FAQ #1: The Gold Lab Vortex

FAQ #1: The Gold Lab Vortex

1. Does the Gold Lab Vortex really work?

In a word:  YES.  The explanation below may be complex, but the process works great for separating lighter materials from gold.  The Gold Lab has perfected it, so that you can find your fine gold.

In fluid dynamics, a vortex is a region within a fluid where the flow is mostly a spinning motion about an imaginary axis, straight or curved. That motion pattern is called a vortical flow. (The original and most common plural of “vortex” is vortices, although vortexes is often used too.)

Vortices form in stirred fluids, including liquids, gases, and plasmas. Some common examples are smoke rings, the whirlpools often seen in the wake of boats and paddles, and the winds surrounding hurricanes, tornadoes and dust devils. Vortices form in the wake of airplanes and are prominent features of Jupiter’s atmosphere.

Vortices are a major component of turbulent flow. In the absence of external forces, viscous friction within the fluid tends to organize the flow into a collection of so-called irrotational vortices. Within such a vortex, the fluid’s velocity is greatest next to the imaginary axis, and decreases in inverse proportion to the distance from it. The vorticity (the curl of the fluid’s velocity) is very high in a core region surrounding the axis, and nearly zero in the rest of the vortex; while the pressure drops sharply as one approaches that region.

Once formed, vortices can move, stretch, twist, and interact in complex ways. A moving vortex carries with it some angular and linear momentum, energy, and mass. In a stationary vortex, the streamlines and pathlines are closed. In a moving or evolving vortex the streamlines and pathlines are usually spirals.

2. Where should I use the Gold Lab?

You can use it anywhere you need it – it only requires a 12 volt battery to work. I prefer to use it at home when I bring my concentrates back from the field. This way, I can process concentrates at my leisure (when in the field I prefer to spend as much time collecting concentrates).Like any piece of equipment, if you use the Gold Lab in the field, be sure to protect it when traveling – it’s durable, but needs protection from bouncing around in the back of a pickup on unpaved roads.

3. Why should I classify my materials (concentrates)?

If you are processing concentrates from a new location and don’t really know what size the gold will be, it’s best to size your concentrates and run them through the Gold Lab as follows;

  • 12 mesh size: Although gold at -12 is readily visible, separating at this size for processing through the Gold Lab will help you determine where to spend your time. If most of you gold is at this size, your job has been simplified considerably.
  • 30 mesh size: This is the first mesh size to run through the vortex bowl, and will help you determine the percentage of recoverable gold in your concentrates.
  • 50 mesh size: This is the second mesh size to run through the vortex bowl.  If you’re finding significant gold at this mesh size, you should generally classify your concentrates for the next step.
  • 100 mesh size: This is the last size, hopper wise, that the Gold Lab is setup to process. If you are still recovering gold at this size in quantity, you should process your concentrate collection (dredge, highbanker, sluice, etc.) at the slowest / least water volumes you can. Very fine gold should be processed as slowly as you can to allow it to settle out for collection. If your concentrates are loaded with this very fine size,  you know those that have been here before you were not able to recover this size and you may have hit the “Mother Lode” from a recovery standpoint.

4. Why should I clean my concentrates?

Cleaning your concentrates to remove the silts out of them will help you see what you are processing better. The gold lab vortex process still works, but if your concentrates are “dirty” they make your processing water murky so you can’t see the action of collecting your gold.
The Gold Lab
About The Author
I’m Dave Chiara, and it was only a few years ago that I picked up a gold pan and couldn’t put it down. I happily spent my weekends dredging, processing, panning, and sluicing. I can’t imagine a better way to spend your free time – out in nature with friends and family, and coming home with real gold!


  • By Andrea 07 Feb 2014

    Can the Gold Lab Vortex run off of regular household electricity or does it require the battery?

    • By Dave Chiara 08 Feb 2014

      Hi Andrea – thank you for your question (missed it in amongst several
      others). Sorry.

      To answer your question – Yes – but only with a converter (I use a 120v
      that converts the household current to 12volt). The lamp for the Gold
      Lab is 120v (halogen) and plugs into the house 120v plug-in.

      I do not sell the converter, but any auto supplier type have them (JC
      Whitney, etc.) and they work well. I’ve been using mine for 3-4 years
      now. In the videos, Steve has a few shots that actually show a unit (but
      he never really talks about it). If you want more details, more than
      happy to get / send along.

      The other thing – the Gold Lab and Thumper both work off of 12 volt and
      that’s what makes them very portable.

      Thanks for your inquiry.
      Best Regards
      Dave Chiara

  • By steve 07 Feb 2014

    Hi Dave, I am interested in processing tailings from a flotation mill that ran in the 1930 era. The assays run between .1 and .25 /ton of tailings. We actually ran 15000 tons or so through a cyanide plant back in the 80’s and had pretty good recovery but we sold the plant when gold tanked.Now it would be expensive to retool and obtain all the regulatory permission. Any sugeestions?

    • By Dave Chiara 07 Feb 2014

      Hi Steve

      You don’t say what rate of process you’re looking to do now. If you were processing in the 80’s and now it’s 30 years later – I suspect you’re my age (mid 60’s). So, I’m not supposing you’re going to doing a lot of hand work, but with smaller mechanical equipment to recover what you can. So, if you don’t want to go thru the permitting process again, you want to recover as much as you can. You also don’t say what size concentrates we’re dealing with here. If you we’re leaching, then I suspect you’re still trying to do lode recovery. If so, to process with Thumper and the Gold Lab it has to be free gold, otherwise the gravity process won’t work for you. If you’re trying to make a living (supplement the social security check) then small scale will probably work. For a small investment, you can purchase a Gold Lab and Thumper that will give you a reasonable return with gold bearing materials. Obviously, the higher per ton, the faster your return.
      Give me a return reply and we can further the dialog.

      Thanks for your inquiry.
      Best Regards

  • By Charles Palmer 12 Apr 2014

    Can you run 200 to 400 mesh material and still get the 10 to 20 micron gold particles?

    • By Dave Chiara 14 Apr 2014

      Hi Charles – Yes, you can run 200 – 400 mesh (the Gold Lab is set up for -100, but you can control the water speed and volume, which in turn will keep your finer sizes in the vortex bowl for recovery. Obviously, you will have to run your concentrates and determine what volume/speed you actually need for your materials. If you look at the Part 4 video – Steve talks about -50, -100 and finer material recovery. He claims to be able to measure down to 40 micron (but stops there with the disclaimer he can’t measure it any finer than that). I have accepted that, because I saw the materials (gold) he was indicating. Now, is the process totally “fool-proof”? It’s as good as the person running it. I’ll say it this way – if you run your concentrates slowly enough to keep the gold in the vortex bowl – Yes. If you’re impatient and want to hurry things along – then probably not (at least not full recovery).

      You could use acids or other chemicals, but most choose not to for health and environmental reasons. The Gold Lab will help you save your health because no chemicals are necessary – except H2O.

      Hope that explains to your satisfaction. If not, ask for more info – I just love talking about gold and recovery processes.

      Best Regards
      Dave Chiara

  • By Mark Stevens 30 Dec 2014

    Is it possible to order replacement parts? I purchased a used gold lab and one of the acrylic tubes is cracked. Also, the sticker in my bowl (water lever indicater) seems to be missing. Thanks for the help.

    Mark Stevens

    • By Dave Chiara 31 Dec 2014

      It is certainly possible to order replacement parts. Please email me at Dave@thegoldlab.com or call me directly at (971) 400-6867 with details as to what you’re looking for and we will get you sorted out.

      Best regards,
      Dave Chiara

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