Step 5: Pan Out Your Paydirt and Recover the Gold
The basic idea is to agitate the material in the pan in water so as to stratify it with the heaviest stuff at the bottom and the lightest stuff at the top. Then you want to move the pan so that the water washes the lighter stuff on top out of the pan. Be careful not to pour material out of the pan, or you will lose gold. Periodically you will want to stop washing and re-stratify the material with more agitation. You want to make sure the gold is always at the bottom of the pan.
In the end, all you want left in the pan is heavy black sand and (hopefully) some gold. The second photo shows the results of panning down a nearly full pan of dirt and gravel to just black sand and gold. If this is what you see in the bottom of your gold pan, then you are doing it right.
The really tricky part of gold panning is separating the little bits and flakes of gold from the black sand. With a little practice, you will get the hang of swirling the black sand around the inside of the pan and concentrating the gold at the edge. If you are lucky, there will be a few bits of gold big enough to pick out with tweezers. I tweeze out these "pickers" and put them in my gold vial. The next photo shows a few "pickers" in my pan, along with a borderline nugget sized bit of gold. For the numerous smaller flakes of gold too tiny to pick out with tweezers, I use the sniffer bottle. Just suck up as many of the little shiny bits of gold as you can, while trying to get as little of the black sand as possible. Sometimes I use my finger to push the little bits of gold together into one spot, out of the bulk of the black sand mass, before sucking them up with the sniffer bottle.
There is still gold in that black sand. So don't discard it. After you get all the easy to remove gold out of it, dump the black sand in your concenrates pail. Then you are ready to load up the gold pan with more paydirt and pan some more.