Beginner’s Guide to Gold Prospecting

In a time of a global financial crisis, more and more people are looking for ways to make some extra money. Some ways have proven to be more efficient than others, although all of them have their own perks and benefits.

Perhaps one of the oldest and most popular ways of making money is through gold prospecting. Even though it’s not as easy as it may seem, if you do it right, you can end up with a pretty penny in your pocket. Here’s all you need to know to get started.

What Is Gold Prospecting?

picture of person with a gold prospecting mashine on the beach beside an ocean
source: Fer Troulik on Unsplash

In a nutshell, it’s the process of looking for gold in areas where it’s known to exist. The usual sites for prospecting are hills, mountains, and riverbanks since these are the areas where gold is normally buried.

While the money-making potential of gold prospecting is pretty high, some people decide to take it up as a hobby. After all, it can be a fun and rewarding experience to find something that’s so valuable and unique. Afterwards, you can keep the things you find as souvenirs or memorabilia.

Tools of the Trade

If you’re serious about taking up this activity, then you’re going to need the basic gold prospecting accessories. The things you’ll need will depend on the location you’re searching in as well as how much gold you’re hoping to find. But even so, there are several universal items that every gold prospector needs.

Prospecting Pan

picture of closeup of hands gold panning in a river
source: Closeup of hands gold panning in a river

This is basically a regular pan, but with a few tweaks. The bottom is usually concave and it has ridges along the sides. The purpose of these modifications is to help you sift through dirt and gravel so you can easily spot any yellowish nuggets.

Pans are generally used in shallow water since they aren’t the best at handling large amounts of debris or sediment. Thanks to their light build, they’re also easy to carry and won’t bulk up your backpack too much.

Metal Detector

These are pretty self-explanatory. Metal detectors are devices that help you find metal objects buried underground. They work by emitting electromagnetic fields that interact with the metals in the ground, which then creates a signal that’s detected by the machine.

While they’re not necessarily required for gold prospecting, they can definitely come in handy if you’re searching in an area with a lot of rocks or other obstacles. You won’t have to sift through as much material, and you’re more likely to find gold in a shorter amount of time.

Pick and Shovel

picture od two men walking in the mountain for gold prospecting with metal detectors and picks and shovels

This bundle can help you excavate any gold nuggets you find underground. Picks are great for breaking up rocks due to their sharp, pointy heads. Meanwhile, shovels can be used to scoop up dirt and gravel so you can sift through it more easily.

Both items can assist you in reaching gold that’s buried deeper underground in areas that are otherwise unreachable. You can also use them to dig small trenches or holes, which can be helpful when you’re using a metal detector.


Weighing your findings is just as important as finding them in the first place. After all, you’ll want to know how much gold you’ve managed to amass after all your hard work.

The scales designed for this purpose are usually pretty compact and have a high level of accuracy. Their round shape also makes them easy to store in your backpack without taking up too much space.

Sniffer Bottle

This bottle is designed to help you separate gold from other materials like sand and dirt. It works by taking a small sample of your findings and adding water to it. The heavier particles will sink to the bottom while the lighter ones float to the top.

Then, all you have to do is skim off the top layer until all you’re left with is the good goodness. It’s worth noting that this method isn’t foolproof, as there are some materials that have a similar density to gold. But it’s still a quick and easy way to screen your findings and get rid of the junk.

Possible Obstacles to Look Out For

picture of a men walking on a coast beside water with metal detector and shovel
source: Roger Starnes Sr on Unsplash

Even if you have the latest gold prospecting accessories, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have an easy time finding the precious metal. In fact, there are numerous bumps and hurdles you might face along the way.

Heavy debris is one such obstacle. This can include things like large rocks and roots that get in the way of your tools. If you’re using a pan, for example, then you’ll need to remove these obstacles so you can access the dirt and gravel beneath them.

Another potential obstacle is deep water. This is especially true if you’re not an experienced swimmer. Not only is it dangerous, but you also run the risk of losing any gold nuggets you find in the process.

Finally, you also need to be aware of the wildlife in the area. Snakes, spiders, and other creepy crawling critters can make gold prospecting a lot less fun. If you’re not comfortable with them, then it’s best to avoid areas where they’re known to live.