Panning for gold used to be quite a lucrative endeavor for the prospectors who moved out west. Now, it is uncommon for people to strike it rich when panning for gold, but that does not mean you can't still enjoy gold panning as a recreational hobby from time to time! With the tips below, you're more likely to have some success. (Just keep in mind success might be finding a few hundred dollars' worth of gold — not millions!)
1. Buy an Actual Pan
There are various instructions you can follow to make your own mechanism for panning gold, but if you don't get the size of the screens just right, your gold flecks may end up being washed right through it. It's much easier to just buy a gold pan from a gold panning equipment company. A decent one will only cost you $30 to $40. You'll spend almost that much buying supplies for a DIY pan!
2. Stick to Slow-Moving Streams
You may have seen pictures of videos of gold miners back in the day, panning in rushing rivers and streams. But rushing water moves gold out of the way quickly. You're more likely to have luck panning in a slow-moving stream. Look for a site just behind a large rock, as this site will be a little protected from the faster-moving waters. Ideally, you should be able to sit on the rock and search the water just downstream from it.
3. Remove Large Rocks and Minerals by Hand
After you fill your pan with rocks, reach in and remove any large rocks and mineral pieces by hand. These simply take up space in your pan, and they'll keep the water from working its magic as you sift through the pan for gold flecks. Also, remember that as you shake the pan in the water, gold will fall to the bottom because of its heavy weight. Removing other heavy pieces and stones from the pan beforehand will make any gold flecks more obvious.
4. Bring a Vial With You
This might seem obvious, but many hobbyist gold panners do forget to bring a vial or flask to hold any gold flakes they do find. You don't want to have to shove the flakes in your pockets; you could lose track of them. A dedicated flask ensures you don't lose your day's work on the way home. Gold panning equipment companies sell specialized flasks to suit this need.
For more information on recreational gold panning equipment, contact your local equipment suppliers.