Tips for Spring Gold Panning in Montana
By Kamp Cook

Posted: May 11, 2013

With the price of gold at a all time high, the search for gold has become a lucratve way to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. For any one interested in starting a new hobby that could bring in some extra income, we have some begginers instructions on how to uncover some gold in Montana.

According to, here are 8 steps on finding gold

  1. Filling your gold pan

    You need some gold bearing material for this step. Either you find it in the field or you buy some from a gold panning supplier. Once you have your hopefully gold bearing material, fill your gold pan 2/4 to 3/4 to the top with the sand. A good idea is to pick out rocks before you start panning, just make sure the stones you are throwing away aren’t gold nuggets! An easy and cheap way to speed up the process is to buy a gold classifier for a couple of bucks, the Garrett Classifier is a good beginner choice.

  2. Finding the Ultimate Gold Panning Spot

    You should find a spot along the stream where the water flows just enough to carry the silt away from your gold pan. Try finding a place where you can sit, like a rock or a log. Squatting will get tiresome if you plan on panning for a longer while.

  3. Submerging and Crushing the Gold Bearing Material

    Submerge your pan under water and work the content with your hands, breaking it up and removing any roots or moss. Gold can hide in moss, so wash the moss above your gold pan before you throw it away. Don’t worry about loosing any gold in this step, remember that gold is heavy so it will sink to the bottom while the other stuff floats away.

  4. Shaking It Up

    With the gold pan just under the surface of the water, shake it left and right. This will break up the content even further and “liquify” the sand, dirt and water mix. By shaking you also the process of moving the gold towards the bottom and the lighter materials to the top.

  5. Tilt The Gold Pan

    Tilt the forward edge of your pan downward. If your pan has riffles, as most modern gold pans have, the riffles should be pointed forward. Now, with the forward edge tilted, repeat step 4 and shake the pan left and right. This will again make the gold move towards the bottom.

  6. Rinse & Repeat

    Now it’s time to get rid of the crap that we don’t want in our pan, which means everything that’s not gold. With the gold pan just below the surface of the water, use a back and forth or up and down movement that lets the water sweep away the lighter materials on top. The water should do all of the work in removing the non-gold stuff.

    Another way to get rid of the lighter materials is dipping your pan and lifting it up, while allowing the water to transport the lighter material out of the pan. Think of a wave crashing against the beach and how the water takes with it the top layer of sand, it’s the same principle we’re using here.

    You should re-shake your pan once in a while as you did in step 5, to ensure that the gold stays at the bottom. Now you basically just repeat step 5 and 6 until only the heaviest materials are left in your pan, which often are black sand and gold.

  7. Removing The Black Sand

    The most common type of black sand is magnetic, which makes for easy removal if you use a plastic gold pan. When you are down to black sand and hopefully some gold, take a magnet and carefully remove the black sand. Also make sure none of the gold gets trapped in the magnetic black sand when you remove it. One way to make sure no gold is thrown away is to drop the black sand into another plastic gold pan, swirl the stuff around and once again use the magnet to remove the black sand. You don’t necessarily need to use a magnet, you could pan all your way down to the gold. But a magnet will make the process easier for you.

  8. Picking Up The Gold

    At this point you mostly have gold in your pan if you’re lucky, along with any remaining black sand. Now you can either use a snuffer bottle or a tweezer to pick up the pieces of gold from your pan. If you don’t have a snuffer bottle or a tweezer, wet your finger with saliva and finger the gold. This will make the gold stick to your finger until it touches the water in your container. This method works, but it’s slower than using a snuffer bottle or tweezer.