Gold panning. The process of panning varies for the person doing the panning. The idea is to collect a sample of gravel from the stream bottom in your pan and to fill the pan nearly full of gravel and dirt. Then work over the contents of the pan and break up lumps of dirt and throw out the stones. After the debris is removed, take the pan by two hands and holding the pan level, give it a rotating motion rapidly alternating the direction, so as to agitate the contents and allow the heavier particles to settle to the bottom. Then move the hands until they are a little back of the middle of the pan. This action tips the pan away from the panner. With the pan in the inclined position, give it a circular , sideways, shaking motion that washes the contents from side to side. This brings the lighter material to the surface and washes it to the lip or front of the pan while the heavier gravel sinks to the bottom of the pan. Wash the lighter material out by the stream or push it out with your finger. Repeat this process until only the heavier material is left which consist of gold and the heavy minerals, called black sand. Save the deposit and dry it out. Remove some iron deposits by magnets. Pick out the fine gold specs with tweezers or flour gold may be collected by amalgamation. Areas of the stream that has black sand and heavy minerals is a good place to test the soil for gold placers.
Dry gold panning. Dry washing machines are designed today that will blow air through the deposit to accomplish the same thing that stream water does. Dry panning consists of putting gravel and stream deposits into a pan, then shaking the pan to bring the lumps and coarse stuff to the surface, which is discarded. Then pour the pan into another pan from about shoulder height allowing the lighter material to blow off, assuming there is a good wind blowing. Repeat this process. Then take the remains of the pan and toss it up into the wind to further remove the lighter particles until only the heavier black sand and gold deposits remain. Then use the same method as for stream panning to obtain the gold.
Gold Pan. Pans vary from size and materials. Sizes range from 10" to 18" with depths of 2-3". Materials range from iron pans to aluminum to plastic. Frying pans, pie plates, and similar shaped pans will work. A miners spoon is used to sample deposits during the panning process.
Pure gold is brass-yellow in color. Gold as recovered from placers are usually alloyed with more or less silver and sometimes copper. Silver will make the color lighter and a high silver content makes the gold silver-white with a yellow tint. Gold has a specific gravity of about 19.3. This heavy element weighs about 19 times as much as the same volume of water. Gold weighs about two and one-half times as much as the same volume of iron and about eight times as heavy as dry sand. Due to the high specific gravity of gold, panning for gold, the gold will settle to the bottom of the soil sample taken during the panning procedure. However, flakey, porous or flour gold tends to float on the water during the panning process. Gold sizes vary within the placers. Gold could range in size from nuggets that weigh several ounces or pounds to specks or flour or colors which is called fine gold or flour gold.