How to Use a Metal Detector: Complete Step-by-Step Guideline

A metal detector is an instrument which detects metals. A metal detector is mostly used for security purposes but nowadays a lot of people use them for fun. There are many varieties of metal detectors.

Some are very cheap, some are too much expensive, some are old- fashioned, some have many sensors. Depending on its usage, you need to find a metal detector suitable for your taste.

If you are an amateur, the better option will be if you use an easy one because some metal detector can be quite tricky.

If you want to buy a metal detector you should do your research about what kind of metal detector you should buy. You should also listen to what experts have to say.

But at the end of the day, it depends on why you want to buy a metal detector in the first place. If you learn how to use and take care of your metal detector properly it can last a lifetime.

The history of metal detector is quite interesting. In this article, we will learn how metal detectors evolved to what it is today, parts of a metal detector and advantages and disadvantages of a metal detector.

Metal Detector

What is the use of metal detector? To know further we might check the history of metal detector.

The history of metal detectors goes way back. In fact, you might find it surprising. The first metal detector was created for a completely different reason.

The metal detector was first only used for security and mining purposes. The 19th century was the prime time for mining. A lot of towns were being built surrounding mines.

A lot of people were earning money, the economy was booming. But mining is very difficult and labor – intensive and it doesn’t always pay off.

Metals are hidden inside the earth and it was quite difficult to find them. So, at the end of the 19th century, many scientists and engineers were trying to find a way to detect metal.

Early metal detectors were crude, they only worked to a very limited degree. So, they weren’t very useful. But scientists did not give up. In 1874, Parisian inventor Gustave Trouve invented the first working metal detector that could detect bullets inside a person’s body.

When American president James Garfield got shot in 1881, Alexander Graham Bell inspired by Trouve developed a similar device.

Even though the metal detector worked correctly the attempt was unsuccessful because the metal coil spring bed Garfield was lying on confused the detector.

But we can see how with the lack of modern medicine metal detectors were useful in medical cases. So, they helped to save lives. These early inventions helped pave the road to success.

The metal detectors we see today are small and lightweight but the earlier metal detectors were huge and they weren’t accessible to all.

With the beginning of World War I there was a need of a device that could detect metals. There was a lot of landmine and unexploded bombs.

A metal detector would be able to detect these and save lives. Thus began the modern development of modern detector. A guy named Gerhard Fischer was first to patent a metal detector but a businessman from Indiana was first to apply it.

His name was Shirl Herr. After the 1920s the use of metal detectors skyrocketed. Herr assisted Benito Mussolini in recovering remains from Emperor Caligula’s galleys from the bottom of Lake Nemi, Italy.

The metal detector was used in the second Antarctic expedition in 1933. The metal detector was used to locate the objects earlier explorers left behind. But during the World War II the use of metal detectors increased.

Hundreds of metal detectors were sent to battlefields to detect landmines. So, metal detectors initially helped save lives. As the creation and refinement of the metal detector were a wartime military research operation it was kept a secret for many years. But now a metal detector is mostly used for recreation. With time both the configuration and the use of metal detector has changed. Today metal detectors can be found anywhere around the world.

The first time general public began using a metal detector in 1950. By that time a semiconductor named transistor was invented and it helped to make metal detectors a lot smaller in size.

Manufacturers began to experiment with metal detectors to supply the growing demand. Metal detectors are also used in security screening, civil engineering and also for industrial purposes.

A lot of pharmaceutical, textile, food and packaging industries use metal detectors. Archaeologists and treasure hunters began using metal detectors to locate objects like jewelry, coins, weapons and other various artifacts.

But like anything else in the world metal detectors have both advantages and disadvantages. Using metal detectors a lot of people find artifacts and take them home without alerting the authority which have resulted in a loss of historical information.

So, if you want to buy and use a metal detector, use it wisely and responsibly.

Read also: How to clean old coins without devaluing them?

Parts of a Metal Detector

Did you ever think that how do metal detectors work? A metal detector is a very interesting device. If you ever wonder what the working principle of a metal detector is, you should keep reading. A metal detector has many parts.

The parts of a metal detector vary depending on what kind of metal detector it is. Large industrial metal detectors have a lot of parts compared to small typical ones. A typical metal detector consists of a stabilizer, control box, shaft, search coil, a jack and a small display unit.

There are only three technologies which metal detectors use. They are-

  1. Very low frequency (VLF)
  2. Pulse induction (PI)
  3. Beat- frequency oscillation (BFO)

The stabilizer is an optional part. Not all metal detectors have them. The control box contains the circuits, the microprocessor, controls and speakers. So, basically, everything you need to operate a metal detector is inside the control box.

