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STEPS TO SUCCESS IN DREDGING

By Tom Ashworth




I am sitting here at my home in Dayton, Oregon at the end of January with a deep sensation of emptiness due to not being behind the nozzle of my suction dredge. It is not the cold weather that keeps me away from the Klamath River, it is the floods we had this year. Some say it has been worse than the 1964 flood. I don't know, but I know it did a lot of damage this year. The water in the Klamath River is very muddy and I don't like to dredge when I can't see. Instead I decided to write a information article on things that I have found to work well when I do get to go dredging.

Dredging for gold for me has been one of the most exciting and profitable recreations that there is. There has been much written about gold dredging. Some of the stuff written works great and other stuff didn't work. I am going to talk about some of the things I believe to work and some of the things I believe sounds good, but don't work well at all. Judge for yourself.

DIVING

Some people think diving for gold is dangerous. I have read some books that the author claims to be an expert on dredging and he suggest the use hip waders and would never dive because of the dangers of diving. Some people say that diving should only be done after hours of specialized training. They are also told that diving is hard work and that you must be young to do it. These people will buy a 2 or 3 inch dredge without hookah capabilities and work shallow areas or where bedrock can be reached easily. What I have found is that they have to work harder to find less gold than if they had bought a 4 or 5 inch dredge with hookah. The main reasons I believe this to be true is that the rocks in the river are larger than 2 or 3 inches and it takes too long to throw the rocks that would not fit in the suction hose and also they usually have one plug up after another in the suction hose or jet tube with this dredge. Sure they can pack them into remote areas, but it has been my experience that a high banker would be a better choice. When you are wearing waders and not diving, you are bent over in an uncomfortable position, pulling rocks above the surface of the water to throw. It is common sense that a rock is heavier out of water than it is under water.

I believe that diving for gold can be dangerous if you don't use a little common sense. I also believe it is safe if you use common sense. Most of my diving is done in chest deep water. I use protective gear such as a wet suit to keep me warm. I suggest at least a 7mm thick Farmer John Style. When it gets warmer you can remove the jacket and just use a tee shirt underneath the overall bib on the Farmer John Style. Diving is also great because you can see the gold you are dredging up, so you know what layer, or where on bedrock it is coming from. If you don't get your head under water with a diving mask on you can't see the gold. I also suggest you buy a diving mask with a purge on it. It makes it easier to get the water out of your mask if it fills up. To get the water out of your mask, just tilt your head forward and blow out your nose until the water is out.

When I am diving, I am in a laying down position for dredging. This is more comfortable than bending over with waders. I believe it is easier to work a 5" dredge than any other, because they are not much heavier than the smaller dredges, but the will move more gravel, have less plug ups and you can use them for sampling large rivers to determine if a super dredge is needed for a pay streak.

SAMPLING

I believe that I have wasted more time dredging by not thoroughly sampling an area. Most of the prospectors I see that are successful do sample an area to make sure it is worth bringing more equipment in. I have some new rules for myself for sampling. (1) Determine the minimum amount of gold I would be willing to work for on a daily basis. For me it is currently 1/2 ounce. (2) Decide how deep you are willing to dredge to recover the minimum with the equipment you are using. I typically say that I will remove 1 foot of overburden for every 1 inch diameter of my suction hose. If I use my 5" dredge, then I would be willing to dredge up to 5 feet of overburden to recover 1/2 ounce of gold in an 8 hour shift. If I use my 6" dredge then I will dredge 8 feet of overburden to recover 1/2 ounce of gold in an 8 hour shift. (3) Decide where you would like to start. I usually listen to people, read reports and look the area over to verify that its accessibility is going to be acceptable to me. If it takes you a week to pack a dredge in to sample, may be fine if you dredge full time, but I only have 3 or 4 days off from my job per week, so this would not be acceptable for me. (4) Draw out a sketch of the area. Plan a sampling pattern that will allow you to discover any pay streaks on the claim. (5) Dredge a sample hole of a fixed size and determine how much you dredged. For example if you dredge a hole 12' long X 9' Wide and 3' Deep you have just dredged 12 cubic yards. Measure the gold and determine if you can obtain your minimum amount with your equipment per day. For example, using the above hole with 12 cubic yards. If I am using a 5" dredge with a rated capacity of 12 cubic yards per hour, I multiply the rated capacity of the dredge by .667, which means the 5" dredge will move 8 cubic yards per hour. Then I say I want a 1/2 ounce in 8 hours the formula works like this:

