How to Make a Makeshift Gold Pan

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Gold pans are relatively simple and inexpensive pieces of equipment — you can purchase your own pan for about 12 dollars at most supply stores. However, when you’re in a pinch and don’t have an actual gold pan handy, it is beneficial to know how to make your own pan. Fortunately, making your own pan is a simple process that requires only a shallow dish — it's how you use the dish that will determine your success.

Look around your home, car or current surroundings for a shallow container. The ideal gold pan has a solid bottom to contain riverbed materials and has wide, sturdy edges to allow you to scoop up and shake riverbed materials.

Clean the container of any dirt or residue with a damp cloth.

Hold the container on either side and use the edge to scoop up a good quantity of riverbed materials. Tilt the pan forward in the water and allow the larger pieces to fall out until you are left with less and less material.


  • Your ability to sift materials determines the success of your gold pan. Whether you have a professional pan or a makeshift one, it’s how you use the pan that counts.


  • Your gold pan must be clean because oil can make gathering gold harder as the gold will slide more easily out of the tray and be harder to separate.