If you are new to prospecting for gold you may be wondering what is a sluice box? Seasoned gold miners use terms like sluice box all the time but not everyone knows what a sluice box is and how it works.
Let us look at what a sluice box is.
Basically, the sluice box mimics a river bed. It acts like a river bed in that it washes gravel down stream. Because gold is extremely dense (heavy for its size) it always works its way down through all the other rocks to the bottom of the stream. Then it will work its way down into any tiny cracks and crevices in the stream floor. In a sluice box these man made crevices, or riffles as they called in a sluice, trap the gold so it can be recovered by the prospector.
Building a sluice box:
Building a sluice box is something that gold miners have done for many years. In the early days sluice boxes were built bigger and bigger as gold mining methods became more aggressive. It was not uncommon for entire creeks to be run through a sluice box for gold extraction. In some cases they would dam a river to run big water guns that washed the sides of valleys down into the river and through a large sluice box.
For a weekend prospector building a sluice box it is usually on a slightly different scale. The home handyman can build a wooden sluicebox complete with wooden riffles and take it out to a river and successfully mine for gold.
The issues with wooden sluice boxes are that they are heavy which doesn’t make them conducive to carrying far. They are also not as durable as other materials. And while they do recover gold, their riffles are not as efficient at capturing the fine gold.
For a more portable sluice box it would be wise to make a sluice box out of aluminium (aluminum for the American readers). Building a sluice box out of metal if you are able, or buying a ready made one, will allow you to use a better riffle system. Generally, the metal sluice boxes are easier to assemble and clean than a wooden system as well.
For the most portable sluice box, and most effective riffle design, you can not beat a plastic sluice box. The drop riffle design found in some plastic sluices have a much lower water turbulence factor which means more of the fine gold is trapped in the riffles. Being plastic they are also much lighter. But probably the biggest advantage, especially to a person new to operating sluice boxes, is that they are one piece. There are no riffles to try and insert correctly in the set up, and there is no miners moss (or carpet) needed under the riffles to try and trap the fine gold. Cleaning out the miners moss from the traditional sluice box is often where a lot of gold is accidentally lost.
If you are making plans to build a sluice box, or to try sluicing in a river near you, then I wish you all the best. There is nothing quite as exciting as cleaning out your sluice box for the first time to find gold glistening in the bottom of your pan. Visit our online sluice box shop to begin your adventure today.