((True Dredge Capacity = (8 Cu. Yds.)) X (Number hours worked = (8 hours))) = (Total Cu. Yds. Per day = (64 Cu. Yds.))

Then you divide the Total Cu. Yds. Per day by the sample size.

64 divided by 12 = 5.33 Sample factor

Then you take the amount of gold you want in 1 day and divide it by the sample factor. In this case we want 1/2 ounce or 10 Dwts. Per day.

10 Dwts. divided by 5.33 = 1.88 Dwts.

In the above illustration we would have needed to find 1.88 Dwts. in the sample hole to be of interest to me.

If I find an acceptable sample I dredge several other sample holes that help me determine the direction and length of the pay streak. Also it is a good idea to drop back behind the sample hole to see how far back and how far forward the pay streak extends.

The key to being successful at dredging is to sample.

CONCLUSION

These are just a few of things I have found to work. If you have any suggestions please Email me and I will try to add them, so we can help other miners.



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HOW TO GET GOLD OUT OF BLACK SAND WITHOUT MERCURY

By Tom Ashworth






There have been many questions about how to get gold out of black sand. I thought I would post a method that I use on cleaning up on my 6" Dredge. I clean up the top of my sluice box everyday and the rest of the sluice box when it is needed. One problem I see with a lot of new miners is they clean up too often and this takes away from the time the could be dredging and finding more gold. If you have the sluice on your dredge set up so that the gravel is not getting too full between the rifles and not running so fast that it sweeps the rifles, then once a day clean up is all you should need on most store bought dredges. The perfect set up for the sluice is so you have about one quarter inch of carpet showing between the gravel of the middle riffle of the sluice and the one below it. Now dredge all day.

After dredging all day I empty my dredge into a large wash tub. I then screen those concentrates using a 20 mesh screen into a 5 gallon bucket. I then pan the concentrates that did not go through the 20 mesh screen while down at the river (looking for nuggets of course). Any gold found in the concentrates that were to large to fit through the 20 mesh screen, I put in a vial. I then put a shovel sluice (a Keene or Le Trap sluice works well) inside the dredge sluice so that the shovel sluice is close to the header box or jet flare (Note: This only works on 5" and larger dredges). I use a modified Keene A-52 sluice. It has some NoTrax matting glued in the top to catch fine gold. I then start the engine on the dredge at idle so the water runs down the shovel sluice. I adjust the engine so that the water flow is swift enough to wash out light sand and still save all of the black sand and gold. The out put of the shovel sluice goes back into the dredge sluice and there are still several riffles in the dredge sluice that will catch any flour gold that happens to escape (this will remain until the next time I dredge). I then scoop the concentrates that I screened into the shovel sluice. When all concentrates are ran. I then empty the shovel sluice into a 5 gallon bucket. I then have <20 mesh extreme concentrate.

To do the final cleanup I use a panning wheel and a micro sluice. You can also pan down to get to the last of the impurities. These impurities usually consist of a small amount of black sand, a few iron rocks, and pieces of lead.

There are many ways to go about doing this final cleanup. Personally, in general cleanup I like to stay away from the use of mercury, as there is a faster way without it. I also like to stay away from the use of nitric acid because its usually not needed either. There are times when the use of mercury and nitric acid can help speed thing up. Usually though, I can do the final cleanup without them.

