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Thread: Iron Pyrite vs Gold

  1. #1
    Member Stogey's Avatar
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    Default Iron Pyrite vs Gold

    I have a stream I like to fish that is just littered with what I am assuming is Iron Pyrite flakes... tiny, shiny, goldish. Is there a simple and/or fool-proof way to differentiate 'fools gold' from gold?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Talking A couple of tests

    A couple of tests:

    1. If it looks like gold in bright sunlight, it will look shinny and like gold out of direct sunlight. Iron pyrite will not shine unless under direct sunlight.

    2. If you can put a knife blade on it and it bends, it is probably gold. Iron Pyrite will break.

    3. A pin will stick in gold, Iron Pryite will break.

    4. Some Iron Pyrite is magnetic.

    5. From what I have seen, if I am into Iron Pyrite, the pieces are usually consistant in size.

    6. If it is lumpy and roundish, or flat and odd shaped, send it to me as I making a collection of such shaped pieces.

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    Dave, thanks for the tips. I have panned alittle but I'm a novice from the get go. I probably threw away more gold than I found, cuz I dont know squat but its still fun.

  4. #4
    Member Stogey's Avatar
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    Thanks! Those tests sound fairly idiot proof - I'll test that and let yo know!

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    Is this real gold? It passed all of your tests!!
    Thanks,
    Monica
    QUOTE=Daveinthebush;22335]A couple of tests:

    1. If it looks like gold in bright sunlight, it will look shinny and like gold out of direct sunlight. Iron pyrite will not shine unless under direct sunlight.

    2. If you can put a knife blade on it and it bends, it is probably gold. Iron Pyrite will break.

    3. A pin will stick in gold, Iron Pryite will break.

    4. Some Iron Pyrite is magnetic.

    5. From what I have seen, if I am into Iron Pyrite, the pieces are usually consistant in size.

    6. If it is lumpy and roundish, or flat and odd shaped, send it to me as I making a collection of such shaped pieces.[/QUOTE]

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    Member GrizzlyH's Avatar
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    Go into Oxford Assaying in Anchorage. They will show you the real gold and what it looks like. Once you see it, you will know the difference in the field between pyrite and gold. The pin trick also works quite well. Gold will have a shine whether in or out of sunlite where pyrite won't.
    I can do the impossible right away. Be patient, miracles take me a bit longer.

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Anyone notice the amount of "views" this post has garnered with only 5 posts? yowsers.....

  8. #8
    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    More than likely what you are looking at is Mica.
    Small bits of mica are often confused for gold in the flow sands of many alaska creeks and rivers.
    If it is on top of the sand and it is shiny it is usually Mica.
    Like Dave said put some in a gold pan or some kind of dish and when you pass your hand over it and it gets shaded it won't be shiny anymore. A surefire way to determine it is not gold.
    Iron pyrite due to its molecular composition tends to form squares, Nugget size pieces of Iron Pyrite will often have some or all the side be very square or have small squares of iron pyrite on the main piece. Also as dave said it is harder than gold and therefore more brittle than gold. Smash a real gold nugget with a hammer and it will flatten smash some pyrite and it breaks and little bits fly off along with some dust.
    Most real gold will be the same or very close to looking the same as the gold in a ring or other jewelry.
    Gold has a specific gravity of 19.6 meaning it is 19.6 times heavier than water of the same size. Most of the other rocks/sand have a specific gravity closer to 6. So as you can see it is very rare to see any gold in a stream just lying on top of the other material its gravity would always make it want to sink especially in a stream current.
    Of course if the area is open to mining you should just buy a good green colored riffled gold pan and test it out. They should only cost you $8-$12. A classifier will also help in speeding up the process.
    I highly recommend the Proline professional pan ,the Keene sp14 superpan, the GPAA pan or the Garrett supersluice gold pan(the supersluice is better suited for those with larger hands).
    I don't like the regular Garrett pans as they have too small of a bottom in them.
    metal pans don't have the riffles and are heavier and will also rust.
    DO NOT buy one of those cheap $.99 black pans unless your dog needs a new water dish cause thats all they are good for and I am not sure they even work good for that.
    As a beginner the deep riffles in these new pans will really help you retain the gold in the pan while panning.
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  9. #9
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    One key with gold is it is very dense, so you aren't going to see it on the surface of the streambed, or gravel bars, it will have sunk to the bottom of those areas. There are some rare occasions where gold will be on the surface, but typically it isn't just sitting there waiting to be picked up.

    On the other hand, where iron pyrite is found, gold is often found, so it might be worth doing some panning. Just beware that you need to be sure your area isn't already claimed for mining.
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    Member Rock_skipper's Avatar
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    dkwart, greed is farmost on peoples mind

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