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Beginners Guide To The Gold Sluice Box
Have you ever tried gold panning?… Better if you have!!!
But have you ever wondered what gold sluicing and sluice boxes are? And, how can this simple and easy tool help make your gold panning experience better?
In this jam packed article I will answer this question and hopefully, answer a few more questions that you may not have thought of yet. I have written this article with the express purpose of helping any newbie gold prospector or those of you who want to learn about gold sluices.
What is Sluice?
The word ‘sluice’ means to regulate water or create an artificial aqueduct. It can also be described as the act of washing a place. Simply put, the use of sluices is a way of obstructing the flow of water through the act of washing away the material (dirt) passing through the sluice.
A sluice, therefore, is designed to clean the dirt to extract the gold from your chosen prospect.
What is a sluice box?
A sluice box is a general term used for a device that can be moved either in or out of a river to help a gold prospector process the gold from the dirt he/she puts through the sluice.
By the act of putting the dirt from your dig into the sluice, the gold prospector can clean the dirt out of the sluice so that the gold can be captured if it is there.
Some other names of sluice box are gold sluice, sluice and gold sluice box.
A sluice box is an open-ended long metal ¾ box (usually made of aluminum) or rigid plastic box placed in the river. A sluice box is a large piece of gutter pipe shaped like a ‘U’ with a wide opening at one end shaped like a flat funnel (where the dirt goes in) and then ending in a straight ‘U’ gutter or ‘U’. tray end’.
A sluice requires three (3) more components to function. First, the straight tray end of the sluice box has small ridges inside it called riffles.
Second, the next component is the matting material under the riffles that captures the gold for later processing, and the third component is the metal mesh that fits between the riffles and the matting.
1. Rifles – designed to obstruct the flow of water allowing gold to settle behind the riffles. (I will discuss rifles in another article at a later date). However, for the sake of ease of this introduction to sluices, for now all you need to know is that sluices need rifles to make a sluice box work.
2. Matting – Matting under the riffles is designed to help capture the gold as it falls over the riffles. It can be made from a variety of plastic, rubber or carpet type matting products.
3. Metal Mesh – Similar to the aluminum mesh of a screen door that holds the matting material under the riffles, but also provides further water disruption allowing gold to be captured.
Size and dimensions of sluice
The figures below are general approximations that relate only to manual or ‘in-river’ sluices that you will carry and place in the river flow.
Length – 1000 mm (40 inches)
Width – 250 mm wide (10 inches)
Height – Tray height 100 mm (4 inches) high
Types of sluices
There are also different categories of gold sluices and, each of these describes their different functions and actions, such as:
– Manual or (river) sluice
– Top bankers or ‘power sleuths’
So which gold sluice is for me?
So, which one do you choose? Well, there are several parts to this answer.
For novice gold prospectors, I would suggest using a manual or river sluice box to get used to the workings of gold sluices. They’re not really that hard, but setting them up to your liking and getting better gold recovery is all part of the gold potential learning experience.
For gold prospectors considering the latter type of power or ‘high-banker’ gold sluices, I would suggest you talk to a number of specialist prospecting clubs and gold prospecting supply stores before you either take this step as it involves more technical knowledge of the set. -Ups, pumps and various mechanisms used for these beasts. Also the cost of ‘high-banker’ is much higher as compared to manual gold sluice.
As just mentioned, the other part of choosing a sluice box is cost. A manual sluice can cost between $60 and up to $500 for a two-level system depending on its brand and set-up. With a ‘high-banker’ or power sluice box, the cost can range from about $800 to $3000.00 depending on the size of the system.
What are the advantages of each sluice type?
Manual Sluice – A light, usually easier to carry and drop into the river, takes up less space than a power sluice box.
Power Sluice – Ability to set-up away from the river, can set-up close to the dry river bottom source and treat the effluent without flowing into the river sluice.
What are the negatives of the sluice box type?
Manual sluices – processing the sluice requires carrying the dirt in the stream, making sure you adjust the gradient to get the right flow velocity to capture the gold, and moving the sluice if the sluice is too high. , and the height of the sluice would be on the river as opposed to loading in a two-tier system.
Power Sluice – Cost, Storage, Space and Technical Expertise.
What is the lesson of sluice boxes?
All the negatives are easily overcome with both these systems, and it is up to your personal skill, ability and determination as a gold prospector to help overcome them to give you a boost in your take-home gold.
That’s great! But where is the gold?
Process is always and end in any good system and this is no different than using a sluice. At the end of the sluicing operation, the cleaning process recovers the gold from the sluice box. The final product is then sealed in your pan of gold and hopefully reveals the spoils of your work.
I will expand on this Sluice article in a few more posts in the coming future. I hope you enjoyed this article and I look forward to helping you navigate your way to an extraordinary future in gold.
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