Here's one quick procedure to do the final cleanup;
(1) Dry out the gold by pouring it into a metal pan and heating it over a stove outside. Don't get it so hot that any pieces of lead which are still with the gold will melt. Heat it up just hot enough to dry it out. It is a good idea to stay upwind anytime you put gold in a pan and heat it up. Mercury attaches itself to gold in different amounts. Often it's there but you can't see it. When heating the gold to certain temperature, the mercury vaporizes off. These vapors are very dangerous. So it is good practice to heat your gold outside and downwind of you, even when heating it up just enough to dry it out. Also, the pan you use for heating up gold during cleanup should be used only to cleanup, not for cooking. I use a portable hot plate for this.
(2) Once the gold is dry, bring it inside, out of the wind, and pour it onto a piece of clean paper. You can now pick out the larger impurities from the gold with tweezers.
(3) Now a magnet can be used to extract most of the remaining black sands for you gold. I use a super magnet, but I used to use the Keene Gold Magnet. The Super Magnet is just larger.
(4) By lightly blowing over the gold, you can finish extracting the rest of the impurities. If you can locate a very fine screen you can use it to separate the smaller pieces of gold and impurities from the larger ones just after drying it out. This speeds the process up a bit.
(5) Put your gold back in the metal pan, take it outside and heat it up, hotter this time, in order to vaporize any further mercury for the gold. This will bring your gold back to the basic deep rich beauty which we love.
(6) Now you can put it in a bottle. If you want to sell it keep it dry, but if it is for show put water in the bottle to keep it beautiful. The water will also prevent the glass vial from breaking due to the weight of the gold.


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HOW TO USE MERCURY
TO RECOVER GOLD


by Tom Ashworth







LEGAL NOTICE

Tom Ashworth (the author) shall not be liable for incidental or consequential damages in connection with or arising out of the furnishing or use of this material. I have no control over how you do these procedures. This procedure works for me and if something gets messed up it is your problem, not mine!

WARNING

  • The processes contained herein require the use of high heat, mercury and very dangerous acids, and must be performed in a well ventilated area. Always use mercury, sulfuric acid and nitric acid in a well ventilated area. DO NOT breathe the fumes.
  • Mercury begins to vaporize at room temperature and its fumes can be deadly.
  • Fumes from many ores are deadly when heated.
  • Nitric acid can be absorbed through the skin causing nitric acid poisoning. WEAR RUBBER ACID GLOVES. Always add acid to water, NEVER ADD WATER TO ACID!
  • Mercury and nitric acid can kill if swallowed.
  • Nitric acid can ruin your clothes and shoes.
  • Always wear rubber gloves, plastic safety glasses and a plastic or rubber apron.

IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE ABOVE WARNINGS, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER!

EQUIPMENT USED

  • Large copper gold pan
  • Rubber spatula
  • Tweezers
  • Oral syringe or large veterinarian's syringe
  • Virgin cotton balls
  • Pyrex Beaker

INGREDIENTS USED

  • Mercury
  • Nitric acid
  • Distilled water (With no chlorine)
  • Mercury

NOTES

Any clean water without chlorine. Chlorine mixed with nitric acid can dissolve gold. Gold must be clean in order for mercury to attach itself. Sometimes placer gold will be covered with a thin film of oil, which will prevent the gold from being amalgamated unless the oil is cleaned off first. CAUTIONS: Working with nitric acid, can be very dangerous. Be extra careful to avoid spilling it on yourself or splashing it in your eyes. DO NOT breathe its fumes! When a solution of nitric acid is poured onto a dirty set of concentrates, the effect will be a bubbly reaction. Allow the concentrates to bathe until all such visible reaction has stopped.

