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Nineteenth century gold miners used wooden sluices that were at least 12 feet long, but modern gold prospectors primarily use sluice boxes made of plastic or metal which are typically 24, 36 or 48 inches long and 6 to 10 inches wide. The idea is to position a sluice box in a running stream so that the water does the work-- separating the dirt and rocks away from the gold. Since gold is heavy, it will stay in the bottom of the sluice, trapped in the miner's moss
A good rule of thumb is to set your sluice at a grade of one inch per foot of drop. At least start here, and adjust as needed. A steeper grade may result in all but the coarsest gold being carried away by the force of the water. The non-motorized sluices below are made by Jobe, Tee-Dee, Le Trap, RDH Prospecting, Gold Buddy and are all considered hand sluices. Click here for Power Sluices / Highbankers
Place the sluice in the flow of a stream or river so that the water enters the flared end and flows through the sluice. If the current is strong you may need to lay some stones against the edge of the sluice to keep it from washing away. The sluice should be set at a downhill angle that allows the material to briskly flow through the sluice. The higher the volume of water available, the shallower the angle will be. Shovel material into the sluice at the flared end as close to the end as possible so that the material is washed over the entire length of the sluice. Do not overload the sluice with material. Pace your shoveling so that the sluice has time to clear before you add more material. When you are ready to clean out the concentrates, remove the sluice from the water and tip it down into a bucket or tub. Wash as much material as possible out of the sluice into the tub and then remove the riffle tray and carpet and wash both of them out into the tub. Replace the carpet or miners moss and riffle tray into the sluice and you are ready to go again. The concentrates of heavier material and gold are now in the tub so that you can remove the gold from the concentrates with a gold pan or a Gold Cube or a spiral panning machine, or another clean up tool. You may find that it helps to screen the material before you put it into the sluice by first passing the material through a gold classifier. Pre-classified material will run through the sluice at a more uniform rate. With just a little practice, you'll be a pro at using a sluice in no time!
Sometimes placer gold comes out of a stream with a thin coating of mercury or other impurity attached to it, so it is necessary to clean your gold to bring out its natural luster and shine. The best way to clean gold is to place it in a small water-tight container about half full of water and add a bit of dishwashing liquid. Shake the container vigorously. How quickly you'll see a glittery shine often depends on how much gold is in the container. The more gold you clean at one time, the faster if shines up because of the friction caused by shaking. After you see your gold gleam, be sure to rinse with clean water. Do this several times to remove all traces of soap. Next, air dry your gold or heat it slowly outdoors in a metal pan. Enjoy that beautiful golden glow!
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