3 of The Biggest Mistakes Made When Panning For Gold

Gold panning is a fun and rewarding hobby that gives you the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the sunny warm weather mixed with beautiful scenery. In an age where most people stay cooped up inside the house or an office building staring at the computer screen all day, this type of change is more than welcomed. Of course you can also come away with some valuable gold nuggets and flakes if you know what you're doing. Unfortunately, though, most beginners fail to succeed at gold panning because they make one or more sever mistakes that dramatically reduces their chance of finding gold. To prevent this from happening to you, keep reading and we'll reveal 3 of the biggest mistakes made when panning for gold.

Gold Panning Equipment

Gold Panning Equipment

Like most things in life, the more you practice panning for gold, the better you will become at it. Even if you take the time to read and study up on the best techniques used to pan for gold, there are always unexpected things that are going to happen. When you're deep in the woods down by a stream or river, there's simply no way to prepare for every potential situation. With that said, learning the 3 biggest mistakes that gold panners make will set you miles ahead of the rest, increasing your chances of finding gold. If you're serious about gold panning and really want to come away with some flakes or even sizable nuggets, take a look these 3 mistakes listed below.

Mistake #1 - Not Bringing The Right Gear

Unless you've gone panning for gold before, you might assume the only thing necessary is a pan. While this is somewhat true, bringing other gear along with you is sure to make your trip easier and more enjoyable. Before you go hitting the road with just yourself and a pan, spend an hour or so getting together some gear. Trust me, this stuff will come in handy when you're panning for gold in a stream that's miles away from civilization.

Here's a short list gear you should bring along when you're panning for gold:

  • A suitable gold prospecting pan with a deep base and ridges on the side.
  • A strainer (AKA classifier) to help remove large rocks and other debris from your dirt.
  • Glass vials are useful for storing your gold finds in.
  • Pair of Tweezers for picking up and sorting small gold flakes.
  • Waterproof boots are essential to staying dry and comfortable.
  • Bring a bucket or folding camping chair in case there's not a perfectly-sized stump nearby to sit on.
  • Insect-repellent spray is essential anytime you're forced to go deep inside the woods to pan for gold.
  • Snacks and drinks
  • GPS device (optional)
100 Dollar Bills

100 Dollar Bills

Mistake #2 - Unrealistic Expectations

Wouldn't it be nice to come away with a handful of gold nuggets each and every time you went out panning for gold? For some reason, a lot of newcomers to the hobby are under the assumption that gold panning is some get-rich-quick method that can turn you into a millionaire overnight. Now don't get wrong - there have certainly been cases where average Joes found huge nuggets worth tens of thousands of dollars when panning for gold, but those instances are few and far between. Even if you're experienced and panning in the right locations, you're probably still only going to come away with a minimal amount of gold, but don't let that stop you from enjoying this hobby. With the price of gold at an all-time high and expected to rise, even small amounts of gold can add up to a nice side income.

The bottom line is that you shouldn't make unrealistic expectations when you're panning for gold. If you follow the gold panning techniques listed on our site and choose a proper location, then you'll probably come away with some gold in your pocket. However, it's doubtful that you'll be quitting your day job based on a day's worth of gold nuggets and flakes found in a stream. Keep your expectations realistic and only pan for gold if you truly enjoy being outdoors where there's beautiful scenery and warm sunshine.

Sifting Gold

Sifting Gold

Mistake #3 - Sifting Away Gold Flakes

A third mistake made when panning for gold is being too rough with your pan, which causes small flakes of gold to wash away in the water. While you may still have some of the larger flakes and nuggets left in your pan, the small ones will be carried away by the river's current. Over time, those small flakes begin to add up, causing you to have lost a significant portion of your valuable gold. So how are you supposed to avoid doing this?

In order to pan for gold, you must fill your pan up with dirt from the bottom of a river or stream (or sometimes on land) where you expect there to be gold. Once it's about 3/4 of the way full, you must completely submerge it underneath the water and shake it a bit to help remove the lighter materials. If you don't shake it hard enough, none of the dirt or rocks will escape. However, there's a fine line between shaking your pan too much and not shaking it enough. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to describe how much force is necessary when panning for gold, so you'll have to do some experiment.