PROCEDURE

1. Soak the concentrates in a 10:1 solution of nitric acid, which means 10 parts of water to 1 part of nitric acid. use a Pyrex beaker. This is to clean the gold. You can do a better job of this if you put the concentrates and the 10:1 solution in a rock tumbler with a plastic or rubber barrel (no metal, acid will corrode the metal).
2. Rinse the concentrates with fresh water so that the acid is diluted and washed away. Once this is done, the concentrates are properly set up for amalgamation.
3. Take a clean, large, copper gold pan and coat thoroughly with mercury, using a pad of folded cloth. Deposit the concentrates in the pan, add some fresh water and swirl and agitate until all visible gold has been taken in by the mercury. If you want to check for platinum, if you suspect it may be present, wash the black sands into a separate pan which can be checked later.
4. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the gold bearing mercury from the copper gold pan into a Pyrex beaker.
5. Wet a ball of virgin cotton and squeeze out the excess water. Place it into the bottom of an oral or veterinarian syringe and pour in the amalgam ball. Replace the plunger and holding the end of the syringe over a container, press the plunger to extract the excess mercury. If the container is filled with water, the mercury will be prevented from splashing or bouncing out as it drops into the container if you hold the end of the needle under the surface of the water.
6. Remove the plunger from the syringe and extract the cotton containing the amalgam, using tweezers. Put the amalgam ball into a Pyrex beaker and set it in a safe place, downwind of any populated area within the vicinity.
7. Mix and pour in a solution of nitric acid and allow it to bubble until there is no visible reaction. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BREATHE THE FUMES GIVEN OFF BY THE CHEMICAL REACTION!
8. Pour off the acid solution into another glass jar or a beaker; so that, the mercury in solution can be recovered later (see how to do below).
9. If all of the mercury has not been dissolved from step 7, with the gold back in its natural flake and powder form, pour fresh water into the jar and use an old screwdriver to poke it around and break it up. Pour out the water and pour in another solution of nitric acid. Sometimes it is necessary to poke at the gold just a bit to break it up while it's being worked on by the acid. An old screwdriver works well for this.
10. When the reaction stops, flush with fresh water. If the gold is still not back in its natural form, repeat the above steps. When dealing with small amounts of amalgam, usually the gold will be thoroughly cleaned of it after step 7. Sometimes when working with larger amounts of amalgam, it is necessary to do the steps a few times as described above, or to use a stronger acid solution. NOTE: if you have a large amount of concentrates, you may wish to ignore steps 3 and 4 and place the concentrates and an estimation of the correct amount of mercury into a rock tumbler and allow it to turn for several hours. Some large scale operations employ the use of portable cement mixers. If a new cement mixer is used, run it first with a full load of sharp sand and gravel for 10 to 12 hours to scour out any paint that may be present, as it will contaminate the mercury.

RECOVERING THE MERCURY
FROM THE NITRIC ACID SOLUTION

To recover the mercury in solution (see step 8), simply drop some aluminum foil into the acid solution. A chemical reaction takes place and the acid solution will drop the mercury to attack the aluminum. This causes the mercury to revert to its natural liquid metal form at the bottom of the jar. Then rinse out the acid solution and you will be left with most of your original mercury.

CLEANING MERCURY

After mercury has been used a number of times in the process of amalgamation, it becomes dirty and tends to break down into smaller, separate balls instead of it all coming together into a single mass. To clean dirty mercury, you simply soak it in a nitric acid solution of 30:1 part of acid. This will clean the impurities out and allow it to amalgamate properly again. Mercury can be used over and over to amalgamate and cleaned when necessary in this way.


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FLUXING AND FIRING SILVER AND GOLD ORES
by Tom Ashworth



LEGAL NOTICE

Tom Ashworth (the author) shall not be liable for incidental or consequential damages in connection with or arising out of the furnishing or use of this material. I have no control over how you do these procedures. This procedure works for me and if something gets messed up it is your problem, not mine!

