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What is the best sluice box for gold mining? That’s exactly what we are going to look at today. There are a number of products on the market, with varying degrees of quality.

However, for this top 5 review roundup we have carefully selected a range of sluice boxes to cover all needs and budgets; from superior battery powered sluices, to extra portable backpack arrangements.

For our findings at a glance, just head to the table below. For a full, in depth review of each of our chosen products, plus a detailed buyer’s guide, keep on reading.


Best Sluice Box – Top 5

SLUICE BOXNAMEDETAILSOUR RATING
TOP PICK PORTABLE:
Royal Folding
Backpack Sluice
box
Unfolded: 50" x 9"
x 2-1/2" deep
Flare: 13-3/4" wide
TOP PICK POWER:
6" Mini Power
Sluice Box Kit
Includes Sluice,
Header Box, Stand
and Pump
Compact 30"
Sluice Box by
Royal Manufacturing
30" L x 7" W
Aluminum Body
Portable, 3.5 lbs
Stansport Aluminum
Sluice Box
24", 30" and 50"
Versions Available
Gold Cube 3 Stack
Deluxe Gold Sluice
with Accessories
Unique G-Force
Technology. Cleans
& Separates
Gold

What is the best sluice box in 2018?

The best sluice box is the Royal Folding Backpack which is very popular due to its portability. For power, look no further than the 6″ Mini Power Sluice Box kit. The Stansport Aluminium falls short of the offerings from Royal, however the Gold Cube 3 with its G-Force separation is a great option for those with the budget.


Top 5 Sluice Box Reviews

The different brands and models of sluice boxes can be compared to each other, and even rated, based on their construction design, work output (how much deposit can be processed in unit time, for example, an hour), and cost-performance ratio.

With this rating criteria in mind, we will now jump into our top 5 review section.

1. TOP PICK PORTABLE: Royal Folding Backpack Gold Sluice Box

The Royal folding backpack sluice is a well-constructed, high-quality mechanical sluice box that can concentrate the gold particles contained in mounds of deposits placed on its flare.

As the product name suggests, this self-locking, lightweight folding model is designed to fit into a backpack.

It is also compatible with the Royal True Highbanker which can convert it into a highbanker, and this allows one to carry this equipment for gold prospecting in areas far off stream.

The model is designed and made by the premier U.S-based company, Royal Manufacturing LLC.

Being our top pick portable and compact choice, the unit weighs only 7.3pounds; (its shipping weight averages about 7.8pounds as it comes packed with its instruction manuals.)

The folded model measures 15inches in length, 9inches wide, and 4-1/8inches tall. The folded unit is designed to fit into a standard backpack or 5-gallon bucket.

Even though the folded unit is only 15inches long, when it is fully unfolded with the wide flare attached, the equipment measures 50inches in length (from the tip of the fitted flare to the end-tip of the body tray).

Its wide flare, also called the feeder, is 13.75inches wide at its top end while its bottom-end where it is bolted to the body tray is 9inches wide. The entire feeder is 2.5inches deep.

The folded unit can be carried around easily using the nylon carry strap fitted on the outside of the body tray.

This folded box contains a detachable flare which needs to be fitted to the body tray using a pair of bolts and wing-nuts. The unit has 3 foldable units.

Its body tray is made from high-quality aluminum sheet that is 0.063inches thick which gives it the requisite strength to resist bending and deformation while still keeping the overall weight of the model to a minimum.

In the body tray is fitted a durable 0.05inches thick expanded metal made of aluminum.

Atop this expanded metal is a set of 8 equally-spaced zinc-plated riffles made from 18-gauge steel. These riffles are colored gold. It also comes with a high-quality carpet.

The rubber mats of this model are ribbed with Deep-V ribs that improve their gold-trapping efficiency.

The black color of these mats provide a good contrast background that allows for easy gold identification as the yellow speckles from gold can be quickly discerned as they lay atop a black background.

This easy-to-setup and easy-to-use model requires the user to only unfold the folded unit, and then fit the feeder to the body tray before placing the sluice box on a carefully chosen spot in the stream.