A shaft connects the control box to the coil. And the search coil is the part that senses the metal. These are the basics. A lot of metal detectors have different options. Some metal detectors have a jack to connect headphones.

Depending on the brand and the product you will notice vast differences. But now you know how metal detectors work.

How to Use a Metal Detector

Metal detectors can be quite tricky. If you still don’t know about how to use a metal detector then here are some uses of metal detectors listed below. But first, we are going to know how to use a metal detector.

1. Buy a Metal Detector

The first and obvious thing to do if you want to use a metal detector is to buy a metal detector. There are many different kinds of metal detectors in the market. Some are analog, some are digital.

Some have many sensors and some are very expensive. Based on your budget and how will you use the metal detector you need to choose one for yourself.

If you need a metal detector to find archeological sites then you need to buy a deep seeking metal detector which has a long range because artifacts are usually hidden deep inside the earth.

If you are going to use your metal detector on a beach make sure it’s waterproof. If you are an amateur ask your friends and family for help before purchasing any metal detector. There are a lot of bad products on the market.

So, you need to be careful. Do not buy the first metal detector you see. Compare different brands and types of metal detector to see which one you like better.

2. Gather Some Essential Things

No matter what kind of activity you want to use a metal detector for you, will also need some basic things like- gloves, pinpointer, a shovel or something similar to dig.

You need gloves because gloves will keep your hands safe while you are digging. A pinpointer helps you to locate the exact place the metal is.

Buy a coil protector for your coil. Buy a headphone and connect them to your metal detectors jack so that when you find any metallic object you can hear the beeping clearly. You don’t have to buy these things precisely.

You can add more things if you find them necessary. You can also buy fewer things if you want. The choice is all yours.

3. Learn Your Metal Detectors Settings

All metal detectors are different. So, you need to read your detector’s manual thoroughly. If you can’t understand anything search it online and learn it. But here are some basic features.

Discrimination is a feature that allows you to choose your targets. For example, if you are looking for gold you can ignore iron. It is particularly helpful in heavy trash areas.

Ground balance is another awesome feature that allows you to account for minerals. If you are in a heavy mineral area and your machine won’t stop beeping you can set your detector so that it doesn’t sense a low amount of minerals.

There are a lot of settings like that. So, when you buy your machine read the manual and know your machine. Before going out with your metal detector make sure it works correctly.

4. Find a Good Location

If you are just starting to metal detect then you will need some practice. Public places like beaches, parks and playgrounds are great places to start. You will find many interesting things like jewelry, coins, different parts of toys.

Most hobbyists learn from one another and compare their finds. Make sure you maintain a healthy level of competition and never make things ugly. Abandoned areas and old ruins are great places to find treasures.

If your area is surrounded with old gold mine then buy a metal detector that can detect gold and go near the mines to metal detect.

5. Caution

There are some things to consider while metal detecting. Before buying a metal detector you need to be aware of the rules and regulations of your area. Nowadays you don’t need any license to metal detect but there are still some places where you will need a permit.

Also never metal detect in private property without the owner’s permission. While metal detecting if you find any illegal or dangerous object you need to alert the authority. Otherwise, you will be in trouble.

If you are metal detecting in or near a mine make sure it’s safe as old mines tend to collapse. If you find any historical artifact be responsible and call your local museum or a historian.

Don’t try to remove it by yourself. You will ruin it. It takes a lot of experts to excavate a historical site. There have been many incidents where amateurs ruined historical sites which were valuable and now cannot recover them anymore.

If you abide by the law while metal detecting you have nothing to fear. So, be a responsible citizen and don’t disturb others while you are metal detecting.

6. Search Effectively

Metal detecting might look easy but it is not. There are some technics to it. Don’t put the metal detector directly on the ground.

Put the detector at least six inches or above the ground. As you walk to keep the metal detector in front of you and walk slower than usual.

Sweep the detector back and forth and when you hear a sound stop and search the ground. If it is trash then throw it in the trash can and move forward. But if you cannot see anything above the ground then start digging.

Dig the ground until you find the metal. Once you find it examine it and decide whether it is worth keeping or not. If you are digging in a park or beach or any other public place you need to fill the holes you have dug.

No one wants to see a dug up park or beach. In order to avoid running in a circle walk in a straight line when you are metal detecting. When you are metal detecting walk slower than normal. First search a small area thoroughly then move to another spot.

You have to be very patient while you are metal detecting. Impatience can cost you some valuable objects. But most importantly have fun.

Read also: How to use a metal detector?

How to Take Care of Your Metal Detector

Before you use your metal detector read the manual thoroughly. If you don’t read the manual and use it incorrectly you can ruin the machine.