WARNING

  • The processes contained herein require the use of high heat, mercury and very dangerous acids, and must be performed in a well ventilated area. Always use mercury, sulfuric acid and nitric acid in a well ventilated area. DO NOT breathe the fumes.
  • Mercury begins to vaporize at room temperature and its fumes can be deadly.
  • Fumes from many ores are deadly when heated make sure you use vent hoods or exhaust vents.
  • Nitric acid can be absorbed through the skin causing nitric acid poisoning. WEAR RUBBER ACID GLOVES. Always add acid to water, NEVER ADD WATER TO ACID!
  • Mercury and nitric acid can kill if swallowed.
  • Nitric acid can ruin your clothes and shoes.
  • Always wear rubber gloves, plastic safety glasses and a plastic or rubber apron.
  • When pouring molten ore, make sure the container that you are pouring into is absolutely dry and free from moisture. Trapped moisture will explode into steam.
  • A muffle furnace is probably the best source of heat for firing ores. It's a good idea to have a piece of paper burning in the furnace before turning on the gas.

IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE ABOVE WARNINGS, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER!

EQUIPMENT USED

  • FURNACE OR OVEN FOR FIRING - It must heat to 1950 degrees F for gold and 2100 degrees F for silver. A muffle furnace is best. It fires to about 2300 degrees F and the ingredients can be easily added to the ore while firing.
  • CRUCIBLE - Clay or graphite crucibles to use in a muffle furnace. Other types of crucibles can be used in an electric furnace.
  • STIRRING ROD - 1/4-inch diameter steel rod about 3 feet long works very good. Welding rod doesn't hold under high temperatures.
  • TONGS - Long-handled tongs to remove crucible from furnace. HAMMER- hammer to break up the slag after it is completely cool.
  • MORTAR AND PESTLE - You can use a 4-inch diameter pipe cap as a mortar and a piece of pipe 8-10 inches long with pipe caps on both ends as a pestle to crush the ore. A small strainer or screen to take out the bigger pieces of ore for finer crushing is often useful. You can pour slag into a mortar or pipe cap when it is hot from the furnace. When the metal has cooled, you can use the pestle for breaking out the button of metal.
  • ANGLE IRON - To add necessary ingredients while the ore is in the furnace, a 3-foot piece of 1-1/2 inch angle iron is handy.

INGREDIENTS USED

  • WHEAT FLOUR - Makes carbon and adds heat from the inside to give the metal its identity.
  • SAND - Added to the bottom of the crucible to keep the ore from sticking and added to the top of the metal so that it will not vaporize. When the metal is in liquid form, it vaparize the same way water will steam when it boils.
  • OIL OR LARD - Used to help the ore form together into a button or dorms bar. It also helps to build up heat.
  • SODA ASH - Used to thin down slag, cover and the metals.
  • POTASH OR LYE - Thins slag from gold and helps in cleaning.
  • BORAX - Used to cover and clean gold. It also helps x keep the gold from vaporize off.
  • CRUSHED ORE - The ore needs to be crushed so that it ca heat and fire down faster.
  • Un-iodized table salt
  • 1 cup crushed ore
  • 3 tablespoons soda ash
  • 1 tablespoon wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon lard or oil
  • 1/4 cup silicon sand
  • 2 tablespoons borax

STEPS FOR FIRING SILVER ORE

1. Mix the ore, wheat flour, lard and 1/2 of the soda ash.
2. Put 1/2 of the silicon sand in the bottom of the crucible and add the ore mixture.
3. Cover the ore mixture with the remaining soda ash, the borax and the silicon sand.
4. Place in the furnace and put on high heat (2100 degrees F). it takes about 2 hours or longer, so don't get in a rush. The ore should go thin and look like honey. There will be spots of fire or black spots at first. These are the wheat flour and carbon making the metal take on its identity. If the ore is too thick, use potash to thin it. Keep adding slowly, a bit at a time, until the ore thins to the consistency of honey. If it starts to boil over, add some salt, however, make sure it keeps boiling. When the ore looks like honey and lays flat, it is ready to pour. Make sure there are no lumps in it.
5. Lift the crucible out of the furnace with the tongs.
6. Rotate the crucible 3 or 4 times and then pour it quickly into a dry mortar.
7. Let it cool. you should have a slag that looks like colored glass with a metal button on it.
8. Remove the button with a hammer or pestle. To make sure you have all the metal, pan the slag. Sometimes the slag u need to be fired more than once. Repeat the process.
9. Put the button through nitric acid or aqua regia to find out what metals it contains and how much there is.

