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Land Cruising - Prospecting:
 Introduction To Land Cruising

 Land Cruising And Prospecting

 The Compass

 Examining And Locating

 Early Surveys

 Corner Marks

 Points For Homesteaders

 Prospecting For Gold, Etc.

 Sampling Ore

 How To Locate A Claim

 Read More Articles About: Land Cruising - Prospecting

Sampling Ore

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

As I have mentioned before, it is a good policy to take samples of any mineral that strikes you as being valuable, especially if it is heavy or even if it is light, and is a strange piece of rock. It is a good idea if there are any veins open in that country or district to take a look at the ore, they are taking out. This will give you a pointer of what the mineral is in that country or district and what to look for when prospecting, also the heft and color of the ore.

Now if your sample is hard, take the stub end of your pick and on a fiat, hard stone, pulverize it as fine as possible, taking care to save the pieces that fly off. Your sample to be tested should be, say from one to five pounds, depending on whether you are using your horn spoon or your gold pan. Add water until you have a thin pulp or sludge. Put in an ounce of quick-silver, more or less according to the size of your sample. Also drop in a little prussic acid. Stir thoroughly an hour or two if you can stand it that long for your quicksilver must be thoroughly mixed in order to pick up your gold.

Now add more water and wash off the dirt.

This washing process is hard to describe. You must get the water to whirling around in your pan, letting a little slop out occasionally until nothing but a little coarse stuff remains in the bottom of the pan or spoon. This is called amalgam. Pick out the coarse stuff and save it and if black sand is present, take it out With your magnet. It will stick to the magnet the same as your gold dust to the quicksilver. Now take the amalgam, place it in your chamois skin and twist it hard so your quicksilver will go through into a dish of water so you can save it. Put what is left on a shovel and heat it red hot. This burns out what quicksilver is left and leaves your gold or other mineral. This is called sponge gold.

During this heating process be careful and not inhale the fumes or smoke as they are poisonous. Stand on the up wind side. If you want to make it finer make a retort of clay, put in your amalgam or sponge gold and heat your ' clay retort red hot. After it cools, open it and you may have a gold button big enough to buy a grub stake if you have struck it lucky, then again you may not. Most of the old timers stop at the sponge stage and let the assay office finish it and I would suggest when taking it to be assayed, leave a sample at two or three assay offices for obvious reasons, and it is also good policy to send a sample to the nearest U. S. assay office.

It is good policy to test a vein for different minerals. To test for copper, pulverize a piece of your rock the same as for gold. Mix as much more salt with it and rub in some candle grease or fat. Then put your sample on a hot fire. If you have much copper in your ore the flame will show first blue, then greenish. It is best to make this test at night and to bake your ore a little before crushing it.

To test for silver, rub a piece of copper smartly through your ore sample after it is crushed. A piece of copper wire or an empty copper rifle shell will do. If silver is present it will turn your copper white. Another way is to heat a chunk of ore good and hot, then plunge it in cold water. If there is any silver metal in the sample it will come to the surface in the shape of a greyish scum.

To test for coal, take a chunk of the ore to be tested and seal it up in the bowl of a clay pipe with a daub of clay. Then heat red hot in the-fire, letting the stem act as a vent and if you have coal it will appear in the shape of coke, when the pipe bowl is opened.

The Mexicans use a retort for retorting gold made out of a raw potato. They cut a hole in the potato,- insert the amalgam, heat a shovel red hot, place it over the hole.. Then set the shovel on the fire and heat it red hot. The quick-silver or mercury will go into the potato and can be saved. This is not such a bad retort as a couple of Mexicans cleaned up a good chunk of money from the tailings of the Comstock mine before the owners got on to it that they were throwing away so much silver.

It takes 1863 degrees Far. to melt silver and about 2009 degrees to melt copper and 428 degrees only to melt tin, gold about 1983 degrees. So you will observe that with the exception of tin you must have a good hot fire and as iron melts at about 2912 degrees you need not spoil your shovel making these tests. You can test specimens from a gravel bar the same as for a vein. Some of our best placer mines were blundered over for years by hunters and trappers before they were discovered by prospectors, hence it is for the trapper and hunter this is intended.

It often happens that one wishes to get an average of his vein or outcrop. To do this, take a sample from four different spots on your vein or outcrop. Pulverize them as before stated and spread them on a floor or clean spot to an even thickness and mark it off into four squares. Now select one of these squares and repeat the operation with it. Go through this operation until you think you have a fair sample. Leave a sample at three assay offices and take the aver-age value of the three tests. If you are selling it it is better to underrate your claim a little than to overrate it for the prospective buyer will get suspicious the minute you begin to make excuses and you may have trouble in disposing of it. Set an honest valuation on your property as you see it and stick to it.

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