Finding gold doesn’t take any particular kind of skill. You just need a pan, maybe a shovel, but most importantly, you need to know where to look. Don’t go trekking into the woods hoping to get lucky, though. Fortunately for you, there was a gold rush decades ago, so the best place to look is where many have already looked before.
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How Gold Forms in the Dirt
To put simply, gold deposits form inside rocks underground. The rocks inside the earth have been there for millions of years, but gold is considered to be younger. What aids gold in its development is the presence of hot water. Rocks are of course impermeable, but fractures from earthquakes make it possible. That’s where the hot water comes in. Faulting, or movement in the earth’s crust, makes it possible to form gold. It’s thousands of years of the same process and many other metal deposits are formed similarly.
Different Forms of Gold Found in Dirt
Gold can be extracted from caves, inside riverbeds, and maybe even in your backyard. But you’re not going to find gold bars; gold is never found in such a sleek state and natural gold is rarely made up of gold alone. Many pieces of jewelry less than twenty-four karats are more likely to contain a higher percentage of other alloys, like copper or silver. Karat is a measure of the amount of gold present in twenty-four parts. Twenty-four-karat gold is considered to be a hundred percent gold. These “impurities” in gold jewelry are often copper and silver. Essentially, they are born together over thousands of years of faulting and chemical reactions. Because of this, modern-day gold-digging has to be more meticulous. You’d have to be in the know with the gold excavating community, as well as have a helping hand from nature through erosion. After centuries of constant excavation of gold (and the resources around gold), it’s hardly ever the case that large nuggets are discovered. In reality, many experienced with gold excavation come up with a vial of what appears to be grains of sand.
How to Separate Gold From Dirt
You aren’t going to get lucky in finding gold in a shallow spot. You need to dig a little bit, particularly in areas with clay or quartz. This is where a shovel may come in handy. Clay can be found in riverbeds and may even contain gold in and around the clay. If you hit bedrock, you can work upstream. Some gold excavators set up a sluice, or makeshift pipelines, in the rivers to push rock and dirt through to spot any gold bits. It will move more quickly in streams than the rocks, thus the gold is caught in the sluice. You can then dump it into a catch pan to sort your findings. Swirl it around the pan a little, and the heavier stuff will sort out and sink to the bottom. Everything else will rise to the top. Keep up your sauteeing motion until everything (including rocks, lead, and trash) is compact at the bottom of your pan. Now, what matters most is the technique. You will want an extra catch pan to sink into the water. The downstream flow of a river is ideal. Dip your pan containing the minerals into the stream and begin performing a sort of back-and-forth motion. You can rock the pan as well, sort of like a wine sommelier. Be careful, though, because the pan is much wider and flatter than a wineglass. This method is used to further sort out what you’re seeing. Now I’m not going to lie, many gold hunters only find specks and flakes. If a single fleck is big enough to see, it’s probably worth a cent. Specks are small. So, in total, you may have a few dollars. This is all for an hour or two of digging. What you’re likely to find are some milligrams of gold. In certain areas, however, you may find a gram or two. One gram can be thirty to forty dollars, so a day’s work can yield sixty to eighty bucks. That could pay for labor costs, like the trip and supplies. The tools needed are unlikely to be paid for again. Most people already have a shovel laying around, as well as pans. At most, you’d probably pay for a sluice or two. This is what makes the hobby appealing: getting the motions down, lowered labor costs after your initial findings, and patience. If you’re persistent, you could find some nice side money.
So don’t quit your day job unless you’re a quick, experienced worker. Although, if you have an open weekend and enjoy this type of work, one may find this lucrative hobby to their liking. Again, where to look is key. There are resources out there that lead to the best spots to pan for gold. Or you can buy gold bearing paydirt online. Digging for gold in the hopes of fortune can be fun but can be potentially fulfilling and worthwhile in the process. Only if you’re persistent.