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Is Gold Panning Your Next Favorite Hobby?

Looking for a new hobby? Do you enjoy the outdoors and have good patience? Then panning for gold may be for you!

The monetary reward of finding your own gold is alluring to many, but the truth is, it probably isn’t the hobby that will make you rich… sorry. However, the feeling of owning gold that you discovered is pretty awesome. Even if you don’t come up with some of the precious metal, it is a fun way to get some fresh air with your family or on your own. Here are some of our tips for getting started.

1. Research locations

Gold is often found in streams, and these bodies of water support many different plants and animals. Be sure to find land that is open for recreational panning. The Washington Department of Natural Resources provides a map of locations that you can choose from. Check it out here

2. Types of Deposits

There are two types of gold deposits: lode and placer. Lode deposits consist of ore minerals and are often disseminated in rock. These require blasting, milling and chemical treatment. The type we’re after is Placer. Placer deposits occur when weathered materials are transported in a stream, the heavier materials, including gold, will settle into crevices.

3. Pyrite (Fool’s Gold)

The enemy of gold panners is a mineral called Pyrite. When you’re searching for the precious metal, these shining little minerals can start to increase your heart rate because it is very hard to distinguish from gold. The good news is, there are some simple tests you can do.

· The shape of pyrite is usually angular and somewhat jagged, whereas gold is slightly rounded.

· Pyrite has a brassy color and will shimmer in sunlight. Gold is more of a golden to yellow color and doesn’t reflect light as strongly.

· Pyrite reacts to white porcelain in a unique way. When it comes in contact with porcelain, it will leave a powdery residue that is a sort of greenish color. Gold will leave a faint yellow residue.

4. Equipment

The piece of gear that every prospector should have is a gold pan. These are very inexpensive and are effective at separating lighter, unwanted material from the gravel or dirt during the washing process. One of these will cost you less than $10 on Amazon.

A Snuffer Bottle is another handy tool that allows users to suck up small pieces of gold and separate it from lighter materials. These only cost a few dollars.

It is also smart to bring a small shovel to get a little deeper into the ground.

5. How to Pan for Gold

This guide provides a thorough explanation of the actual process.

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