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Gold Farming In Real Life (Part 1)

Tired of gold farmers in MMORPGs?  Strike back by becoming a gold farmer in real life.  Learn the tricks of the trade and find out why this is a hobby you should invest in.  Gold prospecting is something everybody can afford to get into and could pay dividends.  There aren’t many hobbies out there where you can get back more money than you put into it, but gold prospecting is one of them. 

A person can invest a lot and think of this as more than just a hobby and still have fun with it, or they can acquire a minimal amount of gear and carry it with them for weekend trips, camping trips, etc.  Most of the states in the US have places with gold, some more than others.  The idea isn’t to look at this as a way to get rich, but as a way to further enrich other things you do like camping with something fun and potentially rewarding. 

Proline 14 Inch Gold PanThe gold pan is a very basic tool and a must have for anybody interested in getting into gold prospecting.  There are many variations today to the gold pan but the basic round pan with ridges is still the way to go.  The gold pan is also a necessary tool for those using more advanced tools like a sluice box, a high banker or a dredge.  Along with the gold pan there are some other simple inexpensive tools to help get the gold out of the pan. 

Gold MagnetThe gold magnet is somewhat misleading as it isn’t a magnet for gold but rather a magnet to remove the “black sand” which is really specks of magnetite and hematite.  Magnetite and hematite are both crystalline oxides of iron and have a density greater than the other material you’ll be able to wash out of your gold pan.  The chemical makeup of magnetite is Fe3O4 and hematite is Fe2O3 which makes them able to be picked up with a magnet.  With the gold magnet you can extract the “black sand” from the gold after you’ve used your panning techniques to remove the normal sand, dirt and clay from your pan.  Some people don’t bother with filtering through all of the black sand and just grab what gold they can easily find.

Snuffer BottleA snuffer bottle is a small flexible plastic bottle used to suck up and gold from your pan and serves as a container to keep it in.  Snuffer bottles can also be used to squirt water into your pan to move black sand away from your gold.  The bottle won’t break when dropped and will float if dropped into water which allows for easy recovery. 

For more precise methods of extracting small gold specks there are long metal tweezers and plastic suction tweezers which for the small cost are worth having in your arsenal.

Proline Sluice Box 50 InchesBeyond the basic items above, there are more involved methods for producing more gold out of the area you’re in that don’t require any motorized devices.  The sluice box while more expensive than a full set of gold panning gear makes the process of prospecting for gold much more involved and more of a group project.  A sluice box is a long metal device placed strategically in a stream that you then run your “pay dirt” through to more easily filter out unwanted material.  A sluice box greatly decreases the amount of time and effort you spend panning worthless dirt and allows you to spend more time panning “black sand” and gold. The sluice box has a wide mouth to channel more water into it to help remove the bigger rocks and gravel from your “pay dirt”.  Inside the box itself are riffles and some kind of matting material to help the gold settle and stay in your sluice box.  You can replace the matting with better material such as miner’s moss made by 3M which is blue endless loops of rubber filaments, perfect for catching and holding the denser parts of the “pay dirt”.  Miner’s moss is sold in lengths of 36 inches and you choose the width.  In the case of the sluice box in the picture, the width is 10 inches, so if you wanted miner’s moss for it you would order a quantity of 10.  Watch this video of a sluice box in action to get an idea for how it works.

Garrett ClassifierWhen gathering your “pay dirt” you can use a classifier to help sort out all of the larger debris.  The classifier can be placed over a standard 5 gallon bucket that you then shovel loads of debris into and shake to separate the smaller debris you want into the bucket while leaving the larger debris on top.  Once done filtering, empty the classifier and repeat until you have the bucket filled with as much “pay dirt” as you can carry back to your sluice box.  You can still use a classifier without using a sluice box of course and place it right over your gold pan.

After you run your “pay dirt” through the sluice box or filter it straight into your gold pan, you need to understand how gold panning works.  As mentioned earlier the density of magnetite and hematite is greater than that of the rest of the debris you are panning with the exception of gold.  Gold panning uses gravity and a technique known as liquefaction.  Using a simple back and forth motion with your gold pan filled with debris and water the debris starts to look more like a liquid in the way it moves.  As the debris settles, the more dense material filters to the bottom while the less dense floats to the top.  It is at this point that you want to move that floating debris to the edge of the gold pan so that it can flow out of the pan while your more dense “black sand” and gold remain at the bottom.  The back and forth motion needs to stay small and more like a vibration as you don’t want to wash away the “black sand” and gold you’re trying to make settle at the bottom.  When you’ve mastered your technique of using liquefaction and gravity to filter out the unwanted and less dense debris out of your pan, you can then use your gold magnet, tweezers and snuffer bottles that we talked about earlier.

To be continued…