Most people have heard of panning for gold, but what about panning for platinum? Platinum is much rarer than gold, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use similar prospecting techniques. In fact, it’s much heavier than gold, making many prospecting techniques even more effective when looking for platinum.
It’s possible to pan for platinum by scooping sediments into a pan, adding water, then slowly rotating and shaking the pan to separate the minerals. As the water moves around the pan, heavier metals are left behind (including gold and platinum). You can also use a sluice to pan for platinum.
Throughout this post, I’ll show you how to pan for platinum, where you should look for platinum to prospect, and how you can tell if you found real platinum.
How To Pan for Platinum
To pan for platinum, you have to find a platinum-rich, moving body of water, then scoop sediment from the water into a prospecting pan. Swirl the water around the pan, removing lighter sediments and revealing heavier minerals and metals. Look for white-silver specks. Platinum is usually found in grains.
Follow this in-depth process to pan for platinum:
- Find a platinum-rich location. Platinum is extremely rare, so it’s important to research where you’re going before looking for this metal. You’re unlikely to find platinum away from volcanic systems and fault zones. Platinum often forms well below the surface, so it needs a way to get through the crust.
- Scoop wet sediment from the edges of the water or underwater. Water soaks the sediment, preventing the platinum from moving around. Moving bodies of water, such as streams, creaks, and rivers, are much better for platinum prospectors than stagnant ponds and lakes. They can carry platinum for many miles.
- Swirl the water through the sediment in the pan until it separates the heavy metals from the dirt. It’s the same process as panning for gold. The goal is to get rid of the dirt and other unwanted debris to reveal anything that might be valuable. Don’t pour out any of the water or sediments until you’re sure there’s no platinum in them.
- Search for platinum grains and nuggets in the pan. Platinum is usually much brighter and whiter than silver. However, these two are often confused with one another. If you find silver, it’ll be slightly duller than platinum. Platinum grains look like extremely small nuggets. Platinum doesn’t flake like gold very often because it’s too dense.
- Use prospecting tweezers to remove the platinum from the pan. These tools allow you to pull platinum and other valuable findings from the pan without having to sift through everything or accidentally dump the platinum back into the water. Never try to pull platinum specks from a prospecting pan with your fingers; they could get lost.
For more information, review this helpful YouTube guide to learn how to pan for platinum:
Can Platinum Be Found Naturally?
Platinum can be found naturally in areas where it breaks off from a platinum-rich vein, cracks in the earth’s crust, and near fast-moving bodies of water. You can also find platinum in gravel and clay. Platinum-rich countries include Brazil, Australia, and South Africa.
Keep an eye out for these signs that platinum could be nearby:
Cracks and Fault Zones
Platinum is much more likely to come through cracks, crevices, and fault lines than to break through the earth’s crust on its own. Additionally, platinum can be found in volcanic tunnels and around abandoned mines. These mines often go below the surface, which means they can break platinum grains into nearby rivers.
Rushing Rivers and Creeks
High-speed rivers and other moving bodies of water can pull platinum and move it downstream. If the water is too slow, there won’t be enough force to move the heavy grains of platinum. It should be noted that platinum typically doesn’t move as far from the source as could since it’s significantly heavier and denser.
Platinum-rich veins often form with many other minerals found well below the earth’s crust. If there was a platinum-rich vein in the area, there could be platinum grains for you to pan. Keep in mind that this rule remains true, even if the platinum-rich vein was completely removed. Platinum often breaks apart as it gets through the surface.
Dense Gravel Beds
Platinum can often get stuck in gravel because it’s dense and doesn’t allow heavier metals to move downstream. Additionally, platinum can be found below gravel beds in the false bedrock, which is a dense clay layer above the real bedrock. Much like gold, platinum can also be found in black sand near gravel creeks.
For more information, check out my article on finding platinum from gravel: Is It Possible to Get Platinum From Gravel?
Now, with all that said, it’s worth considering that according to the University of Waterloo, 80% of the world’s platinum supply comes from South Africa. As such, it’s very unlikely that you’ll find platinum in most other places, but it’s still possible.
Anywhere platinum forms with immense pressure under the crust is a possible place to prospect and pan for platinum grains and nuggets.
Is Platinum Panning Worth It?
Platinum panning is worth it because platinum is one of the most profitable and rare metals to find. If you find raw platinum, you could make more money than you’d get if you were panning for gold. Additionally, platinum panning doesn’t require any extra gear that you wouldn’t have if you were prospecting for gold.
Consider these reasons that platinum panning is worth the adventure:
- ECOS reports that platinum is rarer than gold, silver, and palladium. While it might be harder to find, you’ll make more money from it. Gold is often known as the standard of prospecting, but platinum is worth far more than gold. Keep an eye on current market trends for exact price estimates.
- The profit margins for panning platinum are sky-high. The gear cost for platinum panning is typically far less than the price you’ll get for one gram of platinum. After that, everything you get from platinum panning will be profitable. This includes gold, silver, and other metals you might find along the way.
- You can find gold, silver, and other valuable metals while panning for platinum. Panning for platinum takes you to the same places you’ll find any other metals and minerals that form below the earth’s crust. This process means you could find loads of metals that you didn’t even intend to find, adding to your profit.
- It’s easier to know if you got platinum than most other minerals due to its density and weight. Not only is platinum extremely shiny and vibrant, but it’s also one of the heaviest substances you’ll find in a prospecting pan. It’ll stick around after a few swirls of water, letting you spot it much quicker.
- The odds of finding platinum are low, but the rewards are high. You shouldn’t expect to find platinum grains every time you go prospecting. That being said, finding a grain can be extremely rewarding and exciting. Platinum’s rarity makes finding the precious metal even more enticing.
Platinum panning is worth it for the adventure and the experience, but there’s also a chance that you could make a lot of money. Very few hobbies offer outdoor excitement with the possibility of striking it rich. Panning for platinum can help you learn more about rocks and minerals while collecting a decent payday.
How Do You Know if You Found Platinum?
To know if you found platinum, check its color, density, and color. Platinum has a very high melting point, which means you won’t be able to melt it nearly as quickly as other metals. Additionally, it won’t discolor or burn, so it’s easier to know if you’re dealing with a weaker material.
Try these methods to know if you found platinum while panning:
- Use a lighter or a hot flame on the metal. If it melts or burns, it’s not platinum. Platinum won’t burn, and there aren’t any handheld lighters that are hot enough to melt or discolor the material.
- Matthey claims most acids won’t deteriorate platinum (other than Aqua regia). The deterioration process will be slow enough for you to wash the material, preventing it from ruining the platinum. Acids are commonly used to test if a material is platinum.
- Platinum is a bright white silver shade that shines among other metals and minerals. You can spot it quickly, then check if it’s slightly dull (if it’s dull, it could be silver). Furthermore, platinum is most commonly panned in grains, not flakes or large nuggets.
- Another option is to use a density tool. There are plenty of mineral density tools that check if something is dense enough to be platinum, gold, diamond, and so on. Platinum Investment shows that platinum is 21.45 grams per cubic centimeter (12.4 ounces per cubic inch).
While platinum isn’t the easiest metal to find, it often sells for a lot more than gold. Platinum is used in jewelry, vehicles, and many other items that we use in everyday life. Its rarity and demand make it one of the most profitable metals to find while prospecting.