STEPS FOR FIRING GOLD ORE

1. Mix the ore, wheat flour, lard and 1/2 of the soda ash.
2. Put 1/2 of the silicon sand in the bottom of the crucible and add the ore mixture.
3. Cover the ore mixture with the remaining soda ash, the borax and the silicon sand.
4. Place in the furnace and put on high heat (1950 degrees F). it takes about 2 hours or longer, so don't get in a rush. The ore should go thin and look like honey. There will be spots of fire or black spots at first. These are the wheat flour and carbon making the metal take on its identity. If the ore is too thick, use potash to thin it. Keep adding slowly, a bit at a time, until the ore thins to the consistency of honey. If it starts to boil over, add some salt however, make sure it keeps boiling. When the ore looks like honey and lays flat, it is ready to pour. Make sure there are no lumps in it.
5. Lift the crucible out of the furnace with tongs.
6. Rotate the crucible 3 or 4 times and then pour it quickly into a dry mortar.
7. Let it cool. you should have a slag that looks like colored glass with a metal button on it.
8. Remove the button with a hammer or pestle. To make sure you have all the metal, pan the slag. Sometimes the slag will need to be fired more than once. Repeat the process.
9. Put the button through nitric acid or aqua regia to find out what metals it contains and how much there is.


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HOW TO USE AQUA REGIA TO PURIFY GOLD
by Tom Ashworth



LEGAL NOTICE

Tom Ashworth (the author) shall not be liable for incidental or consequential damages in connection with or arising out of the furnishing or use of this material. I have no control over how you do these procedures. This procedure works for me and if something gets messed up it is your problem, not mine!

WARNING

  • The processes contained herein entail the use of high heat, and very dangerous acids, and must be performed in a well ventilated area. Always use mercury, sulfuric acid, Hydrochloric and nitric acid in a well-ventilated area. DO NOT breathe the fumes.
  • Fumes from many ores are deadly when heated.
  • Nitric acid can be absorbed through the skin causing nitric acid poisoning. WEAR RUBBER ACID GLOVES. Always add acid to water, NEVER ADD WATER TO ACID!
  • Aqua regia, Hydrochloric and nitric acid can kill if swallowed.
  • Nitric acid can ruin your clothes and shoes.
  • Always wear rubber gloves, plastic safety glasses and a plastic or rubber apron.
  • When adding aqua regia to ore, there can be a red gas given off; THIS RED GAS WILL KILL!
  • Sometimes the ore will bubble over, so watch it carefully.
  • Use the aqua regia in an open area and add it to the ore very slowly. Aqua regia cannot be boiled or simmered in the house or where it is not well ventilated. This can cause serious illness or KILL YOU!
  • Use a vent hood with an exhaust fan or simmer in the open.
  • Hydrochloric acid is very dangerous. It can burn to the bone and is extremely painful. In most cases, it has burned before you know it.
  • Aqua regia can ruin your clothes and shoes.

IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE ABOVE WARNINGS, DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER!

EQUIPMENT USED

  • Pyrex Beaker container
  • Hot plate
  • Plastic spoon for stirring or a glass rod can be used
  • Squeeze bottle, such as a soap bottle, containing distilled spring water for washing the beaker
  • Ash-free or a coffee filter (An ash-free filter best, but it costs more and is harder to find)
  • A plastic funnel with strainer to use to filter the bottle or beaker

INGREDIENTS USED

  • Gold or finely powdered ore (100 mesh crushed black sand, ore, etc.)
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Nitric acid
  • Formic acid
  • Sodium sulfite
  • Distilled water
  • Uniodized salt