To steady this model in a gently inclined stream, a wide rock that strands across the flare width can be placed on the flare so as to prevent the box from flowing along with the water stream or being unsteadied by the water current.

The rock also forms a bridge across the flare which prevent water tides from disrupting the smooth flow of the water being funneled to the body tray.

Another way to steady this unit in the stream is to brace the flare using rocks, with a pair of large rocks being placed on either side, along the outer side, of the slanting surface of the flare.

It can also be converted into a highbanker that can be powered by either a gas-powered or electrically-powered water pump if it is fitted on a four-legged stand with the flare detached.

In place of the flare, a head unit connected to a water pipe that comes from the water pump. This head unit is connected to the body tray using a set of bolts and nuts that are sealed using rubber washers.

The most suitable highbanker-hopper for this unit is the Royal True Highbanker which converts this mechanical sluice box into a power sluice without the need for tools, (head here for our best gold highbanker review round up).

To adjust the incline of this unit, the head unit can be raised up along its two legs while the downstream end of the sluice box can be lowered along its pair if legs till the right incline is achieved.

Finally, this model uses a patented locking mechanism to fold the sluice box down.

Pros of the Royal Folding Backpack Gold Sluice Box
  • Self-locking sluice box.
  • Portable.
  • Easy to setup.
  • Easy to use.
  • Can be converted into a hibanker using the Royal True Highbanker unit.
  • Tray made from 0.063-inch thick aluminum plate.
  • Has a 0.5-inch thick aluminum extended metal.
  • Good construction design.
  • Simple maintenance.
The Cons
  • Needs to be steadied in a stream with rapid-flowing water.

Bottom-line

The Royal Folding Backpack gets our top pick portable sluice box option for good reason.

It is a well-constructed, high-quality, and high-performance mechanical sluice box that can efficiently concentrate the gold particles contained in deposits.

Featuring a self-locking, lightweight folding design, when fully set-up the unit provides excellent dimensions for efficient prospecting.

Overall, a clear winner in the portable sluice box domain.


2. TOP PICK POWERED: 6-inch Mini Power Sluice Box

Now we have our top pick, in the larger, battery powered sluice box category.

This model is a high-performance electrically-powered power sluice box that comes with its set-up kit, including a 24-inch tall sluice stand.

It is powered by a 12-volt, high-capacity water pump that comes fitted to a 4-feet long water hose that is 3/4inches wide.

This water pump is rated as having a maximum capacity of pumping 800 gallons-per-hour.

As all good models should, this sluice box can effectively concentrate the gold particles contained in mounds of deposits placed on its flare.

If a recovery tub is connected to this U.S-made model, then a water-recirculating system can be established easily. However, the recovery tab needs to be acquired separately.

The entire fully set-up unit weighs about 15pounds, and is shipped as a single package that is 26inches long, 10inches wide, and 10inches tall.

This package comes with the instruction guides that allow the user to easily and successfully set it up. In the fully set-up model, the sluice tray (trough) is 32inches long and 6inches wide.

Unlike the Royal Folding Backpack which has a feeder, the 6-inch Mini Power Sluice comes with a header box that is 8inches long, 6inches wide, and 6inches tall.

The sluice box rests on a sluice stand that is 8.5inches wide and can achieve a maximum height of 24inches.

The water pump can also be powered by a standard 12-volt car battery.

This means that it can be transported along with a water tank by a vehicle to distant gold-prospecting sites where it can be set-up easily and powered by the car battery to mine for gold.

Its body tray is made from high-quality metal sheet that is strong enough to resist bending and deformation while still keeping the overall weight of the model to a minimum.

Within the body tray is fitted a durable expanded metal. Atop this expanded metal is a set of 5 equally-spaced plated riffles.

It also comes with a high-quality carpet along with rubber mats.

The color of these mats provide a good contrast background that allows for easy gold identification as the yellow speckles from gold can be quickly discerned as they lay atop the front mat.

This easy-to-setup and easy-to-use model requires the user to only fit the sluice box on its stand. Afterwards, the sluice box is adjusted as necessary so that a gentle incline is obtained.

