June 19, 2020

Can you make a Living Metal Detecting

Can you make a Living Metal Detecting

On this week’s show I discuss if you can make a living metal detecting and we have our regular tech time out where I talk about Sensitivity and of course some news from the world of metal detecting and treasure hunting. 

So!!! if you want to enhance your metal detecting knowledge and take your treasure hunting to the next level subscribe and listen in to the metal detecting show. 

Show Notes:

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Hey Welcome to the metal detecting show Episode number 13. My name is Ciaran and I have been metal detecting for the last 30 years and during this week’s show I discuss if you can make a living metal detecting and we have our regular tech time out where I talk about Sensitivity 

and of course some news from the world of metal detecting and treasure hunting. So!!! if you want to enhance your metal detecting knowledge and take your treasure hunting to the next level subscribe and listen in to the metal detecting show.



Hey! Thank you for taking the time to listen to my podcast were steadily growing week on week and obviously I hope to continue this growth far into the future. If you want to give me feedback or interact with the show please reach out to me on twitter @detectingthe or instagram @themetaldetectingpodcast or If you want to pop me an email to ciaran@themetaldetectingshow.com

If you like the show don’t forget to subscribe on whatever app you get your podcasts from. If your metal detecting club is having an event and you want to promote it hit me up, I'll be glad to give you a shout out.


Normally before I get on to my main topic I would discuss my adventures in metal detecting from the previous week but I'm afraid my intentions have been washed out with rain and thunder storms and as any aware detectorist would know your metal detector coil is essentially an aerial and swinging that about on a beach our field when thunderstorms are expected is madness.

So the main topic of this week’s show is probably the most asked question on the internet about metal detecting and that is.

Can you make a living metal detecting?

The short answer here is it depends! it depends on a lot of factors such as what is your definition of a living? Where do you live. How many hours are you going to commit to it.  Can you travel and are you only going to sell on your finds or are you're going to add some value to your finds.

Ill attempt to break it down so really this is a how long is a piece of string question and ill make an attempt here to cover all facts now remember I'm not an expert so if im leaving anything out or if anything I'm saying makes no sense make sure to let me know. 

So lets start with what constitutes a living or what are we aiming for day on day so for this example I will use 10 dollars an hour as 10 dollars an hour is about the average minimum wage across the western world. So, taking 10 dollars an hour and assuming a 39-hour work week we have an expectation of 390 dollars a week or 1560 dollars a month or 18720 dollars per year. So, this is our target for a living will use 18 and a half thousand from now on to make it easier.

So Can you make 18 and a half K a year just metal detecting well if you work at gold prospecting with a metal detector in the gold fields around the world for 39 hours a week each and every week I would think this is an easy target. You would be talking about finding 11 Troy ounces or 342 grams of Gold to make your target gold field prospecting.

However when people ask this question I don't think they are referring to an ideal situation or location like the gold fields of Australia. I suspect they are asking can a general joe make this target. 

Now anybody who has detected will be going you can get lucky and find a find of a life time and meet your target in one hunt which has happened in the past but is very unlikely so I'm not going to refer to any situation that requires a lot of luck here.  

But Assuming that the majority of finds will be made up of scrap and modern coinage we can use a few averages to make some assumptions. For example, it's safe to say if you go to a park or a beach that you could make an avg of $2.50 / hour sometimes it’ll be more but sometimes it'll be less but i think a low estimation of $2.50 is sensible here. So, extrapolating that out for e a year will bring you to just over 5 thousand dollars 5070 dollars to be exact. So were on our way with 5K in our pocket but remember that scrap and we find a lot of scrap but lets say considering the average kg  price of scrap Copper, Brass, steel, lead and Aluminium to be $1.63 and lets assume considering copper brass and Lead are quiet heavy you find 5kgs per day again extrapolating that out to a full year again gives us another 2119 dollars in scrap value bringing our total to 7 thousand 1 hundreds and eighty nine dollars ($7189) so as a based of just scrap and modern coinage We are along way off the 18 and a half K here. 

Now this is biased towards an average site but let's say you have access to a very popular beach or an old park that both will have a certain amount of finds with intrinsic value such as gold and silver jewellery or silver coins. I would think based on 39 hour week detecting you find an average of gold ring once a week and 3 silver quarters a week is pretty conservative so

Doing the sums based on the scrap value of 18k gold gives us an extra $100 per week for the jewellery which equate to another 5200 dollars bringing our total to $12319 now adding 156 silver coins lets base this on the US quarter weighing in at 6.25 grams and containing 90% silver averaging at $3 per coin value giving us a 468 dollars to add to our pile. Bring our total to 12943 dollars. 

Still a long way away from our target and i would say right now based on using scrap prices it would be very hard job to make enough finds to make the 18 and a half K without adding value to your finds.

So How could you add value to your finds to get you closer to that living wage target. Actually, the easiest thing you could do is adjust how you are selling your finds. 

For example, you could re melt your lead into fishing weight moulds and make three times the lead value. 

I myself have been given a present in the past of a decimal 1p coin with my birth year on it and guess how much they paid for it 8 bucks and all it was a shiny penny in a box. 

Unclaimed Jewellery can be cleaned and resold at significantly more value than the scrap value 

Look at how much civil war bullets go for online for example on eBay you can buy a civil war bullet from any price between 5 bucks to 50 bucks. 

