Why the Nugget Bucket Concept Is Golden for Panning

Updated on February 17, 2020
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John has prospected for gold in Arizona 10 years. His experience taught him to deal with the terrain, heat, and gold fever. He makes tools.

Why the Nugget Bucket Concept Is Golden for Panning
Why the Nugget Bucket Concept Is Golden for Panning | Source

The Basic Concept of the Nugget Bucket

Imagine for a moment that you are looking at your child's kiddy swimming pool. The water has a greenish tone and there are a couple of small rocks, a few pebbles, and some sand and silt at the bottom. You wish you could save the old water for your garden.

Now, imagine having a spark of imagination cross your mind. You realize you can save the water and clean the little pool at the same time. Placing your kids' little pool inside of a somewhat larger child's pool will allow you to catch the water spilling over the edge of the smaller pool. If you turn on your hose with a high-pressure setting, the water will get agitated. Dirty water will flow out and into the bigger pool. At the same time, briefly stir the water a bit with a rake and the silt becomes dispersed.

Pretty soon, you will see the water in the tiny pool getting clearer. The grubby water collecting in the big pool will be available to drench your plants. You will also be able to see the couple rocks, a few pebbles, and the heavier sand particles that don't dissolve into the solution. The example above is an analogy for the process of washing shovelfuls of dirt and rock and being left with the gold.

Fluid Dispersion and the Nugget Bucket

Oh, If Only for a Good Idea!

Unfortunately, I never had this idea cross my mind. It is the principle that might have made me a lot of money! I probably would still have taken a bucket and gathered the old water, pouring it on my plants. Mark Petersen was more observant and much smarter than me!

Petersen, an Oregonian, was wanting to get his kids away from the TV and phone. He knew the kids liked to polish rocks, so he thought of a way to separate and wash them for the rock tumbler. With a screen over the bucket and scoopfuls of dirt being poured on top, he instructed the kids to stream pails of water on the material. Petersen had cut a hole in the bottom of the bucket so dirty water could be discharged. He noticed how much fun the kids had and how well it worked. He knew the principle could be applied to amateur gold prospecting.

Eureka! The Nugget Bucket Was Conceptualized

The Nugget Bucket is patented and is a substitute for long sessions of traditional gold panning. If you mine for gold, you can spend backbreaking hours panning while trying to filter out dirt and get down to just black sand. At this point, you very slowly and carefully wash back and forth to reveal the color in your pan. Instead of panning material until you are left with black sand and some heavies (and low back pain), much of the panning is eliminated by the Nugget Bucket.

A cross section of the construction of the patented Nugget Bucket
A cross section of the construction of the patented Nugget Bucket | Source

Could I Make One?

I envisioned the parts above and below as a way to wash more material faster than panning. The point is that the cost was minimal:

  • The funnel was one I used to change oil.
  • The electric box cost about a buck at a hardware store.
  • The bucket was free.
  • The little kids "U" shaped table or stand or chair or whatever was 2 bucks at Goodwill.
  • The screen was part of a set I bought at a gold prospecting show.
  • Use any 1/8 " mesh and make your own.
  • The container I "stole" from my wife!

This Is My Attempt

This apparatus fits inside the bucket - the blue section keeps the funnel and screen from falling through the hole in the bottom of the bucket.
This apparatus fits inside the bucket - the blue section keeps the funnel and screen from falling through the hole in the bottom of the bucket. | Source

How My Apparatus Fit in the Bucket

My version of a bucket classifier made from scraps.
My version of a bucket classifier made from scraps. | Source

What Comes in the Gold Nugget Bucket Kit?

There are no age requirements and the bucket contains everything you need to gold prospect.

  • Gold Prospectors Association of America (GPAA) approved
  • Contains:
  • Written instructions on use
  • Gold pan
  • Lid makes bucket seat
  • 2 screens
  • Funnel
  • Concentration bowl and base
  • Scoop
  • Tweezers, gold vial, black sand magnet, suction bottle
  • Outer bucket and water pail

At the time of this writing, the prices for the Gold Nugget Bucket were all over the place, so shop carefully.

A Great Way to Introduce Gold-Panning to Youngsters

The Nugget Bucket does not have to be perfectly level to work. The self-contained kit has drain holes that free the wash water so it doesn't back up. This 5-gallon bucket weighing only 7 pounds is especially useful for kids. There is no searching for what you need, and it is light to carry into the wild. It's a great way to introduce gold panning to youngsters for developing the family's "fever". The Nugget Bucket is a self-contained classifier and sluice all in one.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • I'm thinking a very much scaled-up "Nugget Bucket" might be useful. They only make one size?

    To my knowledge, they make one size. They are 15" x 12" x 10". I frequently increase the size of tools found on the Internet. The thing you would need to be concerned about is the height of the bucket. Deeper the bucket the more pressure as it comes out. When it hits the collection vessel you would have to adjust its height, adjust the hole size, etc. so that your heavy material does not splash up and over. But yes, it would be a good idea to make a big one - I think.

© 2018 John R Wilsdon


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