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Drywashing for Desert Gold


What the heck is a drywasher? Is there really gold in the desert? Can I really make money gold prospecting?

Since you have found your way to this article, these are probably the kind of questions you have.

You probably caught a case of gold fever, and don’t have a clue where to start, right? Or maybe the high prices of gold got you interested in the idea of prospecting.

You might already know the ins and outs of traditional prospecting, but want to expand your gold search to the desert.

Whatever you cause, you have comr to the right place. In this article, I will teach you everything you need to know to get you started with desert prospecting.

The thought of gold probably stikes up images in your head of the California gold rush of the 1840’s.

Old men with beards kneeling in a creek with a pan full of dirt. But in the desert there is no water, so very different methods are used. This is where the drywasher comes in.

But what on earth is a drywasher? Well, simply put, it’s the desert prospectors best friend. It’s the most essential piece of equipment when removing gold from dry desert soil, utilizing air instead of water, of which there is very little in the desert.

Basically, there are three main parts to a drywasher. The hopper, the riffle board, and the bellows.

The process is very simple. Material is fed into the hopper, which is nothing more than a box or bag with a screen on top and a hole in the bottom to let the material pass through.

From there it falls onto the riffle board, which consists of a series of riffles and a frame resting on top of porous cloth suppoted by a screen and a smaller frame underneath.

During this process, a bellows will be pumping under the riffle board, and blowing away the lighter materials.

Some models use a blower instead of a bellows. Gold will most likely be the heaviest material in the mixture, and so will remain trapped behind the riffles for later extraction.

There are many options when it comes to aquiring your own drywasher. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, there are many websites on the internet and books that offer plans to build your own drywasher.

You can also buy one, but that’s not nearly as fun, and it’s more expensive. Also, if you join a prospecting club, they may let you borrow one of theirs.

Of course, we all know the right equipment wont do you one bit of good if you don’t know where to look.

Obviously, nobody wants to give away their spot, but if you happen to know a prospector, they will usually be more than willing to help you. They may even let you go with them on their next trip out to the desert!

The best thing you can do though, is to join a local club. I resisted at first because I wanted to do it myself, but I found out the hard way that it’s necessary.

You will get to learn from the old timers, and you get access to the club’s claims. It’s really the best way to go.

Now I’m sure your still wondering if prospecting is profitable. Well, it’s not that simple. It all depends on how much time you spend on it, and how successful you are.

When first starting out, you are probably not going to make any money, but with experience you will get better, and if you spend a lot of time prospecting, you could make some money, that is if you are willing to part with your gold.

Even with experience and time there are no guarantees, prospecting is a gamble. Who knows though, you just might stike it rich!