Picture of PULLING  IRON  from  GOLD BEACH
Iron MD.jpg
Hard to believe this pristine beach has tons of iron in the sand ! !

Gold Beach in Oregon had a lot more Iron in the sand 20 years ago.

This instructable shows you how to separate and collect the Gold Beach Iron using a simple Magnet.


Picture of TOOL YOU NEED
Harbor Freight sells a magnetic pick-up and drop tool for under $10 dollars.

A dry soda bottle makes a convenient container for holding the iron fillings.

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Horsehockey3 years ago
A great Instructable!! Really amazing the ammount of quality knowledge in the original and also the comments. Almost like taking a short course in physics, chemistry, and electronics!! When panning for gold the old timers used Mercury to collect the specks of Gold. Gold would stick to the mercury but not the sand. I have a device that I picked up at my deceased cousins home, that he used to vaporize the mercury and condense it back for re-use. Evidently the gold would be in the bottom of the tightly sealed metal container. You have written an outstanding article. Really hope you write some more like this one.
iceng (author)  Horsehockey3 years ago
Thanks for your comment :-)

The "iron" is actually magnetite sand, a magnetic iron ore usually known as lodestone. In my opinion, this actually makes it much more interesting (i.e. dangerous)! Magnetite is the most potent oxide for the creation of thermite powder, which is a mixture of magnetite, metal powder, and any fuel. When burning, the temperature can exceed 2760° C, and is extremely useful for melting things such as titanium.
iceng (author)  The Manic Puppeteer4 months ago

Looked up Ti as a week paramagnetic element but doubt my coke bottle contains any titanium because I just went and used that same NIB magnet but could not pick up a titanium weld rod There was NO feeble lift attempt..

Well, the only real way to find out is to forge it, or to use x-ray spectroscopy; titanium in this form is an alloy with the magnetite, so it is much more magnetic. However, I think most beaches have a relatively low titanium content, the ones near San Francisco (particularly Ocean Beach) are unusually high. Interestingly enough, byproducts of this reaction include garnet, sapphire, and maybe fluorite, due to the chemical composition of the impurities. Theo Gray of periodictable.com and Popular Science's Gray Matter has extensive documentation on this subject. I actually may be writing a scientific paper on it sometime, it's quite interesting.

Incidentally, some of the magnetite (such as beaches near my place of residence, San Francisco) contains titanium to begin with, and all that is required is fuel to extract copious quantities of fairly pure titanium. I've found that the Exploratorium (also in San Francisco) occasionally will host events for members where people can collect and burn thermite to forge titanium. It's quite fun, when not exceedingly dangerous!
iceng (author)  The Manic Puppeteer4 months ago

Should the Exploratorium do that again to your knowledge Please let me know so I can join in order to see.

Apparently they're having an event on May 16th, though it seems to be focusing on the magnetic properties of the ore as opposed to the explosive. Still quite fun! The Exploratorium is great.
aws12 years ago
I never realised ironsand was so widespread. Check out the beach shown here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwinz/3403795666/. No need for a magnet here - just dig it up with your hand. Just don't try walking on it in bare feet on a sunny day!

The black sand on this beach is titanomagnetite and it is the titanium content that makes it impractical to reduce in a conventional arc furnace. Due to this problem our local steel mill is the only one in the world to manufacture iron and steel using ironsand as the primary raw material. The unique process is outliined here for those interested: http://www.nzsteel.co.nz/about-new-zealand-steel/operations-/glenbrook-steel-site.
iceng (author)  aws12 years ago
Thanks for the reference.

Another thing about your beautiful land that I like and respect,  is ;
NZ refuses harbor rights to nuclear powered war ships.

finton aws12 years ago
Ha! You beat me to it by a few months aws1. I was going to mention Piha Beach in West Auckland, NZ, that was so black when we were kids (40 years ago) you literally burned your feet if you stood on it for more than a few seconds. We had to race down from the dunes as far as we could, dig rapidly into the cooler sand and let our feet cool off before making another rapid dash to the next digging spot or the surf. The iron sand used to wash up the coast from the mouth of the Waikato River, but with all the iron sand extraction by Glenbrook, Piha is now just another brown sand beach - makes it more usable I suppose!
iceng (author)  finton2 years ago
Aaah, Good memories running barefoot on beach sands.
ianmcmill2 years ago
Wow this is awesome. I definitly have to try this !!
iceng (author)  ianmcmill2 years ago
Not all beaches have iron in quantity..
Do you reside near a coastal area ?

Thanks for the pointer to laser glasses !

Erasmo1233 years ago
Very nice idea! Had no clue there was so many iron on the beach.

