A Beginner’s Guide to Metal Detecting

One of the most interesting hobbies is metal detecting. It’s interesting, as well as very rewarding once you find something very valuable. To start this hobby, you need a reliable and durable metal detector, a good pair of headphones, small digging tools, outdoor protective gear, and a lot of patience.

The metal detector

The metal detector is an important piece of equipment in prospecting and metal detecting. There are three types of metal detectors currently available in the market:

  • Land metal detector – land detectors are best suited for land. These are not waterproof but have impressive capabilities in detecting metal deep into the ground. Land detectors are the most common type of metal detectors and are also the easiest to use. You can detect and find gold, silver, iron, aluminum, and lead using a land metal detector.
  • Beach or underwater metal detector – beach or underwater detectors come with waterproof or submersible coils and can detect metals and treasure up to a certain depth in water. There are level-entry underwater metal detectors and there are also professional-type detectors.
  • Gold detectors – gold detectors are the most sophisticated and are very expensive. These are mostly used by professional prospectors and may be used on land and in water.

The type of metal detector that’s right for you depends on your needs as a user. If you’re looking for treasure and relics mostly on land then a land metal detector is the best choice. If you’re mostly looking for gold treasure and relics then, invest in good quality, professional gold prospecting equipment.

Metal detecting accessories

You need a reliable headphone set to connect to your metal detector. Choose one with noise-canceling features so you can listen intently even in a noisy or busy area like the beach or the park. Another important accessory is a search coil cover, to cover the coil and keep it clean while you work. A dirty coil will not be as efficient as a clean one in detecting metals. Also, a coil cover protects the coil against dents and scratches which can affect its performance.

You also need proper protective gear as you use a metal detector. You must wear a hat or cap when you search. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to avoid mosquito bites. Stay hydrated as you will likely spend a lot of hours under the sun.

When the time comes that your metal detector has found something, you need to clear the area and dig for it. You must use a small tool like a hand shovel to carefully clear the area of grass, pebbles, stones, and dirt. A pinpointer can also help; this is a device that pinpoints to the valuable items as soon as you find them. This tool lets you find the treasure fast and points to the item quickly so you can retrieve it carefully.

Where to start searching?

Remember that in some regions and countries, it is illegal to use a metal detector, unless, you seek permission to use it.  For example, you can ask permission from school authorities to use your metal detector on the property. You cannot just use your detector in an open lot, at the beach, in the park, or a national park without seeking any permission.

Always check historical data or any information that will lead you to a good site. Beaches and parks are great places to search but these areas have likely been over-searched. You will have the best luck in private lands and lots where no one has ever searched before.

If you find any treasure, you should report it to the property owner. You may strike a deal with the property owner regarding the treasure or you may donate it to a museum or community center.

All metal detecting hobbyists swear to a code that anything that they disturb (soil, plant, structure, etc.) should be returned to their previous state. Do not leave holes and trash in the area.

What if you find something? Be it a coin, relic, or jewelry, never clean it. Just carefully retrieve it and place it in a small cloth bag. Do not attempt to scrub it or apply any chemical to clean it. Doing so will only affect the treasure’s state. Also, your find will lose its value.

How to use a metal detector

Despite the differences in size, shape, and form, metal detectors have similar features. All metal detectors have a long stem, a handle, a search coil, and the main engine.

Most engines come with an LCD screen so you can check the status of the object (depth and the type of item) plus the mode you’re in. A loud beeping sound is heard from the engine which means that the object is nearby.

There are other features specific to a particular metal detector brand. Most detectors are ergonomically designed to keep your arms and hands comfortable as you use the detector for longer hours.

A metal detector is a highly-specialized piece of equipment. Use it well and surely, you’ll be greatly rewarded. 

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