Clay

sushidingo

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Mar 3, 2015
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How bad is clay to run through a sluice? Is there a certian way to break it up before going through? I ran a whole bucket of clay and came up with one speck. Wondering if it was because clay pulled it out as it rolled through.
 
Apr 17, 2014
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How bad is clay to run through a sluice? Is there a certian way to break it up before going through? I ran a whole bucket of clay and came up with one speck. Wondering if it was because clay pulled it out as it rolled through.

I cannot imagine why there would be visible sized values in a clay matrix.

But ... take small quantities and dissolve the clay in large volumes of water and slowly wash away the fines.

If you actually find worthwhile values I am sure that can be scaled up.
 

russau

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May 29, 2005
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Clay is sticky , so gold and other material will stick to it while heading towards the waste end of your sluice. and if I did find out that gold was present in the clay waste I use a bucket of water and Clay-B-Gone , and a surfactant and a mixer on a electric drill to agitate /mix up the cocktail to help bust up the clay so you could retrieve it ! BUT then again the amount of gold you'll retrieve will be in small amounts , so would this be worthwhile ?? One way is to try it !
 

X4FRNT

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Dec 5, 2019
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I find the majority of my gold in some sort of clay layer, whether it is sloppy clay or very dense clay I will try to break it down and run it through my sluice. It’s easy to tell if your clay layer is worth working or not, test pan it! Take a scoop and break it down in a pan and see how much gold you find, take the same sized scoop or 3-4 scoops to account for the time lost breaking down the clay and see if the results warrant the time spent breaking apart the clay.

As far as running the clay directly through a sluice, without breaking the clay apart it will be detrimental in your sluicebox. If you let a ball of sticky clay roll down your riffles in your sluice chances are it may catch some of the gold on the way and take more gold out of your box. The trick is breaking down the clay to a manageable level, I find that if I treat my bucket like a gold pan and wet all my material, stratify, rinse and do that process a few times it really helps break that clay down. Hope this helps,
 

russau

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May 29, 2005
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I've seen people run the clay matrix in a cement mixer to break up the clay and the run through your sluice after diluting the mixture with water . You should dump the waste water before running the cons through your sluice or what ever piece of equipment you decide to use . Just soaking the clay balls isn't enough to dissolve the clay sufficiently . OR let the clay dry hard and crush / pulverize it to powder and the try the dissolving the slurry and flush it again with water and run it.
 
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Clay Diggins

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You will never get Clay to run through a sluice. As russau pointed out I'm sticky and hide my gold well. If you do find me in your sluice I will rob all your gold and leave you with some nasty waste water.

Better to stay with sand and gravel. You will live longer and I won't be nearly as cranky after your attempts to "break me up". :thumbsup:

Heavy Pans


p.s. The very fine particles that form clay are attracted to one another due to their natural electrical potential (charge). The proper application of chemistry can break those charge bonds and dissolve the clay into ordinary muddy water. Change up your pH in the right direction with enough water and your clay will liquefy much better.

p.p.s. It's a rare circumstance when the value of the gold content justifies the expenditure on chemicals to break up the clay.

p.p.p.s. If you still want to try experimenting with chemistry to break down clay - sodium carbonate, soda ash or washing soda (all the same chemical) is a good cheap safe place to start.
 
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Ohiogoldfever

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Oct 15, 2020
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I have had reasonable luck running clay. I can only run it in small bits though. If I like to test an area I take a big clump home, let it dry out, crush it up and then introduced handfuls into a bunch of water. Keeping things agitated you will allow all the heavy stuff to fall to the bottom and the clay particles stay suspended in the water. Change out your water frequently until you wash all of the interesting stuff out.

Clay is a real pain in the ass but it’s surprising what you find in it sometimes.
 

N-Lionberger

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Had great luck with the red clay on the North Yuba, just the red stuff, there were different colors of clay in layers the gold was only in the red stuff, we caught a lot of chunky pieces but not a lot of fines I figured the clay robbed the fines.
 

