DIY Gold Panning

EUREKA!!! Ready for some good old fashion gold panning? Ready to strike it rich? – hey, you never know!

If you live in an area that has a stream or river that had a gold rush in the past, it might be something you should consider. Learn gold panning and how to find gold with these homesteading steps.


How to Pan for Gold

Gold, one of life’s many luxuries. A precious earth metal, rich, luxurious, beautiful, but where does it come from? How do we mine for it anyways? Did you know you can find some of your very own gold! Gold panning is a thrilling pastime if you’d like to give it a try yourself. It will take some time, and it may be hard on the back, but it’s also a good excuse to get down and dirty, and maybe even strike a gold mine of your own!

Prospectors (miners) in the gold rush used gold pans as their tool. Buy yourself a gold pan, and you are ready to start gold panning!

A gold pan is basically a pan with layers to catch the gold flakes, They’re available for under $10 in stores and online.

Step 1

First of all you need to find yourself a stream or river. The stream has to have a current so that the gold would be able to move from its original crack, into the river. But, preferably the current should be slow. The water should be higher than 5 inches, or else the dirt will make the river dirty near the bottom, and it will be harder for you to see. Preferably the water should be clear, unless you’re really determined to gold pan in that spot. Bring along a chair into the water, or just sit on a fallen tree or rock.


Step 2

Fill your pan about 3/4 full with gravel and hopefully gold. Submerge the pan so that its under the surface of the water, and shake your pan a few times, back and forth, side to side. Make sure you don’t shake too hard, or the gravel will fall out.


Step 3

Now start shaking your pan in a gentle, circular motion. The gravel should now be circling in a circle inside your pan. If you spot any moss in your pan, chuck it away, after checking for gold stuck in the moss.

Pick out all the pebbles and larger rocks.

Repeat steps 2 and 3, a few times, so that the heavier material (such as gold!), sinks to the bottom.


Step 4

Hold your pan just under the water, and tilt it to the side, like it’s trying to catch the current. Shake the pan, as if you were flipping a pancake, using enough force to make the lighter gravel go out of the pan, but to leave the gold and black sand in. Place the pan just under the water, and shake it slowly back and forth. This will help the gold settle to the bottom of the pan. Repeat step 4 until only about 2 cups of gravel are left in the pan. Now only black sand and perhaps gold should be left in the pan.


Step 5

Take the pan out of the water, with about an inch of water left in the pan. Shake it in a circular motion, and check if any gold nuggets are in the pan. If there are gold nuggets, place them in a bottle. Repeat step 5, one more time, before you move into the next step.


Step 6

If you have a plastic pan, take the pan out of the water, leaving as less water as possible in the pan. Place a magnet underneath your plastic gold pan, and since black sand is magnetic, try using the magnet to separate the gold from black sand. Chuck the black sand away, and keep the gold (there will still be black sand mixed with the gold, but just leave it there). Now place the gold mixed with black sand into your bottle.

At first you may find gold panning difficult, but after lots of practice, you will be an expert prospector!

Now, are you ready to gold pan? Keep reading for some tips and tricks.


Tips, Tricks & Facts about Gold Panning

In the mid 1800s, California had its very own gold rush. Thousands of men (women weren’t allowed to because of laws – sigh) came and took lots of gold home.  But they didn’t take it all!

There is still plenty of gold left for you. It’s still stuck in the cracks of the earth, and might flow down the river, with the current, right up to the place where you pan. Geologists believe that we only found 20% of the gold in California, 80% is still lying around, waiting to be found! If you live in California, you are one lucky ducky!

Here are some popular areas you can pan for gold in California:

  • Auburn State Recreation Area
  • El Dorado National
  • Tahoo National Forest
  • Hangtowns Gold Bug Park and Mine
  • Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
  • Columbia State Historic Park
  • Bodie State Historic Park



Gold Panning in Georgia:

Many people aren’t aware that a gold rush happened in Georgia, 1829, earlier than the California gold rush. The eager prospectors approached the land that the Native Americans owned, making them move further west. Again, a lot of gold is still flying around the streams of Georgia, and you might get lucky and find some gold.

  • Crisson Gold Mine
  • Consolidated Gold Mine
  • Etowah River
  • Chattaboochee River

Gold Panning in Alaska:

Like the other states, Alaska discovered gold in the mid 1800s. The gold rush wasn’t as big as the California gold rush, but it still covers part of the Alaskan history. Because, then Alaska was legally owned by Russia, Russia thought that once everyone comes rushing to their state, it would be nearly impossible to regulate the state. So they sold it to the US. Again, there are lots of chances for gold to be found, go on and look!

  • Cow Creek Gold Mine
  • Caribou Creek Gold Mine

More Tips for Gold Panning:

Make sure that when you are shaking your pan, don’t let any gravel slip out of it, unless the step lets you do so. Even if you see only gravel in your pan, don’t give up, gold is usually at the bottom since it is the heaviest.

Find areas where water is clear. This makes it so much easier to see the gold.




So, do you feel like a real prospector now? Are you excited to get out there and start gold panning! Let us know how your own prospecting, or if you pick up any new tips & tricks on the way. We love hearing from you!

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