After you have used the detector put it in a box. If you want to metal detect near beaches make sure your metal detector is waterproof.

Otherwise, your metal detector will be ruined. Buy a coil cover and cover your coil. It is a really good investment. Protect your metal detector from the elements.

If your metal detector gets dirty clean it with a cloth. If you use your metal detector correctly it can last you one lifetime. So, take good care of your metal detector.

Advantages of a Metal Detector

Ever since metal detectors were created they have been extremely helpful. At the beginning, metal detectors were used for medical or mining purposes.

During the World War I metal detectors were used to locate hidden land mines. After it was introduced to the general public the purpose of metal detectors changed. Metal detectors are used in archaeological sites.

A scientific metal detector can pick up little traces of metals which helps to find forgotten cities underground. Metal detecting is a good hobby.

Using metal detectors you can find interesting things like jewelry, toys and coins. It is a great hobby that also ensures exercise. You can explore new places while metal detecting. Metal detectors are also used in security screening.

In airports, malls, concerts where extra security is needed a metal detector is highly useful. Metal detectors can detect if someone is carrying any kind of weapons as most weapons have some sort of metal in them.

Metal detectors are also used in civil engineering. Many craftsmen also use metal detectors. There are many uses of industrial metal detectors. When you mass produce anything it is not uncommon that they get mixed with some unwanted things.

Industrial metal detectors are very sensitive. They can detect tiny amounts of metals. That is why metal detectors are used in food, textile, pharmaceutical, plastic, chemical, mining and packaging industries.

Metal detectors have many uses and advantages. They are used in so many sectors that we don’t even notice them. The first metal detectors could locate a bullet inside a patient. Which helped doctors to save lives.

It gave scientists hope to build medical machines which helped pioneer the modern medicine we know today.

Metal detectors were also used in battlefields. Once it was a wartime secret. So, metal detectors played an important role in history.

Even now metal detectors help to keep us safe in the form of security screening. A metal detector is a must for any treasure hunter. Mining companies nowadays have better technologies but in old days they used metal detectors to find metals.

Many industries rely heavily on metal detectors. As a hobby metal detecting is good fun. It increases your curiosity and makes you exercise. Overall, metal detectors are a great innovation in science.

Disadvantages of a Metal Detector

There is nothing in this world without mixed blessings. A metal detector is no exception. Metal detectors have many advantages but they have some disadvantages too.

Sometimes when people metal detects in a public place they dug the place up and do not fill the holes. This can cause accidents. So, be responsible and fill every hole you have dug. Many amateurs have found historical artifacts and did not alert authorities.

This has led to many historical site’s ruinations. So, if you find something that may have historical value consult with a historian.

When you go to through a metal detector for security purposes the machines beep even if you are wearing jewelry or have loose coins.

This can be irritating sometimes. If you detect metal as a hobby you may know that you don’t always find valuable things but most of the time you just find trash. Since there are metallic objects all around us it is difficult to find a correct reading.

When people detect metal around or in mine to find gold or other valuable metals there always remains a risk of an accident. Abandoned mines have toxic gases which can cause asphyxia. So, be careful if you want to metal detect in a mine.

If metal detectors are not used correctly they can give false readings. Most of the metal detectors can be quite expensive.

If you want to use a metal detector for entertainment or for a professional purpose you have to maintain some rules and regulation. Only then you can have a great experience.

Read also: Are metal detectors safe?


Metal detecting can be fun or a complete waste of time depending on how you view it. But we cannot neglect its importance in our daily life. Since it was first invented the metal detector has been very useful.

From locating bullets in a patient’s body to locate treasures underwater the success of the metal detector is praiseworthy. If you want to know how to use a metal detector you will find this article very helpful.

You will also find interesting facts about the metal detector and how it was invented. You have to be cautious while metal detecting in a public area. Make sure you are not bothering anyone.

Never metal detect in private property without the owner’s permission. Take proper care of your metal detector. Protect it from the elements. After using your metal detector put it in a box. Use your metal detector correctly.

Don’t put it directly on the ground. Don’t lose hope if you don’t find anything on your first try. Keep trying and explore different parts of your city. Do not break any law and if you find anything illegal or dangerous contact the police. But most importantly have fun.

I love all things tech, and I wear many hats – tech lover, business starter, digital marketer, and blogger. I know the ins and outs of Digital Marketing, SEO, SEM, SMM, and how to generate leads. My goal? Making things simple for you with clear guides and reviews. I stumbled upon WordPress while creating my first business site, and I fell in love with it right away. When I’m not building websites, creating content, or boosting clients’ online efforts, I’m focused on staying healthy, hanging out with family, and exploring the world. Connect with me on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, or read my complete biography.

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