HOW TO USE AQUA REGIA TO PURIFY GOLD

1. Place your gold or finely powdered ore in a Pyrex container or beaker.
2. Mix 1 part nitric acid to 3 parts hydrochloric acid in a separate glass or plastic container. When mixing the acids together, use great caution!
3. Add the acid mixture, very slowly, to the Pyrex container or beaker containing the ore.
4. On a stove or hot plate, simmer until the gold is in solution and the nitric acid is boiled off. It Will look like maple syrup and be a yellowish to orange color.
5. To make sure all the nitric acid has been boiled off, add a small amount of formic acid. If nitric acid is present, a reddish brown gas will be given off. Add hydrochloric acid, if necessary, to keep the material covered with liquid. Continue simmering until the nitric acid is gone.
6. Filter off any solids that are not in solution through a plastic strainer or funnel lined with a filter. Neutralize this material with lime juice and discard.
7. Add to the liquid solution an equal amount of water.
8. Drop a small amount of uniodized table salt into the mixture to check for silver. If silver is present, a white substance will fall to the bottom of the container. This is silver chloride. Continue dropper small amounts of salt in until the silver chloride stops falling.
9. Filter off the silver chloride through a plastic.
10. strainer or funnel lined with an ash-free or coffee filter. DO NOT DISPOSE OF THE ACID SOLUTION, SET IT ASIDE!
11. Rinse the filter containing silver chloride with water.
12. Dry the filter and silver chloride.
13. Place the filter and silver chloride in a clay crucible and burn the filter by lighting a match to it.
14. Cover the silver chloride and burned filter with soda ash.
15. Place the crucible in a furnace or oven and heat to a temperature of 2100 degrees F until the silver is a smooth honey-like liquid with no lumps in it.
16. Immediately pour the silver into a mold or let it set in the crucible until it is cool.
17. Remove the silver and wash with soap and water.
18. Take the solution that you had set aside (see step 9) and add a little sodium sulfite. The gold will start to fall. Continue to add the sodium sulfite until the gold stops falling. You should see black specks that look like pepper. This is gold sulfide.
19. Filter off the gold sulfide through a plastic strainer or funnel lined with a filter.
20. Rinse the filter containing gold sulfide with water.
21. Dry the filter containing gold sulfide.
22. Put the filter and gold sulfide into a clay crucible and burn the filter by lighting a match to it.
23. Cover the gold sulfide and burned filter with borax and place the crucible in a furnace or oven and heat to 1950 degrees F until the gold is a smooth, honey-like liquid with no lumps in it.
24. Immediately, pour the gold into a mold or let it set in the crucible until it is cool.
25. Remove the gold and wash with soap and water.
26. Add 1/4 cup lime juice to the acid mixture to neutralize it and dispose of it immediately.


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Treating and Preventing Venomous Snake Bites

by Tom Ashworth


Snakes fascinate many people.

Some are dangerous and others are not.

Gold Miners should be aware of potential dangers posed by venomous snakes. Every state but Maine, Alaska and Hawaii is home to at least one of 20 domestic poisonous snake species. A bite from one of these should always be considered a medical emergency.

About 8,000 people a year get bit by snakes in the United States; 9 to 15 victims die. Even a bite from a so called "harmless" snake can cause an infection or allergic reaction in some people.

Medical professionals sometimes disagree about the best way to manage poisonous snakebites. Some physicians hold off on immediate treatment, opting for observation of the patient to gauge a bite's seriousness. But most often, doctors turn to the antidote to snake venom, antivenin, as a reliable treatment for serious snakebites.

Antivenin is derived from antibodies created in a horse's blood serum when the animal is injected with snake venom. In humans, antivenin is administered either through the veins or injected into muscle and works by neutralizing snake venom that has entered the body. Because antivenin is obtained from horses, snakebite victims sensitive to horse products must be carefully managed. The danger is that they could develop an adverse reaction or even a potentially fatal allergic condition called anaphylactic shock.