Perhaps a funnel would make the loading easier?
iceng (author)  Erasmo1233 years ago
I agree.....
But who brings a funnel on holiday or holiweek.

Who brings a magnetic collection device on holiday? Seems if one thinks that far ahead, the same person could take a funnel... :^)
iceng (author)  camelsamba3 years ago
Ha ha, when I plan for a trip and bring a Geiger counter, all my electronics,
and grand children who thinks of a funnel :-)

Erasmo123 iceng3 years ago
You could cut open a bottle, you should be able to find a few of those on the beach.
iceng (author)  Erasmo1233 years ago
Actually did try that.......

Now imagine me holding my iPhone, the magnetic pickup tool and
a half bottle funnel but no tape to hold them secure together at the time.

All the while the collection bottle is secured in a depth of the sand there
is a pic of that..

Anyway there is enough Iron in the beach to collect a bottle full in an
afternoon just using the scrape method of placing filings in a small hole :-)

zacker iceng3 years ago
what do you do with the iron you collect? use it for casting or something?
iceng (author)  zacker3 years ago
A future ible will look into smelting an object....

kbs22443 years ago
Those of us that make metal chips often put a paper towel over the magnet before picking up the chips.
It just makes it easier to get them off the magnet.

And as a BTW the fact that iron is everywhere is why it replaced bronze.
The truning point is when they learned to make a fire hot enough to work it.

The steps from stone to copper to bronze to iron were steps in heat production.
In ancient Egypt there wasn't enough wood for massive charcoal production so they hadn't iron neither
iceng (author)  kbs22443 years ago
Great insight into fire.

aristide2023 years ago
As a general facti iron in this case indicates magnetite and related minerals. When sand has a great concentration of iron is what is called black sand . Iron is heavier than quartz which is the usual prevaling compoanent of most sands.Gold is heavier than magnetite. If you find any kind of iron accumulation or black sand such as layers thet could be possible gold contaiining area . Gold and iron accumulate when quartz is washed away or left back by wuater streams. In this case you'll need somekind of gold pan and some practice. I have made a gold pan from a black PVC antifreeze jug. You'll more easily see yellow golld in a black or blue background . Obviously gold is not atracted by magnets bur magnetite sand is .. A magnet may help to check for iron concentraton . In elder times in europe n black sand was a side producct in gold panning and used in drieing ink in Europe and of course as paan iron ore.
Not always black colour is indicative of higher iron content. As an example, black sands in Hawaii are known to contain much less or almost no iron/magnetite at all in comparison with ordinary sand box sand. A good article on magnetite extraction from sand is here, from Popular Science.
You are completely right, volcanic black sands are lighter and different and black color of sand in this case is deeper , like kina ink I mean . I think it is mostly volcanic glass . Magnetite black sand seems to me to be a little more gray than a volcanic sand. Usually magnetite is associated with other magnetic minerals, some of them arent' black. Anyway a magnet will check out any doubt on the composition of sand and presence of heavy iron minerals. For a demonstration of ,heavy , gold associated presence you have to pan the sand unless there are nuggets.... May be there may be presence of non magnetic but heavy garnet which is dark red. Best is using a ferrite magnet (easily provided from many electric engines, loudspeakers ecc) wich is much more rust resistant and cheaper than neodiìmium magnets ( you find them in old discarted PC hard disks for free). If you're going to use a neodimium magnet I think you'd better paint it . I always used ferrite magnets for that purpose, they are not so strong but strength of neodimium magnets may be even incredibly excessive to manage.
iceng (author)  koroliov3 years ago
Killer reference, wel worth reading :¬)

iceng (author)  aristide2023 years ago
Very interesting, most compounds of iron like the oxide are not as
magneticly inclined, as any one who has tried to pull iron out of
a PCB copper etch replacement solution rather then pumping
the ferric chloride around.

I would be most interested in a description of the chemical
composition of magnetite and its related minerals..

Wazzupdoc iceng3 years ago
Check the CRC Hanbook of Chemistry and Physics (tm). I wouldn't be without it as a reference in my library. I donated a copy to my town's library. Check there. The Merck Index (tm) is also useful.
iceng (author)  Wazzupdoc3 years ago
Lets see my CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (tm). is in the basement
or the attic before understanding comes....

as an aside, there is no shortage of gold, it's everywhere. Gold is even located in seawater. The issue then is to collect enough of it at a reasonable expenditure of time, money and, effort.

just so you know
capt.tagon3 years ago
I've been using magnets to extract magnetite from sediment ever since I was in grade school. Cow magnets, black sand and a sheet of paper are a great play toy for learning about magnetic fields.

