Before using Your Gold Pan
“SEASONING” THE PLASTIC GOLD PAN
It was common practice years ago and still is today, to “season” your steel or tin (depending on
what side of the equator you live on,) gold pan. Because oil and gold in a pan don’t get along well,
the most common procedure was to put your gold pan into a fire, which sort of blued the pan and
would burn off any oily contents on the pan. After the heat treatment, some would also roughen the
surface in different spots inside their pan in various ways.
Today the most popular gold pans are made of different types of plastic and just like the steel or
tin pans of old, plastic pans need to be seasoned. Most plastic pans are made using Injection
Molds. In this process, oil is used to release the pan from the mold. And to further add to the
plastic gold pan problem, the cheaper made plastic pans have oil as part of their material base,
which stay forever!
Considering that you have bought a quality product, there are various ways to season your plastic
pan. One approach is to take a strong detergent along with some gravel and water put into your
pan then shaking it vigorously around for about five minutes or so. After that I let the pan sit with the
detergent, gravel and water for a day or longer if needed. Usually this method will remove a good
portion of the oil coating. After a trip or two of panning, I find that the problem of oil coating is gone.
You can tell this by filling your pan with water, then, pour it out, watching the inside surface of your
pan for clinging bead droplets.
In a seasoned pan, the water should flow smoothly without forming droplets. On the Maverick
Finishing Pan, watch the water on the riffles for beading. When beading no longer happens on the
riffles, you are seasoned and good to go. This is also the best time to install a "Grit Strip" if you
use them. By having a Seasoned pan surface, the Grit Strip adheres much better and therefor will
give longer service.
Another approach that has some popularity is the use of alcohol. The method is to
swab the inside surface with alcohol. I have tried both of these methods together and did not
notice any significant improvement in doing this. In fact, I have found that it is still usually
necessary to spend a trip or two down at your favorite panning spot to season your pan completely
even after using any of the above methods.
One last word. Do not try to sand paper or scour the surface of your plastic pan with sand
paper or steel wool in an attempt to rid it of the oil. In some pans, like the Maverick Finishing
Pan, it can hinder the action of the pan by doing this. Good luck panning in the gold fields and may
you always find gold in your pan. Cheers.
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