Types of Poisonous Snakes

Two families of venomous snakes are native to the United States. The vast majority are pit vipers, which include rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths (water moccasins). Pit vipers get their common name from a small "pit" between the eye and nostril that allows the snake to sense prey at night. They deliver venom through two fangs the snake can retract at rest but can spring into biting position rapidly. About 99 percent of the venomous bites in this country are from pit vipers. Some Mojave rattlesnakes or Canebrake rattlesnakes, for example carry a neurotoxic venom that can affect the brain or spinal cord. Copperheads, on the other hand, have a milder and less dangerous venom that sometimes may not require antivenin treatment.

The other family of domestic poisonous snakes is coral snakes found chiefly in the Southern states. Related to the much more dangerous Asian cobras, coral snakes have small mouths and short teeth, which give them a less efficient venom delivery than pit vipers. People bitten by coral snakes lack the characteristic fang marks of pit vipers, sometimes making the bite hard to detect.

Though coral snakebites are rare in the United States only about 25 a year by some estimates. There were no deaths, but several victims experienced respiratory paralysis.

Some nonpoisonous snakes, such as the scarlet king snake, mimic the bright red, yellow and black coloration of the coral snake. This potential for confusion underscores the importance of seeking care for any snakebite.

The bites of both pit vipers and coral snakes can be effectively treated with antivenin. But other factors, such as time elapsed since being bitten and care taken before arriving at the hospital, also are critical.

First Aid for Snakebites

"In the past five or 10 years, there's been a backing off in first aid from really invasive things like making incisions," says Arizona physician David Hardy, M.D., who studies snakebite epidemiology. "This is because we now know these things can do harm and we don't know if they really change the outcome."

Many health care professionals embrace just a few basic first aid techniques. These steps should be taken:

  • Wash the bite with soap and water.
  • Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.
  • Get medical help.

"The main thing is to get to a hospital and don't delay," says Hardy. "Most bites don't occur in real isolated situations, so it is feasible to get prompt [medical care]." He describes cases in Arizona where people have caught rattlesnakes for sport and gotten bitten. "They waited until they couldn't stand the pain anymore and finally went to the hospital after the venom had been in there a few hours. But by then, they'd lost an opportunity for [effective treatment]," which increased the odds of long term complications.

Some medical professionals, cautiously recommend two other measures:

  • If a victim is unable to reach medical care within 30 minutes, a bandage, wrapped two to four inches above the bite, may help slow venom. The bandage should not cut off blood flow from a vein or artery. A good rule of thumb is to make the band loose enough that a finger can slip under it.
  • A suction device may be placed over the bite to help draw venom out of the wound without making cuts. Suction instruments often are included in commercial snakebite kits.

Avoiding Snakebites

Some bites, such as those inflicted when snakes are accidentally stepped on or encountered in wilderness settings, are nearly impossible to prevent. But experts say a few precautions can lower the risk of being bitten:

  • Leave snakes alone. Many people are bitten because they try to kill a snake or get a closer look at it.
  • Stay out of tall grass unless you wear thick leather boots, and remain on hiking paths as much as possible.
  • Keep hands and feet out of areas you can't see. Don't pick up rocks or firewood unless you are out of a snake's striking distance. (A snake can strike half its length)
  • Be cautious and alert when climbing rocks.
What do you do if you encounter a snake when hiking or picnicking? Just walk around the snake, giving it a little room six feet is plenty. But leave it alone and don't try to catch it."

How NOT to Treat a Snakebite



Though U.S. medical professionals may not agree on every aspect of what to do for snakebite first aid, they are nearly unanimous in their views of what not to do. Among their recommendations:
  • No ice or any other type of cooling on the bite. Research has shown this to be potentially harmful.
  • No tourniquets. This cuts blood flow completely and may result in loss of the affected limb.
  • No electric shock. This method is under study and has yet to be proven effective. It could harm the victim.
  • No incisions in the wound. Such measures have not been proven useful and may cause further injury.

Arizona physician David Hardy, M.D., says part of the problem when someone is bitten is the element of surprise. "People often aren't trained in what to do, and they are in a panic situation." He adds that preparation which includes knowing in advance how to get to the nearest hospital could greatly reduce anxiety and lead to more effective care.


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