Southern Oregon is an odd region whose mountains were raised from the sea floor and twisted 90 degrees from their original orientation. Curry County upriver to the east of Grants Pass and south to the Smith River is made up of Serpentine, a rock that's extremely high in Magnesium and Manganese content, good at growing trees and not much else.

It can be quite beautiful when wet, weathers quite easily and is some of the worst landslide material known when we get hit with a couple Pineapple expresses off the Pacific that saturate it beyond being able to hold together. 1100 feet of it slid into the Rogue across from my Grandfather's cabin down below Agness. The scar is visible to this day. You also don't want to fall on any freshly fractured surface, it breaks into thin blades, brittle and sharp, with no durability so it's useless for making arrowheads.

The region is also formed of lots of basalt with huge granitic plutons pushed up through it. Where there isn't rock, there's decomposed granite which is cement like in its composition, easily eroded into rather nasty terrain where vegetation has been scraped off with earth moving equipment. The eroded gravels and sands from this material are where you find most of the magnetite. It has a high nickel content, enough so that it has been considered mineable over in O'brien. Up near Roseburg, they've carved a whole mountaintop off mining Limonite, a weathered type of Peridotite similar to Serpentine.

Of late, we've been being warned about high amounts of Chromate 6 in the black sand. Laughable as it's everywhere.

Another thing to watch out for is Cinnabar, mercury is a naturally occuring metal around here, up Cow Creek, it's said to be of high enough content to literally bleed out of the rock.
iceng (author)  capt.tagon3 years ago
I've been to Agness twice and know of the surface of which you speak.

Have you noticed a diminishing of the real dark black sand turning
to a lighter shade since grade school days?

Not so much in the tributaries here, still quite a bit of it. The diminishing probably has to do with hydrology and metrologic history. A whole lot of flushing ain't going on.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, in wintertime we have two major weather phenomena that are shaped by the jet stream out over the Pacific. One is the evaporation of tremendous quantities of water into a warm, unstable airmass which then gets conveyed into the western continental US almost straight out of Hawaii, hence its popular name, "The Pineapple Express". The other is southward pulses of extremely cold air off the Gulf of Alaska, or if even stronger, down from the Bearing Straits.

1964 was the best example of the perfect storm. You get a long term Pineapple Express which saturates everything with a long period of rain, then you start getting mixing between it and the cold air off the Gulf of Alaska which starts producing snow. Snow isn't so bad, but what we get in flood years is a complete wring-out of moisture in slushy snow that starts snapping off smaller trees from the sheer weight of it within a couple hours.

In December 1964, we had two weeks of this, followed by the return of warm rain in a Chinook that immediately pealed off all the snow in January and sent it downstream. On the hike down to Rainey Falls, there is a marker up on the hillside at 110 feet above average river level. That is the flood stage marker for the maximum height of the water flowing through that area during the flood. It was at 36 feet above flood stage at Grants Pass. At the height of the flood, it was estimated to be flowing at 500,000 cubic feet per second at Agness. This is the combined total flow from Elk Creek, the Applegate River, Illinois River and Rogue River.

These periodic major floods occurred quite regularly until the flood projects put in the Applegate and Lost Creek flood control dams. Another one was built on Elk Creek but the enviros got it and so it got partially built and then notched. Our last major flood was in 1997, from estimates it would have been as large or larger than the 1964 flood if the dams weren't there to modulate the water flow. It was kept back to a maximum of 27 feet above flood stage at Grants Pass.

With the removal of Savage Rapids Dam and a few really good floods we may get replenishment down at Gold Beach as all the sediment washes downstream.
svereecke3 years ago
Isn't that the same powder used for Thermite welding ? I have seen this process used to weld railroad tracks together. Maybe with a same setup can be used to cast small objects. And somebody mentioned radioactive sands, they also occur naturally. Sand eroded from granite (naturally radioactive) formations in France , washes up on the beaches in the Camargue. Anywhere you got sand made from igneous sources (volcanic or magmatic rock) there is a chance that natural isotopes are in it. Check for monazite sands.It is mostly harmless!
iceng (author)  svereecke3 years ago
Yes, an iron oxide is a component for a Thermite chemical reaction.

I understand during the war our military would insert a Thermite plug
into a cannon barrel on a tank or artillery piece and the heat produced
would actually bend the barrel...

whenu3 years ago
Might pay to check what else is in the sand, black sand from the West Coast beaches in NZ has titanium in and is difficult to smelt
iceng (author)  whenu3 years ago
Good point, but I have only that 3 step refined soda bottle.
So I suspect most metals are gone.

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