To adjust the incline of this unit, the head unit can be raised up along its two legs while the downstream end of the sluice box can be lowered along its pair if legs till the right incline is achieved.

Pros of the 6-inch Mini Power Sluice Box
  • Compact power sluice.
  • Has a 12-volt 800-gph water pump.
  • Easy to setup.
  • Made from quality materials.
  • Easy to use.
  • Comes with a well-fitting 4-feet long water hose.
  • Good construction design.
  • Simple maintenance.
The Cons
  • Requires electricity to operate.
  • Comes without a recovery tank.

Bottom-line

The 6-inch Mini Power Sluice is a compact yet high-quality, electrically-powered power sluice box that comes with its set-up kit, including a 24-inch tall sluice stand.

Powered by a 12-volt, 800-gph high-capacity water pump that comes fitted to a 4-feet long water hose, this remains extremely portable (you can run it off your car battery), while providing the level of performance you need while out in the field.

If power is what you are after from your sluice box, this is the model to buy.


3. Royal Manufacturing, Compact-30 Sluice Box

Here we have another option from Royal Manufacturing. This is a 30-inch long mechanical sluice box that comes with detachable flare, carpet, and riffles.

It also has a well-positioned black-colored anodized carry handle for portability.

This compact model weighs only 3.5pounds, with its shipping weight averaging 3.8pounds as it comes packed with its instruction manuals.

It is shipped as a single package which contains the sluice tray, instruction manual, and detached flare.

Once it has been unpackaged and set-up accordingly with the flare (or feeder) securely fitted on the body tray, the entire unit is 30inches long and 7inches wide.

The color of the portable sluice box is silver. The anodized handle is 4inches long. To make it safe for use, its corners are well-rounded and deburred.

Its body tray is made from high-quality aluminum sheet that is 0.063inches thick which gives it the requisite strength to resist bending and deformation while still keeping the overall weight of the model to a minimum.

In its body tray is fitted a durable 0.05inches thick expanded metal made of aluminum.

Atop this expanded metal is a set of 5 equally-spaced zinc-plated riffles made from 18-gauge steel. These riffles are colored gold. It also comes with a high-quality carpet.

This model uses outdoor matting, unlike its closest relative in this review, the Royal Folding Backpack which comes with rubber mats.

This easy-to-setup and easy-to-use model requires the user to fit the feeder to the body tray before placing the sluice box on a carefully chosen spot in the stream.

To steady this model in a gently inclined stream, a suitable rock can be placed on the flare to weigh it down so as to prevent the equipment from sliding off or wobbling when in use.

Another way to steady this unit in the stream is to brace the flare using rocks, with a pair of large rocks placed on either side of the outer slanting surface of the flare.

The use of detachable flare channels in this model allows for 2 or more feeders to be placed in series, that is, one in front of the other, so that more water can be fed into the body tray as a smooth water current flowing at a relatively high-speed. This improves the gold-mining efficiency of this equipment.

Pros of the Royal Manufacturing Compact-30 Sluice Box
  • High-quality mechanical sluice box.
  • Comes with a removable flare, carpet, and riffles.
  • Portable.
  • Easy to setup.
  • Easy to use.
  • Tray made from 0.063-inch thick aluminum plate.
  • Has a 0.5-inch thick aluminum extended metal.
  • Good construction design.
  • Easy maintenance.
The Cons
  • Needs to be steadied in a stream with rapid-flowing water.

Bottom-line

The Royal Manufacturing, Compact-30 Sluice Box is a well-constructed, ultra-lightweight, and portable 30-inch long mechanical sluice box that comes with detachable flare, carpet, and riffles.

Coming a close second to our top pick portable option, this unit is highly recommended for those that do not want to utilize the backpack configuration of the previous Royal offering.


4. Stansport Aluminum Sluice-Box

The Stansport is a compact, mechanical sluice-box that comes with detachable flare, expanded metal, and riffles.

It is a self-locking, and like the top pick Royal, configured to be a backpacking stream sluice for easy transport.

