Fine gold recovery is one of the most interesting aspects in placer gold prospecting. Fine gold can be just that, fine gold, very fine and it can be tricky to get the finest gold cleaned from your concentrates. Water by far is the best possible method for fine gold recovery next to the use of mercury or cyanide. For all practical purposes most recreational gold prospectors can use much safer methods like a spiral panner or a blue bowl. Often when you are panning out your concentrates from drywashing, dredging or even panning some fine gold and even flat flakes of gold never settle to the bottom of your gold pan. This is because the black sands hematite and magnetite are very dense and can prevent fine gold from reaching the bottom of your pan even with a lot of shaking and water suspension. Even expert gold panners can miss gold in a final concentrate clean up.
You have several choice like this very simple method in an article I wrote in 1999, Blacksand Blues. This is the most simple and easy clean up system you can imagine and it works pretty good too. But if you want to process a lot of concentrates go with a spiral panner or blue bowl. A spiral panner works on the principle of the Archimedes wheel in a sense. A blue bowl works on gravity, water suspension and weight. Often large amounts of fine gold are not present in areas with sizeable gold nuggets surprisingly. On the other hand large amounts of fine gold are often left in areas due to the time it takes to process, recovery and properly clean fine gold.
Most new prospectors start out finding fine gold and often struggle with proper recovery if not actually loosing gold because of improper recovery techniques. All of us have been in that position at one time or another, we were all new prospectors once. So don't let this discourage you, continue to prospect and always ask questions regarding gold placers and fine gold recovery. There are many seasoned, veteran prospectors that are willing to help you. Ask all the questions you like on our online gold prospecting forum, we look forward to seeing you there.