Can Metal Detectors Detect Gold?


Are you interested in finding gold with a metal detector as a hobby or as a potential source of income? Either way, using a metal detector to find gold can be a thrilling and rewarding experience. However, it’s important to keep in mind that finding gold with a metal detector is not as easy as it may seem and requires a lot of patience, persistence, and knowledge.

Metal detectors can detect gold because gold is a metal. Pure gold is a very conductive metal. To increase your chances of detecting gold, you’ll need a metal detector that is specifically designed for finding gold.

These metal detectors operate at a higher frequency which allows them to better detect the small particles of gold that are often found in placer deposits (deposits of loose material that have been left behind by rivers and streams). Placer deposits are a good place to start, as they often contain small flakes and nuggets of gold. You can also search in areas that were once home to gold mines, as there is often gold left behind in these areas.

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Tips and Strategies for Finding Gold with a Metal Detector

Metal detecting for gold requires some special knowledge, patience, a good gold metal detector, and some decent research.

Choose the right metal detector:

Not all metal detectors are created equal, and some are better suited for finding gold than others. Look for a metal detector with a high frequency and good sensitivity, as these features can help you locate small pieces of gold that may be buried deep in the ground.

Research the area:

Before you start searching for gold, it’s important to do some research on the area you plan to search. Look for areas that have a history of gold mining or prospecting, as these are likely to be the most promising areas to search. You should also consider the geology of the area and look for signs of gold, such as quartz veins or other indicators of gold-bearing rocks.

Use the right search techniques:

When searching for gold with a metal detector, it’s important to use the right search techniques to maximize your chances of success.

Dig carefully:

Once you’ve located a signal with your metal detector, it’s important to dig carefully to avoid damaging any potential gold nuggets. Use a small shovel or trowel to carefully excavate the area and be sure to check the soil for any signs of gold. Once you have located the metal, it’s time to dig.

Once you’ve dug down to the metal, gently use a pair of tweezers to gently lift it out of the ground.

Keep track of your finds:

As you search for gold, it’s important to keep track of where you’ve found it and the amount you’ve found. This can help you to identify areas that are more promising for gold and can also be useful if you decide to sell your gold at a later date. Here’s a handy logbook to help with this.

Research the best metal detectors for finding gold

Gold is a highly conductive metal, so you’ll want a metal detector that is sensitive to this type of metal. Decent gold-finding metal detectors are expensive, though. Some good options include the Minelab GPX 5000, and the Fisher Gold Bug Pro. I’ve included two other recommendations at the end of the article for you.

Learn about the different types of gold you can find

There are different types of gold that you can find with a metal detector, including nuggets, flakes, and gold dust. Nuggets are the largest and easiest to spot, while flakes and gold dust can be harder to spot and require more careful searching.

gold flakes and nuggets

Choose a good location to search

Where can you find gold? Gold can be found in a variety of locations, including near rivers, streams, and old mining areas. Look for areas with a history of gold mining or prospecting, as these areas are more likely to have gold deposits. These areas may include old mines or even ghost towns.

Some of the best places in the United States for gold metal detecting include:

  • California
  • Idaho
  • Georgia
  • Colorado
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Tennessee
  • Alaska
  • Oregon

Places more likely to contain gold:

  • Look for the river bends and gravel bars. These make good collecting points for small flakes of gold traveling with the current. They can get caught on the gravel as well as fall out of the current on the inside of the river bend.
    • The same effect of slowing down occurs when flowing water reaches the end of a downslope.
  • Depressions, cracks, or holes in larger rocks where water changes speed as it flows by.
  • Plant roots near the river can act like a filter, slowing the water flow and allowing the gold flakes to drop down.

Laws and regulations about gold metal detecting

Always follow the laws and regulations in your area when searching for gold with a metal detector. In some cases, you may need a permit to search for gold on certain lands, and it’s important to respect the rights of property owners and keep yourself out of legal trouble.

Use the right search techniques

When searching for gold with a metal detector, it’s important to sweep the detector slowly and methodically over the ground. Use a back-and-forth motion, covering the ground thoroughly. Begin by sweeping the metal detector back and forth in a straight line, overlapping each pass by about 50%.

You can also start with a wide search pattern and gradually narrow it down, using a slow and steady sweep speed. This will ensure that you cover the entire area thoroughly.

If you get a signal, use the metal detector’s pinpoint function to zero in on the location of the metal or use a regular pinpointer.

Learn how to interpret your metal detector’s signals

Metal detectors may or may not give off different signals when they detect gold. It’s important to learn how to interpret any signals so you know when you’ve found something worth digging for.

Each signal could indicate a different type of metal and by learning to interpret these signals, you may be able to tell the difference between gold and other metals. Maybe…

PRO TIP: “Dig Everything” – meaning despite all the fancy electronics and displays, gold and other metals can sound exactly the same:

Practice patience

Finding gold with a metal detector can be a slow and tedious process. It’s important to stay focused and keep searching even if you don’t find anything right away. With time and practice, you’ll improve your skills and become more successful at finding gold.

Best Metal Detector to Find Gold (VLF or Pulse Induction (PI))

There are two metal detector technologies available to us: Very Low Frequency (VLF) and Pulse Induction (PI) and either one is useful for finding gold.

If you choose VLF technology, look for one with a frequency greater than 15 kHz, and some gold detectors operate up to around 40 kHz. If the operating frequency is too low, your detector may not be sensitive enough to pick up small gold nuggets.

Choosing PI technology affords you better gold-hunting performance in heavily mineralized ground, though these detectors are generally more expensive.

Examples of higher-end metal detector technologies in different products

Mid-priced gold metal detector:


Finding gold with a metal detector can be a challenging but rewarding hobby. By choosing the right metal detector, doing your research, using the right search techniques, and keeping track of your finds, you can increase your chances of success and potentially discover some valuable gold nuggets.

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