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Recovery of fine floating gold

thumbs up sign So this is super awesome. I've been experimenting with the process and I think I've done it for micro fine gold. Listen carefully: wet your target dirt; next put in pan once nice and wet. Go ahead n fill it up with water about 3/4 of the way of your pan right. Shake up to disturb water -- basically going brown. Pour off "lightly", not too lightly, but don't go to bottom of pan, just go easy till you get to that point using plastic/glass container.

Wait 2 days-ish for the poured off water to settle all the way clear. Lightly pour that off; put in heat to wick the moisture faster. I literally used my oven on warm but crack it and the windows -- never know what's in your sulfides (better to be safe than sorry). Okay, when it dries, scrape bottom and go easy when you melt. I make mud pies because all I have is a hand torch lol. So take that roasted material, throw it back in your pan and check it out.

I'm pretty sure I actually just discovered a 100% safe method with no chemicals, only water. Call me crazy, lol, do it; took me 6 years to tinker around to see this and, wow, results are just wooowww.

Skye Lewis
- Rock Springs Wyoming
March 29, 2023

Q. Love this ... I wanna try.

I got confused after step of waiting for water to go clear. I bake it ok warm but ... THEN what?! Use a hand torch to cook gold out? I am really hopeful your steps will work and just need the specifics.

VaTeach Beacher
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
August 17, 2023

Ed. note: We've been building a legacy of aloha & camaraderie here that is incompatible with anonymity;
everyone is welcome to read anonymously, but is asked to only post with their real name :-)

! I am from the North East, in Lynn, Massachusetts and it seems I have only ever heard of Gold Prospectors like some weird mythology that Massachusetts has NO GOLD and I am not sure if this state wasn't prospected by many people because the place was already settled by territorial people who weren't going to let other people come in and prospect their territory. And those who did notoriously said there was ZERO GOLD and I think thats been ran with ...



I AM FAIRLY SURE I HAVE FOUND MULTIPLE DIFFERENT TYPES OF GOLD DEPOSITS a placer deposit which happens to be in my back yard --UNBELIEVABLE! And I believe I found, while crawling in the dark in the rain with a flashlight, a dissemination of gold or maybe its pyrite running through the barrier of the pegmatitic granite, and blue quartzite also running through and hiding in the biotite mica of some porphyry granite. It is in veinlets of the pegmatitic granite

I really need help figuring out what I have really found. Like I said, I am new to this but fell in love with Gold and Rocks in the process I have all the time in the world to make this my life's work doing this. I want to learn and ultimately think I may have tripped on the proverbial 35 pd gold nugget...

Oh the placer in my back yard which has stringer quartz veins running through rock seems to have an astonishing amount of flour gold ;at least it sure does look like it to me. Someone please help I will take photos of some things and post them, thanks.

Michael R [last name deleted]
New Prospector - Lynn, Massachusetts
September 3, 2023

⇩ Closely related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. I am retired and am a recreational prospector with a small (3 in.) suction dredge and a creek with a little gold worth messing with. Some of the gold is so fine it is floater and I figure there is maybe an economical way to capture this like a revolving screen barrel with an electrolysis setup of some kind to attract the fine gold and maybe adhere to the screen. If this is possible and economically feasible I would sure like to know...


Dan L [last name deleted for privacy due to age of posting]
- Menard, Texas

"Modern Gold Mining"
from Abe Books
or eBay
or Amazon
(affil links)

A. Dan:

I have done quite a bit of dredging with a 3 inch in the past also. I've never run into floating gold, but have run into flour gold. The stuff that is so fine you cannot pick it up or even see it but it is there. It is definitely worth recovering. But ... you will have to use mercury to extract it. My father in law had a 12 inch dredge that he would take his black sand and put it in a cement mixer with a quart of mercury. Mix all night, get the mercury/gold amalgam out and retort it down. This is an especially cautious area as the mercury will put off fumes and vapors that can really mess you up. On a small scale you can pan your black sand down to a hand full and add about a dime size amount of mercury in the pan. You will soon see it take on a gold color as you continue panning. Once you'er sure you have all the gold recovered, remove the mercury and put it in a small crucible. OUTSIDE and with a fan blowing the fumes away from you burn off the mercury from the gold. You will have to use a oxy-acetylene torch to do this. You will be left with a button of gold. My father in law used to pour the molten gold into a big container of water and would pull out a beautiful drawn out nugget that he would make into jewelry and sell. As I said before. This is not to play with and realize the hazards of mercury. You may want to just use the mercury to extract the gold and then let someone that is experienced in extracting it do that part of it. Good luck, keep your feet dry and don't let anyone throw a piece of shiny scrap brass in your sluice box! (not that I have done that to others) ;) Tom

