How to Do Gold Mining in Rivers

By Sarah Silverman
gold, rivers
river image by narongkron from

Panning for gold in rivers can be a lucrative and fun hobby. The prospect of finding gold in rivers created the gold rush in California between the years 1848 and 1855. All river gold miners know that finding a sizable piece of gold is rare. Most miners find gold flakes, which can be sold to bulk gold buyers. The thrill of finding gold is usually what keeps river gold miners motivated. With some basic supplies, you can start panning for gold without taking a specialized training course.

Clip a screen cover over the top of the pan or bucket. The best screen to use has 1/4-inch holes and is also called a #4 screen. These screens are made especially for gold panning equipment and snap on without any tools. The screen will prevent large rocks from entering your pan.

Put on rubber boots and enter the river where you want to pan for gold. Make sure the water is flowing slowly. If the water is moving quickly, it will wash away the gold too quickly and you won't be able to pan any.

Take a pan or bucket and scrape it along the bottom of the river so that it's one-quarter full with rocks and sediment.

Unclip the screen from the pan or bucket and set it aside.

Crush up any large pieces of clay that you see using your fingers. If you don't crush the clay, the gold can stick to it and it can get washed out of the pan.

Hold the pan on an angle so the sediment moves to the front of the pan. Allow water to slowly enter the pan, and allow the sediment to begin washing away slowly. Continue doing this until you're left with fine black sand in the pan.

Inspect the black sand for specks of gold. Take a magnet and hold it under the pan and move it slowly in circular motions. This will cause the gold flakes to move so you'll be able to see them.

Take a snuffer bottle and place the tip of the nozzle over the flake of gold. Apply pressure to the bottle; this will create a vacuum and the gold will be sucked into the bottle.

Dump the remaining black dirt from the pan back into the river.

Repeat Steps 1 and 3 through 9 to find more gold.

About the Author

Based in West Windsor, N.J., Sarah Silverman has been writing computer- and electronics-related articles since 1990. Her articles have appeared in “Wired” and “Ericsson” magazines. She received the Kim Swiss Award in 2006. Silverman holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Rochester in New York.