear vial.

Tips and warnings

  • Check state laws regarding gold panning. Obtain permission or permits to pan, if required.
  • Placer mining is the mining of alluvial deposits or gold that is loose and not consolidated in rock form. These deposits have generally been transported by water and deposited on land.

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