The model also closely resembles the Compact-30 Sluice Box from Royal Manufacturing LLC, both in construction design and how it is used.

It is a compact, ultra-lightweight and portable unit that can be manually carried around by the miner. This stream sluice model is designed and made by Stansport.

It weighs 5.05pounds, which makes it considerably heavier than the Compact-30 Sluice Box.

It can come in one of 3 models, which have basically the same construction design but different lengths.

The first model is 24inches long, the second one is 30inches long, while the third model is 50inches long.

All of the 3 models are 8inches wide. Like all back-packing sluice boxes, the acquired model needs to be unpacked from its package, unfolded, and then set-up accordingly with the flare (or feeder) securely fitted on the body tray.

The color of this model is silver. To make it safe for use, its corners are well-rounded and deburred.

Its body tray is made from high-quality and strong aluminum that gives the model the requisite strength to withstand bending and deformation while still keeping the overall weight of the model to a minimum.

Its body tray is fitted with a durable expanded metal. Atop this expanded metal is a set of 5 equally-spaced electroplated riffles.

This model comes with high-quality carpet and rubber mats. The color of these mats provide a good contrast background that allows for easy gold identification as the yellow speckles from gold can be quickly discerned as they lay atop the front mat.

This easy-to-setup and easy-to-use sluice box requires the user to fit the feeder to the body tray before placing the sluice box on a carefully chosen spot in the stream.

To steady this model in a gently inclined stream, a suitable rock can be placed on the flare to weigh it down so as to prevent the equipment from sliding off or wobbling when in use.

Another way to steady this unit in the stream is to brace the flare using rocks, with a pair of large rocks placed on either side of the outer slanting surface of the flare.

The use of detachable flare channels in this model allows for 2 or more feeders to be placed in series.

This means more water can be fed into the body tray as a smooth water current flowing at a relatively high-speed. This improves the gold-mining efficiency of the equipment.

Pros of the Stansport Aluminum Sluice-Box
  • High-quality mechanical sluice box.
  • Comes with a removable flare and expanded metal.
  • Portable.
  • Easy to setup.
  • Easy to use.
  • Made of high-quality materials
  • Good construction design.
  • Easy maintenance.
The Cons
  • Needs to be steadied in a stream with rapid-flowing water.

Bottom-line

The Stansport Aluminum Sluice-Box is a compact well-constructed and high-performance mechanical (self-locking backpacking) model that comes with detachable flare, expanded metal, and riffles.

It has everything you need to begin prospecting, however doesn’t quite match the lightweight design of our top pick portable options.


5. Gold-Cube 3-Stack Deluxe Sluice Box

The Gold-Cube 3 Stack Sluice Box is a uniquely-designed electrically-powered power sluice that has a slick plate and 2 separator trays.

It comes with its set-up kit, including a strong sluice stand. It is powered by a 12-volt, high-capacity water pump that comes fitted to a water hose.

This water pump is rated as having a maximum capacity of pumping 1100 gallons-per-hour. On the downside, this model comes without a battery, and one needs to separately acquire a powerful 12-volt battery.

This sluice box can effectively concentrate the gold particles contained in mounds of deposits. This model is designed and made by Gold Cube.

The entire fully set-up unit weighs about 27.4pounds. It is shipped as a single package that comes with the instruction guides that allow the user to easily and successfully set it up.

In the fully set-up model, the sluice tray (trough) is 19.4inches long, 13.2inches wide, and 17.2inches tall. Unlike the Royal Folding Backpack which has a feeder, this Gold-Cube model comes with a flexible body tray without a feeder.

This flexible body tray is folded onto itself twice to create a 3-stack gold-collecting surface tray that is made from high-quality low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic.

The entire sluice box rests on a sluice stand. The color scheme of this sluice box is black.

Instead of a feeder, this Gold-Cube model has a slick plate that can be used to precisely control the speed of the water flow.

Also this sluice box is build using G-force technology and it has a G-Force Separator that aids in the separation of gold from other sediments, and gold concentration on the collecting tray.

