When gold prices skyrocket, gold prospecting can be a lucrative hobby for individuals. However, buying modern equipment to efficiently find those elusive gold nuggets is expensive on the private level. Most of these pieces can be built out of household items inexpensively, much like the gold prospectors of old.
Just about any moderate-sized tub can be used to process gravel and extract gold. Technique is the most important part of panning for gold, which consists of letting the gold settle downward while at the same time shaking out the gravel and debris in the water you have collected. A pan with a metal mesh strainer on the bottom may be ideal for panning, so technique doesn't play as much importance. With the gold pan, water will drain, leaving only debris and bits of gold. A pan with a metal wire mesh bottom, formally used as a strainer, can be found at a kitchen supply store.
A sluice box is a metal box left in a stream where gold is present. Water flows through it over metal ridges and into traps. The idea is that the heavier gold pieces will sink to the bottom while debris will flow out with the water. Sluices require long metal areas for water to flow through so taking an old aluminum air conditioning duct, ranging from at least 4- to 6-feet-long is a good start. This duct should be cut in half so it is open at the top. Metal mesh should be added to the bottom of the duct in a couple places with a water tight metal pan beneath it. Metal ridges should be added between those sections of mesh. When inserted into the stream the water shouldn't be more then an inch deep as it flows along the surface of the sluice.
Gold rockers are helpful for sluices in areas further away from the creek stream, where water is more scarce. They rock back and forth, separating out the gold for prospectors. The rocker box is 3- to 4-feet long and fits atop the beginning of the sluice, mounted on semi-circular pieces of wood. It has a screen at the bottom and a small opening on the other end. Water is poured into the opening, and the weight and inertia make the box rock back and forth, a process that separates out the gold. This box can be constructed easily with materials from a hardware store and a simple amount of construction know how.