Throw a few phones in there and it's open season.

So, with metal detecting your creating a lot of inventory that you can sell on eventually well above the scrap value. Making that target of 18 and a half K very obtainable.

Another aspect to consider in generating revenue with metal detecting is in services that can be offers such as ring recovery.  I would expect that someone who has lost a valuable or sentimental ring or object would be quite happy to call a number and have a guy come out at an hourly rate to find the ring. 

The issue with selling your finds or offering a service is that at this stage it's no longer a hobby but it's a job and you can't afford to have emotional attachment to your finds or a collection because at some stage you will need to sell that collection just to make ends meet.

So, to answer the question 

Can you make a living metal detecting I would have to say yes it's very possible if you live near a beach or park that has a high enough turnover of people, people enough to replenish your sites every year and little to no metal detecting competition from other metal detectorist. 

However, it would be a hard life and you would get sick of it pretty quickly turning the hobby you love into a job with no health insurance or dental all hinged on whether your fit and well to get out there. 

Would I do it absolutely not but ask me again when I retire.

UP next on thins weeks tech time out i talk about Sensitivity.


Time for this week’s Tech Time out and this week i tell you about Sensitivity and im not talking about how we should take time to slow down and smell the flowers I'm referring to your metal detectors sensitivity.

Sensitivity one of the most abused and least understood of metal detector features.

What is the definition of Sensitivity is the measure of a detectors ability to detect an object of a specific size.

How often have you done the following your detecting away but you're not hitting any good targets and you say to yourself the coins must be deeper and you adjust your sensitivity thinking that it will increase your depth only to start digging smaller and smaller finds. 

What if I told you that the effect sensitivity has on your detectors detection depth ability is negligible and not even worth considering.

What you are adjusting when you adjust your sensitivity is essentially the size of the object you can detect a detector on full sensitivity will detect very small objects such as little bits of foil and canslaw while on half sensitivity the detector will detect only larger objects without picking up those little pieces. Now you might want those little pieces especially if your gold prospecting for small gold nuggets.

You natural inclination would be to have your sensitivity up full blast however if your sensitivity is too high you can as i said before detect minute particles of metal in the ground which you will waste time digging, you will create a lot of distracting noise with a constant array of erratic blips and bongs going off as your detector is picking up mineralization in the ground.

Also, again if your sensitivity is too high it can cause your detector to be affected by several environmental conditions such as powerline and mobile cell phone towers. 

The only good thing about having your sensitivity up to high is that when you do swing over a good target your detector will nearly blow the head off you as your good targets will become very obvious.

What about if you go too low with sensitivity well all that will happen here is that your will notice that your smaller finds are closer to the surface and your larger finds are deeper in the ground so if you find that every deep hole is giving you a larger find and i mean larger than a quarter or pound euro coin in Europe here then you may want to adjust your sensitivity up. 

Something to consider here is that Sensitivity is affected by the cross sectional area of the object so if the object is long and thin it might not be detected depending on the object aspect to the ground.

So how do you use Sensitivity well thankfully a lot of newer metal detectors have auto sensitivity which adjusts continuously on the fly adjusting as it reads in minerizsation and environmental interference however if you have a detector that requires manual intervention for sensitivity you first adjust your sensitivityto the MAX then slowly adjust down till you can no longer hear any chatter. 

Other points of note regarding Sensitivity Is that it can have an effect on Discrimination and the stability of your detector say you have set your detector to discriminate out small iron however during a hunt you adjust sensitivity too high you will negate the discrimination setting so that small iron finds will come through. 

As you can see adjusting your sensitivity is a tight rope walk between a balanced machine or an unstable machine i know which i would prefer.

Up next the news and views from the world of metal detecting.


Ok News this week and if you filer out all the forrest Fenn stories you can see that magnet fishing is fastly becoming an extreme sport with seprarate hedlines that read.

Bomb squad rushed to Hull home after shocking East Park find


Controlled explosion needed after hand grenade found in Brayford


Bag of bones found in River Soar


Criminal complaint details murder of man found dead at Southeast Park


These are just head lines from the last 3 days between Murder Weapons and Bombs I think Magnet Fishing is fast becoming an extreme Sport. Lets campaign to have it in the X games in 2021.

Other News

And another headline to give you shivers anytime i see a headline like this I think of the Detectorist the Series “‘Touching history’ -beginner metal detectorist on 1,000-year-old treasure discovery” 

A beginner metal detectorist has spoken of her excitement at being able to “touch history” when discovering two 1,000-year-old Saxon pieces



And finally in the BBC NEWS online

Star Wars and Bond actor Rufus Wright's wedding ring found by Frinton detectorist

After a social media plea A wedding ring lost by a Star Wars and James Bond actor on a beach has been found by a metal detectorist Adam Ferguson



And that it for this weeks news round up





Wrap Up 

Ok I hope you liked this episode of the metal detecting show podcast 

Follow us on twitter @detectingthe or instagram @themetaldetectingpodcast If you want to contribute or have suggestions for topics to cover pop us an email to ciaran@themetaldetectingshow.com 

Don’t forget to check our website www.the metaldetectingshow.com for this episodes show notes.

Check out our Patreon page if you want to help the podcast stay alive or just want to buy me a coffee. Just search for the metal detecting show 


Once again, I hope you have enjoyed this episode and we will chat to you all again next week. 

Get out there and Happy Hunting.