This model uses centrifugal and gravitational forces along with the columning effects of its stacked tray to create a sufficient G-force to force the particles in the slurry (that is derived from the water washing the deposits).

This is to separate according to their density and also exit out of the column in a similar fashion, that is, the lighter (low-density) particles exit the column first before the medium-density particles.

Finally the dense gold particles can be collected from the column.

The water pump of this sluice box can be powered by a standard 12-volt car battery.

This means that it can be transported along with a water tank by a vehicle to distant gold-prospecting desert sites where it can be set-up easily and powered by the car battery to mine for gold.

Pros of the Gold-Cube 3-Stack Deluxe Sluice Box
  • Compact power sluice.
  • Has a 12-volt 1100-gph water pump.
  • Easy to setup.
  • Made from quality materials.
  • Easy to use.
  • Comes with a well-fitting water hose.
  • Good construction design.
  • Simple maintenance.
The Cons
  • Requires electricity to operate.
  • Comes without a 12-volt battery.

Bottom-line

The Gold-Cube 3-Stack Deluxe is a compactly-built, high-performance, and uniquely-designed electrically-powered power sluice that has a slick plate and 2 separator tray that form the column that is used to separate the gold from the slurry and other particulate matter.

It comes with its set-up kit, including a strong sluice stand; and is powered by a 12-volt, high-capacity 1100gph water pump.


Best Sluice Box Buyer’s Guide

What is a sluice box?

The sluice box is a placer mining equipment used for gold prospecting.

Placer mining describes process of extracting minerals from their alluvial (stream bed) deposits.

Construction-wise, the sluice box is basically a man-made micro-river system that separates and allows dense materials, especially black sand and gold, to sediment out of a relatively rapid river current.

The controlled micro-river environment created by this equipment allows for fine gold dust to sediment out of the flowing water.

For this reason, the sluice box is also described as a fine-gold recovery equipment.

Likewise, it is also described as a separator device as it allows for gold to be separated from the sediment obtained from the river water.

Even though placer mining focuses on extraction of precious metals from alluvial deposits, some modern sluice boxes are portable and have a water re-circulation system, which utilize transported water, to allow for placer mining in desert areas.

A little bit of history

During the 1940s, sluice boxes were built on the mining site using logs and heavy timber planks.

However, as these gold deposits depleted and the price of timber rose rapidly, in addition to introduction of cheap construction materials, mainly aluminum sheets; the design of sluice boxes changed.

Cheaper construction materials were used to build equipment that could be carried to far-off areas where prospectors could try to find new gold deposits.

The modern day sluice box

Modern-day sluice boxes still use flowing water to facilitate gold extraction from particulate deposits.

Furthermore, improvement in techniques of gold prospecting along with technological innovations have allowed for the construction of gas-powered and electrically-powered sluice boxes.

These are collectively designated as power sluices (also called hibankers or highbankers).

These power sluices uses water pumps to force (tanked) water to flow through the sluice boxes in a controlled flow that mimics natural water flow in rivers.

The different types of sluice box

Sluice boxes can be categorized based on their operations into 2 broad groups, mechanical (ordinary) sluice boxes and power sluices.

The sluice box is an easy-to-setup and use equipment that uses physical laws and the force of gravity to sluice for gold from flowing water.

Most lack any moving part, which makes them easy to maintain.

The construction design of the sluice box, which is described below, is the key factor that allows physical laws to allow for gold sluicing.

This design is purposely conceived to ensure that gold mining can be achieved using only the physical properties of this precious metal along with the mechanical force of flowing water.


The key components of a gold mining sluice box

The sluice box is made up of the following key parts.

The open box tray

To begin with, there is the open-box tray, which can be made from either aluminum metal or high-quality plastic so as to keep its weight to the minimum.

The top of this box tray is constructed into a wide flare which gently narrows down to a section with a uniform width, the body. This gives the tray a Y-like shape.

The junction between the wide flare top and the uniform-width body can be hinged to allow the flare to be raised up in relation to the tray body so that the speed of the water flow can be increased, or to allow water to flow downstream across the metallic riffles without creating unnecessary turbulence in the water current.

