Metal vs. Plastic Gold Pans

Best Gold Pan

There are a whole lot of options out there today when it comes to gold prospecting equipment. There are new designs and different tools that are coming out every year, designed to help miners find more and more gold. Getting the best equipment for the job will help you find as much gold as possible.

One tool that EVERY prospector needs is a basic gold pan. Gold pans are used to sample areas and do the final cleanup of your concentrates to capture all of the gold you have mined throughout the day. No matter the size of your mining operation, a gold pan is a critical piece of equipment that everyone should have.



Gold pans have come a long way compared to what the early miners used during the original gold rushes. Often these early gold pans were nothing more than modified wash pans and other assorted metal bins that could be used. Of course the basic natural of gold remains the same, so proper technique allowed for gold dust and nuggets to collect at the bottom and be retained by the miners. Actual gold pans specifically designed for prospecting worked a bit better, and were more easily manageable. Countless amounts of gold were found with the old metal gold pans during the early gold rushes in the U.S.

Today, prospectors have the benefit of modern plastic gold pans that work excellent for retaining even the finest particles of placer gold. They are lightweight and made of high impact plastics that are difficult to break. The old-timers would have loved to have the variety of options that we have today.

Plastic pans have a few features that most miners prefer compared to metal pans. They are lightweight and durable for one thing. You don’t have to worry about them rusting on you, and they are manufactured with riffles that prevent fine gold from escaping. They also come in a variety of colors which helps make those little specks of gold stand out.

Also Read: Gold Panning Tips

There are still some metal gold pans out there, and some people still prefer them. One reason is nostalgia; they like to use the same types of mining equipment that the early gold miners used. They still work well for capturing gold, but they do require a little bit more maintenance. You need to “season” them before they can be used. This removes the factory grease which will cause gold to be lost.

Once seasoned, it is necessary to care for your metal gold pan. After each use, be sure to dry them off to prevent rusting while they are in storage. Metal pans also do not generally have the built in riffles like modern plastic gold pans have, so they can be a bit trickier to master.

Both types of gold pans will work just fine for capturing gold. The most important thing is to maintain proper panning technique and take your time to make sure that you don’t lose any gold.

Next: How to Use a Sluice Box


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