9 Essential Gold Panning Tools – Find More Gold!

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Cory Haasnoot

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Panning for gold can be a very lucrative endeavor. With the right tools, you can find that gold much easier saving you time and the possibility of finding more of it!

So, what tools do you need for gold panning? You need the following tools when you are panning for gold:

  • Gold Pan
  • Spaded Shovel
  • Classifier
  • Pickaxe or Mattock
  • Jewelers Loupe
  • Tweezers
  • Snuffer Bottle
  • Storage Container
  • Seat

Gold prospecting is an exciting hobby that almost anyone can do and with these tools, you could find yourself some big paydays ahead. If you are like me I like any pass time that I can enjoy and potentially make money from. And panning for gold provides both of those luxuries!

Essential Gold Panning Tools

Here are the tools that you will need to make a day of panning for gold successful.

1. Gold Pan

Black mining pans


The first and most important piece of equipment you will need when panning for gold is a gold pan. These pans come in various sizes and colors. And choosing the right size is probably one of the most important factors when choosing a gold pan.

  • Size and Weight

The size of the pan should be just big enough for you personally because if it’s too big or too small you will have a hard time handling the pan. To pick the right size gold pan for you, the pan should be about the length of your forearm and your fingers should be able to reach so you can grasp the pan with your fingers.

Make sure the pan is sturdy but not heavy because it will get heavy enough once you start adding sand, gravel, and water to it. Gold pans come in plastic and steel with plastic being lightweight but some prospectors like the traditional steel.

The advantage of a plastic pan is that plastic doesn’t interfere when you are using magnets.

  • Shape

There are many shapes gold pans come in with round being the most popular choice. Pans also come in – square, hexagonal, triangular and some are a mix of round and rectangular. I prefer round but it all comes down to personal preference. The shape doesn’t really matter as long as it does its job and you are comfortable handling the pan.

  • Color

Color is another choice you will have to make when choosing a gold pan. They come in a few different colors like black, green, terra cotta, blue and most recently hot pink. Green seems to be the most common color that people purchase but as long as you can see the gold against the color of the pan then color doesn’t really matter.

Gold pans are used twice in the prospecting process. They are used at the beginning when you are first determining if there is gold in the area and then they are used at the end of the process once gravel and sand have been sent through the sluice or high banks prospecting equipment.

When you are just starting out prospecting for gold you probably won’t have these bigger pieces of equipment so your gold pan will be the main piece of equipment that you will be using but you can still find gold with a pan and these other non-expensive tools that I will be explaining further.

2. Spaded Shovel

Shovel digging mud.

A small spaded shovel or hand scoop is an important piece of equipment to have because you need something to shovel the sand, gravel, and sediments into your gold pan. 

Make sure the shovel is sturdy and easy to handle with one hand because a lot of the time you will have the gold pan in one arm and you will be shoveling with the other arm. You should be able to get your hand around the handle easily so make sure you try handling the shovel before you purchase one.

The shovel should have a rounded or sharp point to it so you can dig down into the sand and sediments easier. A shovel that folds in half is essential for easy portability because you will be moving to different areas of the river or creek you are prospecting at.

3. Classifier

The third gold panning tool you will want to have is called a classifier. What is a classifier in gold prospecting? A classifier is basically a sift or metal mesh screen used to separate the bigger rocks and debris before you start panning for gold.

Classifiers can fit over a 5-gallon bucket and most gold pans so that you can separate the larger objects from the smaller objects. This makes life much easier than just dumping everything into your gold pan.

So it’s imperative that you get yourself a strong sturdy classifier to do the dirty work for you before you start panning for gold.

4. Pickaxe or Mattock

Pick ax

A pickaxe and mattock sometimes are referred to as one and the same types of tools but they are different tools.

The pickaxe head has a sharp pick on one end and a small chisel on the other end. The mattock has a wide blade on one end of the head and an ax or pick-like extension on the other end. They are similar but slightly different tools.

Essentially both of these tools do the same thing just in different ways. They are used for breaking apart larger rocks and rocky soil so you can more effectively pan for gold. They provide for more force then you could get with a shovel.

5. Jewelers Loupe

A jewelers loupe will help you determine if those tiny specks of sediment at the bottom of your pan are gold or not. When looking for gold you want to find as much as you can so a jewelers loupe will help you get all that you can.

6. Tweezers

Something you might overlook is bringing along a good pair of tweezers so that you can pick up the smaller pieces of gold from your pan. Tweezer sure makes life much easier when trying to sort through the small gold pieces.

7. Snuffer Bottle

A snuffer bottle can be used for manually vacuuming the fine gold dust that you will likely run across when you are prospecting. You know that the fine gold particles that accumulate at the bottom of the pan. Using a snuffer bottle is another way to get the most gold you can from your finds.

8. Storage Container

Of course, you are going to need a secure storage container so that you can safely take any of your gold finds home with you. It’s a good idea to have a small vile that you can use for the gold dust that you might find and then a larger container for the gold nuggets.

9. Seat

You don’t want to be spending all day standing and bending over when you are mining for gold so a seat is essential for your comfort and save yourself from breaking your back. You could use a 5-gallon bucket or a small step stool will do. Something close to the ground is best.

You Are Now Prepared

If you bring all 9 of these gold panning tools with you are your next prospecting expedition you will be well prepared for a successful day of gold panning. These are simple tools but they will save you tons of time and give you the best chance at finding as much gold as you can.

Metal detectors can detect gold so you might want to add a metal detector to your gold prospecting equipment. It’s not necessary for panning for gold but any extra gold detecting device couldn’t hurt!

Once you have been gold panning for a while you might want to look into getting bigger prospecting equipment like dredgers, power sluices, and high bankers. The bigger equipment is expensive but it helps you prospect for gold on a grander scale.

If you plan on prospecting for gold as a living then it would be a must that you get larger equipment. But if you are panning for gold as a hobby then the 9 tools that I explained in this article will do the job and you will find gold if you look in the right places.

I would like to thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you about any gold you have found while out prospecting and any other tools besides the ones that I have introduced here that you use.  As always Happy Treasure Hunting.

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Author: Cory Haasnoot

Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.

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