Tom Haltmeyer
- Peoria, Arizona

A. One response was to burn off the mercury. This true but very dangerous as the fumes are deadly. They can cause loss of teeth, gum bleeding, hair and extremely intense headaches. If burning off mercury, place the amalgam on a shovel, cut a large potato in half length wise, gouge out a small area in the potatoes center. Place the potato over the material to be heated. Heat until all mercury is gone.
Place the potato in a small container of extremely cold water and most of the mercury will resolidify and come out of the potato for reuse. I used this method at Lake Isabell California back in the 70's when sluicing.

Best of Luck.

John Pavelka
- San Antonio, Texas

thumbsdownFor God's sake DO NOT use mercury to extract your gold. If you are lucky enough to not breathe any of the vapors, you are still dumping it to the atmosphere and your neighbors downwind will be breathing it. To use mercury nowadays in mining is highly irresponsible. Here is what you do:
Dissolve the fine gold into a chlorine bleach solution or into a solution of aqua regia and be sure to use eye, hand and lung protection and do it outdoors. Then raise the pH with lye (sodium hydroxide) and the metals will precipitate out of solution as hydroxides. These metal salts can then be placed in a covered crucible in a furnace and burned down to the metallic metal which will hopefully be mostly gold. I would post some links here on the exact procedures but links are not allowed. You can also trap the dissolved gold on activated charcoal and then burn off the charcoal.

Jeff Sargent
March 3, 2008
- San Marcos, Texas

Ed. note: Thanks Jeff. Links are not 'disallowed' but are discouraged. Nearly all links break in short order, whereas our goal since 1989 has been to build pages which will prove useful & informative for decades to come. Many links are sold to link farms (spam); worse, hackers buy up such links to put malware on, counting on readers trusting them based on them being on legitimate sites like ours. If you offer links, please summarize what the link says and give the title of the article so the posting retains value when the links break which they almost always do very quickly. Thanks!

A. To Jeff

The amount a mercury vapors that would be diluted in the air for said downwind neighbors is far less of an impact than the very harmful gasses given off with chlorine and lye. Not to mention that unless your neighbor is in a close proximity, most of the mercury will fall out of the air due to it molecular weight. The chemicals that most people use in their homes have far worse repercussions "According to California"

Kelly Trumble
March 18, 2008

Ed. note: As we we just finished warning readers, DON'T TRY TO GO TO THIS OLD LINK, it's now probably malware!

A. Take a potato, cut it in half. Dig out a dime-size hole in one half of the spud, put your dime-size blob of mercury in the hollow in the spud. Wrap spud in tinfoil. Bake spud under coals, downwind (just in case).
Open spud, collect gold. Put baked spud in your gold pan and pan out the mercury.
Do not eat the spud !

Chuck Carlson
- Boise, Idaho
March 11, 2009

A. Don't use a torch to burn off your mercury, use a retort they are simple to build and you only need something like 400 degrees. a retort is really a small still, the mercury will "boil" off then condense back and land it a bucket of water as clean mercury to be used again. Do the research, I tire of people harping about using mercury, and then suggest using wicked acids instead.

Harry Orr
- Quartzsite, Arizona
April 15, 2011

A. It was funny that I found what you wrote because I was looking for a solution to the exact same problem. I have an almost dry well on my property that I use for irrigation when watering by hand. 2 days ago I discovered black sand and fine gold in the bottom of the bucket it is so fine some of it floats. Being completely new to the subject I called a local gold mine and the man there told me there are plenty of different equipment out there but he recommended to let it dry and use series of different fine meshes to screen it through he also said it was very time consuming but usually worth it.