Inspection and collection mats

At the body-flare junction, a mat is placed on the body. This mat can be a V-mat or a ribbed mat, and it allows the prospector to inspect for gold in a deposit as very small gold deposits can attach themselves to the mat, and these visible gold sediments indicate that the deposit does indeed contain gold.

Another mat is placed on the farthest end of the tray body, where water exits the sluice box, and if there is gold deposits on this mat, then it indicates that the box is faulty as sedimented gold cannot be held in place within the body tray.

Therefore, this second mat should be free of any gold material.

The minors moss

Between the first and second mats is placed a long carpet, usually called a miners moss, which resembles the normal kitchen scouring pad in consistency.

This carpet allows very fine gold particles to filter through and settle on the body tray, while the slightly large gold dust are trapped in the fabric of the carpet.

This carpet can be ribbed to increase its surface area as well as enhance its efficiency in trapping and sieving gold particles.

The mesh plate

On top of the miners moss is placed a meshed metal plate called an expanded metal.

The large holes in this mesh trap large particles that have sedimented from the water, and the speed of water flow through these trapped particles is less that the water speed above the particles.

This reduced water speed gives enough time for fine gold particles to sediment, as well as allows for some gold particles to attack to the large trapped particles.

The expanded metal can cover the entire carpet, or it can leave the front end of the carpet (near the flare-body junction) bare. In some models, the expanded metal is permanently welded to the body tray.

The riffles

On top of the expanded metal is placed a series of evenly spaced metal plate-bars called riffles.

Most of these riffles are electroplated with a corrosion-resistant material to make them rust-resistant as well as improve the overall appearance of the sluice box. In some models, the riffles use latches to hold onto the body tray.


Using the sluice box for gold prospecting

The sluice box uses the force of gravity and controlled water flow to enhance the sedimentation of particles suspended in the water current.

To start off, the mechanical sluice box must be placed at a location in the river where water flows rapidly, yet smoothly (without turbulence).

The miner must therefore choose clear rapidly-flowing water as white rapidly-flowing water indicates large turbulence in the water currents.

The sluice is then placed on this location at a water depth which allows only the top edges of the tray to be above-the-water-level.

Usually, the top end is inclined so as to raise it higher than the bottom (water-exit) end. This incline is used to control the flow speed.

Then, the alluvial deposit is scooped and placed on the wide flare, where the water currents quickly break it down and washes it down the sluice box as a suspension. From the wide flare, the water is funneled into the tight space of the body tray.

The importance of water flow rate

The mineral deposits are suspended in the water, and this suspension flows with the water.

These deposits can remain in suspension in rapid flowing water, but if the speed of the water flow is slowed down, the suspended participles start to fall down as the force of gravity exceeds the laminar flow force that keeps them in suspension.

The sluice box is used to regulate the flow speed to ensure that non-turbulent water flows at a controlled rate through the equipment.

This flow rate is adjusted to to allow for maximum sedimentation of black sand and gold from the water current.

Filtration of the mineral deposits

As water is funneled from the flared top end into the body tray, it first flows over the primary mat and it can trap some gold particles.

This water then flows to the riffled body tray where large gold particles are caught by the riffles as the water flow creates ebbs and vortex which cause heavy particles to be trapped by the riffles as the lighter particles flow over the first set of riffles.

As the water becomes more turbulent as it passes successive riffles, the resulting ebbs and vortex in the water flow cause particles to be trapped by the riffles downstream. Therefore the more the riffles a sluice box has, the better.

Extraction of waste product

The trapped particles also reduce the speed of water flowing through them hence allowing for sedimentation of fine and light particles which can fall through the expanded metal and be trapped by the carpet or be sieved through the carpet to rest of the body tray.

After the right amount of deposit has been passed through the sluice box, that is processed; the box is removed from the river and emptied of the collected sediment.

Afterwards, it is cleaned up in readiness for future sluicing.


Image credits: WDITTK, Youtube.com