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Choosing a Gold Pan Before You Buy

We often get asked what pan we recommend. Obviously we carry what we believe to be the best options available, but there are literally tons on the market, and most of them can do the job. Which pan you choose is going to come down to a few factors, the first of which is size.

The most common size of gold pan in use today is 14 inches in diameter. Other common sizes range anywhere from the little 10" cleanup pans on up to the big 17" heavyweights, but again, the 14s are by far the most popular size among people who know their panning. The 10s are handy as safety pans or while screening and cleaning concentrates back in your garage, but they're pretty lousy to pan with, though the new 10" Archer Gold Pans look like they could do the job pretty well. The 17s are generally good pans, but they're just a bit too big. Loaded with material, they're a beast to lift, let alone spend a day panning with. They're also not likely to fit in your backpack, so best to start with a 14.

Next is material. We carry a variety of plastic pans, as well as one of the higher quality steel pans on the market. For most purposes and people, we recommend the plastic pans. Steel gold pans are great for those looking for a bit of historic authenticity or for something that doubles as cookware around camp, and they do work great (the US economy was fueled by steel pans), but the plastic pans are lighter in weight, still plenty tough enough for years of prospecting and have the undercut riffles along one edge that really help trap the gold. It's a matter of preference, but for everyday use, we suggest plastic.

Plastic gold pans come in a variety of colors. We carry blue, green and black, the most popular. Color isn't so much down to taste as it is to visibility of the gold in the bottom. A bright yellow pan isn't going to make your gold stand out very well. Gold shows up well against all three of the colors we carry, so any should serve you well.

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