Marshall Wells
- Statesville, North Carolina

A. I know one of the two hard water/soft water will make gold more apt to float. (I think its the hard water)

I found this while trying to find a solution to the same file gold "flour gold" problem.
I saw a old timer on the GPAA tv show saying dish soap would make the surface tension break and cause the floating gold to sink : )
It wouldn't be a good idea out in a stream with a dredge, but he was running his operation at home reusing his water and bringing his material home to separate the gold

Jimmy Allen
- Lake Isabella, California

A. The gold floats because of the surface tension of the water. In a small recirculating operation you can use a Jet Dry or dish soap to break the surface tension and the gold will not float anymore. With a dredge as long as you don't bring the gold to the surface it shouldn't float. Maybe a deflector to keep it down in the sluice might help. Good luck

Joe Moniz

Bluebowl Concentrator
on eBay or

(as an Amazon Associate
& eBay Partner, earns from qualifying purchases)

A. I don't know if this will help your situation, but there is a product on the market for retrieving fine gold from black sand. It is called Blue Bowl Concentrator ⇨
It's made by: Pioneer Mining Supplies, Auburn, Ca

Paul J. LaMott
- Lindale, Texas

A. Don L -- you are looking for a fine gold recovery system ?

Buy you a 8 inch piece sch. 40 ,of pvc pipe and a glue on cap. Drill the cap and screw a water valve into it, this is so that a hose pipe can screw onto the valve. Buy some ribbed rubber matting to bed the full half 8 inch pipe. from the cap move down about 12 inches and cut the pipe in half long ways. Find a tripod , like the one's used in surveying, drill a hole for, and install, a carriage bolt in the pipe in the middle. use a wing nut to mount the pipe to the tripod. You can adjust the tripod to most any height or angle. You can run a hose pipe from the dredge to the pipe and the valve will adjust your flow. If you adjust the angle right you WILL recover all gold no matter how small. The 8 inch pipe gives you a good wide bed for gold to hangup. One person can run the pipe while the dredge is being used. You will love this fine gold recovery system. This is all I ever use with my 3 inch dredge.

Wallace Smith
- Cleveland, South Carolina
April 7, 2008

Q. I would like to know how long the 8" p.v.c. pipe should be to recover the fine gold you talked about.

Hank Langford
- Whitney, Texas

Q. Wallace,
I sure would like a much more detailed description of the 8 inch pipe fine gold recovery devise.
Bruce L

Bruce Leep
- Bozeman, Montana
April 24, 2009

A. Another method using mercury is to let the mercury pick up the fine gold in your pan, then pour the nickel size drop of mercury amalgam into a small depression created in an old t-shirt. Squeeze the mercury amalgam through the t-shirt and collect your now cleaned mercury in a glass or pyrex container. Cut the dirty brown spot out of the t-shirt as this is now your fine flour gold adhering to the
cotton t-shirt material. You can burn out the t-shirt
material to make your gold button or even use nitric acid solution to dissolve the cotton material and leave outside
in well vented area to evaporate leaving just the fine gold.

Bruce Evans
- El Paso, Texas
July 25, 2009

Q. I am new to gold panning and I'm trying to learn the best way to remove the gold from my black sand.
The bad news: I live in Arkansas and I'm learning that we don't have any real good (profitable) gold here. (or that's just what people are telling me.)
The good news: I do live near the Arkansas river and have found a HUGE deposit of black sand. At first I thought someone dumped out a truckload of charcoal, but it's black sand. I panned the stuff and I'm getting about 4 specks of gold per 1 cup of sand . A speck being about the size of a period. (.). Is that considered good or am I just waisting my time ? If I am on to something , what would be the best way do recover the gold?

Lloyd Clifton
hobbyist - Lavaca, Arkansas, USA

Q. On the floating gold problem, I prospect in the Llano Uplift region of Texas and recover quite a bit of floating gold from yellow clay deposits. This stuff is visible and even if you break the surface tension, it is still so light that it stays on the surface of the dirt in the pan or sluice.

Is there an electrostatic or chemical process, besides mercury, that can be used to attract and hold this stuff?

Jim Alford
- Ingram, Texas

A. I've been getting into flour gold and found that vinegar [adv: vinegar in bulk on eBay & Amazon] works well to make the gold drop over a short time frame.

Henry Williamson
- Beech Island, South Carolina

A. Classification is the key no matter what type of recovery system you use.

David Dodge
- Buena Vista, Colorado
January 25, 2008

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