X4FRNT

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Dec 5, 2019
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I agree, I’ve had tons of success running clay. Especially the clay layer right on top of bedrock (for obvious reasons). I typically run into the gray clay in my area, it is always present in the decomposing bedrock in my area and that’s where the gold sits. I use a 5 gallon bucket, and break apart the clay with lots of water and stirring of the material in the bucket, works fine for me
 

russau

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A portable cement mixer would work fine to bust up the clay while constantly flushing out the waste! Then you could do a volume of material and run your cons after it is completely busted up !
 

Duckshot

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p.s. The very fine particles that form clay are attracted to one another due to their natural electrical potential (charge). The proper application of chemistry can break those charge bonds and dissolve the clay into ordinary muddy water. Change up your pH in the right direction with enough water and your clay will liquefy much better.

Lye would raise the PH I imagine, but please don't put lye into the watershed. Might work good in a recurculating high banker.

I ran a couple buckets of mostly clay just the other day. Clumps are no good. I used more water than usual to mix it into a slurry before I put it on the slick plate. Caught about half a dozen pieces of very small gold, so it can work.

Most guys would probably just dump out the few little specks I usually catch, but a 50 mesh peice is a picker in glacial till. :tongue3:
 

Assembler

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May 10, 2017
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Lye would raise the PH I imagine, but please don't put lye into the watershed. Might work good in a recurculating high banker.

I ran a couple buckets of mostly clay just the other day. Clumps are no good. I used more water than usual to mix it into a slurry before I put it on the slick plate. Caught about half a dozen pieces of very small gold, so it can work.

Most guys would probably just dump out the few little specks I usually catch, but a 50 mesh peice is a picker in glacial till. :tongue3:
Just a idea to try is cooking the clay until bone dry then crushing / impact mill the material before screening. Then magnet to remove most iron. Before any type of wet process.
 

Assembler

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Just a idea to try is cooking the clay until bone dry then crushing / impact mill the material before screening. Then magnet to remove most iron. Before any type of wet process.
A Electrostatic plate used dry will also work. See my thread about this topic.
 

Assembler

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A Electrostatic plate used dry will also work. See my thread about this topic.
A simple charged plate that is then turned upside down will answer a lot of questions and is very quick. Best to do with different batches of material to see where the best values run.
 
Apr 17, 2014
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You will never get Clay to run through a sluice. As russau pointed out I'm sticky and hide my gold well. If you do find me in your sluice I will rob all your gold and leave you with some nasty waste water.

Better to stay with sand and gravel. You will live longer and I won't be nearly as cranky after your attempts to "break me up". :thumbsup:

Heavy Pans


p.s. The very fine particles that form clay are attracted to one another due to their natural electrical potential (charge). The proper application of chemistry can break those charge bonds and dissolve the clay into ordinary muddy water. Change up your pH in the right direction with enough water and your clay will liquefy much better.

p.p.s. It's a rare circumstance when the value of the gold content justifies the expenditure on chemicals to break up the clay.

p.p.p.s. If you still want to try experimenting with chemistry to break down clay - sodium carbonate, soda ash or washing soda (all the same chemical) is a good cheap safe place to start.
Awww c'mon Clay....nobody said you had to run ... just go with the flow :)
 

russau

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May 29, 2005
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A club member bought a 55 gallon drum of this and gave some of it to our club members whom ever asked for some ! He said to slightly dilute it with water and you'll have a life time supply of it . So far he has been right !
 

Assembler

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A club member bought a 55 gallon drum of this and gave some of it to our club members whom ever asked for some ! He said to slightly dilute it with water and you'll have a life time supply of it . So far he has been right !
There have been a few people who like the clay if there is enough fine gold in it. Just got to start thinking out side of the sluice box a little.
 

Assembler

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The electric charge of clay may be different then the gold. This could help too remove the clay material when dry. This is a slow process for sure.
 

Assembler

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Some people have even taken powdered dry clay and spread it out to run some type of air blower to remove most of the clay from the other minerals that are heaver. A very controlled air flow is needed here for good results.
 

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