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Simple DIY sink clay trap


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I thought I’d share a trick I picked up for separating mud from water while running a recirculating power sluice looking for gold. The same system seems to work well for the sink drain in my studio, it works off of some simple hydraulics and siphons water from tank to tank giving the heavy particles time to settle before exiting the tanks.


I used three 5gal trash bins and connected them using 2” ABS, each connector was made from one 2” U joint, two 2” elbow and two 8” long nipples. The drain is one 2” ABS adaptor and a 2” sink drain gasket and one 24” long ABS nipple, everything glued with medium ABS cement. The elbow on the bottom allows you to fill the tubes and submerse them into the tanks while maintaining the siphon in the connecting tubes. Total cost for everything from Home Depot was under $50 and build time under an hour.


The system easily handles the volume of the water as it drains directly down into the first bin and when the bin is at capacity with solids it is simple to remove, empty and replace. The design allows infinite number of settling bins and any size and shape of container pretty much can be adapted to work, so I think this could be made from a variety of free parts.


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So, by keeping the openings of the u-tubes well below the level of the drain opening you are able to maintain the siphon action and retain the water in the u-tubes... I like the idea for an outdoor sink, but it obviously won't work with indoor plumbing...Thanks!

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Siphoning  off the bottom reduces the effectiveness a bit. Think about dropping the fluid in low (Dip tube)  and Discharging high to be dropped in again low and discharged high again. Clay is so fine that you are trying to reduce the water velocity as much as practical to settle out the finest particles. Discharging from a small diameter pipe into a large diameter bucket is key to reducing the velocity.

Right now you do not need the siphon pickup action, the water will exit at top level on its own. I suspect your first bucket is higher than the second and second higher than the third else the bucket overflows before establishing siphon action.

a simple single basin with connections at the top is likely as effective for the studio and is usually built using a bucket from your local hardware, a sealing top, some 1-1/4” fittings and some vacuum hose.  These can be hard piped but most folks opt for the plug in vacuum hose for serviceability. The bucket needs to be lower than the  sewer pipe that serves your sink drain, which usually means a 2-1/2 gallon bucket. Cost, probably 30.00 and reusable after clean out. These can be daisy chained as well to double or triple separate. Oh trap  can remain on your sink to ensure no sewer gas.

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I was amazed how well this worked when I saw a guy using it moving water between tubs, some ancient technique for watering crops or something like that .  JohnnyK is right and this isn’t for everyone and if I was concerned about an accidental overflow I would drop the whole thing down into a water tight box and add a p trap at the end. I’m using it inside my studio this way for now and my clay water is diverted outside into the garden and waters the hedges so the traps not needed.  The water level between the first and second tanks stays very close and the third tank is slightly lower. I think the large diameter pipe has little friction loss at this volume so the siphon action with atmospheric pressure keeps it fairly level. The tubes are 4 or 5 inches off the bottom so I think it will hold at least a gallon or two of sediment.



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13 minutes ago, Fred Sweet said:

Ah, but gold particles have more mass (think weight) than clay particles and drop out of the suspension quickly. Whereas, the fine clay particles need a “slow flow” to separate. Just something else to consider.



Lol, if only my dirt had enough gold where that was a factor and actually the golds never supposed to get that far as the settling tanks are only for the soil/clay suspended in the water when the waters to dirty the fine gold won’t settle fast enough in the sluice and then it will be lost in the tailings.

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