Is Gold Panning Worth It?


Gold panning isn’t as simple as buying a shovel and heading out into the woods. As we’ve discussed before, getting started requires that you know how to identify rocks and determine their value.

Pexels Photo 6974347, Treasure Valley Metal Detecting Club

Even if you do everything right, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll come home with gold. Still, most people consider gold panning fun enough to be worth the effort. After all, what are you going to do when you’re not out panning for gold?

Is Gold Panning Worth It?

If you’re interested in starting a hobby, gold panning could be it. You’ll find gold in many different places, including streams, rivers, lakes, hillsides, and even underground. So, while other hobbies may require specific equipment, gold panning doesn’t necessarily need anything special.

You can start on a pretty low budget. All you need is a bucket, some pans, a rocker (to shake the dirt from the pans), water, a flashlight, and maybe a shovel. If you don’t have one already, you should also consider investing in a metal detector or gold panner to focus on only finding gold without worrying about identifying it first.

Once you’ve got all those items together, here’s where things get tricky. The real test of your skill is determining whether a particular rock is worth mining. The answer to this question depends largely on your own experience and knowledge. However, there are some general guidelines that you can follow to help you decide.

One thing to keep in mind with gold panning is that the more expensive the gold, the less likely it is to be found. This is especially true for small nuggets under 4 millimeters in size. While there is a chance that you’ll pull out a few large pieces, the odds of doing so aren’t very high. What about larger nuggets — those over 4mm in size? Well, they’re somewhat more common but still rare.

Of course, the best way to tell if a rock contains gold is to try it. If you’re confident that the rock is gold-bearing, you can dig it out of the ground, melt it down and see if you can spot any gold particles. If the rock is too big to go through the hole, you can break it into smaller pieces and then try using a finer screen again.

Another trick you can use is putting the rock in a pan of water. If the rock has gold, it will sink to the bottom along with any gold particles. If you look closely, you’ll probably notice that the rock looks like a piece of gravel. That means the rock is made mostly of silica, an oxide. When gold is exposed to oxygen, it reacts with oxygen to form the metallic element called gold. Hence, the gold particles are usually trapped inside the rock material.

Pexels Photo 6808948, Treasure Valley Metal Detecting Club

You Can Earn Decent Money From Gold Panning

While gold panning is certainly a lot of fun, you’ll unlikely earn much money unless you’re extremely good at finding gold. Even then, you might not earn much more than a few hundred dollars monthly.

You can expect to spend a lot of time on the activity. Most people who enjoy gold panning do so because they love being outside and want to learn something new. After all, there are plenty of other outdoor activities that you could do instead of spending time looking for gold.

But even if you don’t make any money off of gold panning, you’ll still be able to justify the cost by enjoying the process. It’s also easy enough that you could take your kids along with you, and you can introduce them to nature at the same time.

The Gold Panning Entry Cost Is Low

When you start thinking about gold panning, it seems like a great way to spend a day hiking around the countryside. However, you’ll quickly discover that gold panning isn’t cheap.

For starters, you should consider the cost of getting started with this hobby. Buying the necessary tools will set you back $50 to $100 or more. Then, you’ll need to buy food and drink to sustain yourself while you work. The minimum amount of supplies that you’ll need each day is about $25.

Finally, since you won’t earn any money while learning the ropes, you’ll need to pay for gas and tolls to travel between locations. This can add up to several hundred dollars every trip.

After adding these costs, you’ll probably be spending between $1,000 and $2,000 on a single gold panning trip. And that doesn’t include the cost of your vehicle, typically over $10,000.

This Activity Could Present Some Dangers

As you might imagine, gold panning can lead to danger if you’re careless. For instance, you could easily hurt yourself by hitting your head on a rock while panning for gold. Or perhaps you’ll slip on a wet surface while walking through puddles.

On top of that, you could damage your property if you happen to mine on private land. In addition, you should never leave your equipment unattended while panning for gold. This is particularly important if you plan to stay overnight since you’ll need to protect your vehicle from thieves.

Finally, remember that gold panning is illegal in many states, so be careful to follow local laws. Many areas have laws against mining for gold, though the penalties are generally minor. Other state governments only allow gold panning for recreational purposes.

Gold Panning Is Not Worth In These Cases

At the end of the day, gold panning is worth the effort if you enjoy the outdoors and want to learn something new. It’s also a great way to spend a weekend with friends and family. However, gold panning isn’t a good idea if you plan to make a career. Yes, the sport is enjoyable, but it’s not profitable enough to justify the initial investment.

Still, if you’re ready to give gold panning a try, be sure to check out our articles on how to become a better gold panner and how to choose the right type of gold pan.

Jason Smith

I am a Marine who now works as a Web Developer. I have five US States left to visit. I like whiskey, wine, and coffee, soaking in hot springs or in my hot tub.

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