Home / Setting up Sluices





  Basic equipment use and setup isn't hard unless you don't have an instruction manual or someone to show you how.  All wet recovery equipment is based on the principals of the gold pan.  A sluice is simply a long gold pan with all of the same principals of specific gravity, water speed and angle.  Each larger piece of equipment that employs a sluice box will be set with similar instructions, so when you have learned how to set up a hand sluice, you will have the basics of how to set up ALL wet recovery sluice boxes. 


One of the first pieces of equipment most people buy after they have their gold pan is a hand sluice box.  Now, setting up a hand sluice box correctly will mean the difference between keeping gold and running it off the end of the sluice.  Water speed is one of the most important things to get right when using any sluice box.  Every other water type of equipment uses a sluice box in one way or another, and learning how a sluice box works is important to every other piece of prospecting equipment.  A dredge, highbanker or dry washer will be set up in the environment they work the best in, so these instructions will deal specifically with the hand sluice.


After you have done your testing to find a likely spot to find gold, you will need to find a spot in the water that is running enough water to move material down the sluice box.  Not too fast, or you will be chasing the sluice box down the river!  Not too slow, or you will be building rock diversions to get more water into the sluice box.  (When water is limited, you can do this).  A place between two large boulders can work, or along a river or creek's edge will do nicely most of the time.  How to tell if your water is too fast or too slow?  That will take a bit of practice, but really isn't too hard to learn very quickly when you get the sluice box in the water.  BEFORE you put the sluice box in the water, find a large rock that can be placed across the box to help weight it down so the water does not carry it away. 


The slope of the sluice box is the next thing you will need to adjust.  Experts recommend beginning with a slope of 1 inch of drop (pitch angle) for each foot the box is long.  This can be adjusted to help the speed of the water going down the sluice box, but worry about that later and get your basic setup done first.  Place the sluice box into the water, adjust it so that you have the proper slope and place the large rock across the top of the box.  Next you will want to throw a couple of handfuls of material into the sluice box to see how fast the material runs through the box.  If it is not moving too well, you will need to increase the  

amount of water going down the box by slightly increasing the slope of the box or increasing the amount of water coming into the box.  We will usually try increasing the angle first, as more water can be hard to find or can bring water depth into play.  Likewise, if the material moves too quickly and does not catch black sand and the pebbles are zipping along, you will need to decrease the amount of water coming into the box, or decrease the slope of the box.  There again, we play with the slope first and amount of water second.  The ideal is when the material classifies down the box keeping the black sand and some blonde sand, but eliminating most rocks and sand.  Flat rocks will hang up in the box no mater what the water speed, so watch the rounded ones more.  Getting this right will take some practice, but there is a lot of room for error.  You can adjust the box any time you want to achieve the desired catching ability.


Another item to consider is depth of the water in the box.  This needs to be watched as too much water running into the box can increase the depth of water in the box.  Also placing the sluice box too deeply in the water to begin with will do the same thing.  You want a depth where you can see the water slightly jumping over the riffles.  It should not be a smooth stream of water, but hopping some.  That's about it.  Practice makes perfect, and always test the material running off the end of the box with your gold pan to see if you are losing much gold.  If you are, readjust your sluice box by decreasing the slope or slowing down the water so that you keep more material. 



Equipment needed to run your sluice box:  shovel,  hand spade, 2 buckets (one can always be a seat),#2 shovel, classifier, leather gloves, gold pan, vial, pipette or sucker bottle, first aid kit, lunch, drinking water.


One last thought about using your hand sluice.  Resist feeding too much material into the sluice and overloading it.  If you do not allow the water to classify the material by completely mixing together, the heavier material will run out of the box and your gold with it.  Specific gravity works if you give it a chance to do the work, and this is true with any type of water prospecting equipment you may use.


Now go out there and FIND SOME GOLD! 

Copyright 2005-2013  Shirley Weilnau all rights reserved


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