A Short Primer on Black Sand Gold
Black Sand Does Not Guarantee Gold
I’ve seen and heard an awful lot of discussion about black sand, and what its presence really means to a prospector. For as long as there have been miners, there has been a love hate relationship with black sand. A tremendous amount of time and energy is invariably spent on doing everything possible to remove it from the heavy metals. Some black sands separate reasonably easily from the heavier metals, and some do not.
The presence of black sand in an area does not guarantee there is gold in the area. The presence of black sand simply means there is heavy mineralization in the area. But black sand can often be a solid clue as to where to start looking for gold.
Components of Black Sand
That said, what is black sand, and how can we best use it to our advantage?
The compound we generically call “black sand” is a composite of many heavy materials including hematite, magnatite, iron, iron pyrite, silvanites, lead carbonates, sphalerite, chromite, and sheelite, among others. There are many combinations of these, as well as many others in small amounts specific to a geographic area. They are all black or grey in color and so are known collectively as black sand.
Understanding Specific Gravity
Specific gravity is the wet weight relationship of everything to water, with water being zero. Everything, once wet and under water, has a different weight than it does in the air. This weight relationship with water we call specific gravity.
Black sand has a specific gravity of from 5:11, or 5 to 11 times the weight of water, depending on what is in the black sand. Gold, on the other hand, has a specific gravity of around 19; and platinum around 21. Gold and platinum can be two to three times the specific gravity of black sand, so you now understand how you would want to find black sand in order to find gold and other heavy metals.
Using Black Sand to Your Advantage
When you walk down a wash and notice streaks or low lying deposits of black sand, it generally means that the flow of water from a recent storm deposited these streaks there. This means that the heavier minerals (maybe gold) most likely followed the same path.
Placer mining depends on this relationship to separate lighter materials from heavier ones. Black sand is one of the materials that is heavier and in abundance, so a prospector for gold looks for the abundant black sand knowing that heavier metals will also run along with it in rivers and streams. Rivers and streams are the “water” part of separating black sand from lighter and heavier materials. Specific gravity helps us with the separation process by classifying the different sands and gravels in rivers and streams making it easier to find the black sand bands that are associated with gold and other heavy metals.
Use the Gold Lab & Thumper to Separate Black Sand from Gold
Both The Gold Lab and the Thumper were specifically developed to help separate black sands from the gold – exactly like explained above. By the process of elimination (by weight) you wash the lighter materials out, leaving the gold. The beauty of the Gold Lab is: you don’t have to pan it – water does the work for you.
In combination, they speed up the reduction/elimination process, resulting is less work and more profits.
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!