Metal detectors are an awesome tool, especially once you learn how to “tune it in” to the environment your searching. One of the first things you find is about aluminum in the ground and the importance of setting your machine to find it – or not. So, will a metal detector find aluminum?
Suppose you’re using metal detectors for specific tasks, such as mining and treasure hunting. In that case, you might be more particular about the types of metals they can detect. So, what makes the detection of aluminum so significant in the metal detection industry?
The short answer is yes – metal detectors can detect aluminum, but only if you can adjust them to the correct settings. More specifically, you’ll need a metal detector with adaptable conductivity sensors.
Why Detecting Aluminum Can Be Tricky
Once you set up the metal detector to detect aluminum, your future issues won’t be about being unable to detect any. Instead, it would be about detecting too much.
It is because aluminum is everywhere – from your kitchenware to cans to packaging. Especially if it’s your first time using a metal detector, it would be disappointing to hear it beep only to find pieces of scraps.
Unless you’re exclusively looking for aluminum pieces, a metal detector customized to detect aluminum can be overwhelming to use.
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Before going in-depth into the science of metal detection in aluminum, it is essential to understand how metal detectors work.
Metal detectors comprise of several pieces capable of perceiving an element’s magnetic field. Metal detectors use electromagnetism to detect metals in two ways: passive and active detection.
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Passive detection measures fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by the detected material. Due to their high magnetic thresholds, this method works best in ferrous materials made of cast iron or carbon steel. These translate to high conductivity, which allows them to be detected by any metal detector.
On the other hand, the active detection method is ideal for non-ferrous metals such as gold, silver, zinc, brass, and aluminum. Action detection works by generating a time-varying magnetic field either in the archway of a walkthrough metal detector or in the space near a handheld one. The magnetic field helps further to identify an object’s amount of non-ferrous metals.
Based on the explanations above, it’s safe to say that passive detection is more common than active detection. It is why to be able to detect non-ferrous metals such as aluminum. You’ll need to do some configurations in the oscillations of the coils of your metal detector.
You can do such configurations by adding an extra accessory to a conventional metal detector. By having a cover placed within the coil area, the metal detector can redirect its search waves down to specific materials, such as aluminum.
However, more modern metal detectors have included specifying the type of metal you want to find. It is made possible by the use of photocell sensors that you can modify according to pressure or proximity. (Source)
No matter how sophisticated your metal detector is, external factors can primarily affect its performance. Three factors affect the ability of metal detectors in aluminum detection – soil composition, temperature, and density.
Compared to coarse sand, clay soil has better conductivity. It indicates the presence of aluminum.
Metal detectors designed to detect aluminum can detect one at a minimum depth of 3 feet. Higher-end models can go as deep as 10 to 15 feet. (Source)
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Metals tend to expand when heated and contract when cooled. Compared to most metals, aluminum contracts much more at lower temperatures. More specifically, temperatures below -300°C (-184°F).
The recommended frequency range for metal detectors to detect aluminum is between 4 and 8 kHz. However, the exact frequency will vary depending on your metal detector. (Source)
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As a general rule, the bigger and denser a metal is, its magnetic field will be stronger. It means that the higher t concentration of aluminum there is, the more likely it will be detected. However, remember that high concentrations of minerals with iron oxide or magnetite can give false signals for aluminum. (Source)
Working with metal detectors is not as difficult as it seems.
Suppose you own an old-fashioned metal detector that lacks customization features. In that case, you can just set it to look for relics. If you have a more conventional metal detector, note that most metal detectors today come with three to five settings. You can modify the settings depending on the type of metal you want to find.
Using the individual settings, you can quickly identify the type of metals you’re detecting without having to sift through each.
Do Metal Detectors Detect Aluminum Foil?
There’s an ongoing rumor that using aluminum foil can block metal detectors.
To make the aluminum foil, manufacturers take a huge aluminum block and make it pass through enormous rollers multiple times until it reaches the desired thickness. The thickness of aluminum foil usually ranges between 0.1 to 0.2 millimeters. (Source)
Depending on the quantity of aluminum foil used, metal detectors can still detect them. It is especially true if the aluminum foil is 99% pure aluminum. After all, aluminum foil is technically aluminum.
Focusing on detecting aluminum won’t help you find anything rare. However, companies usually pay a decent amount of money in exchange for aluminum found in electronics, bike parts, tokens, and more. These aluminum scraps are then melted down, recycled, and reused.
With many metal detectors available in the market, how do you find one with adjustable settings for detecting aluminum?
While a standard, full-sized metal detector certainly does the job, handheld airport metal detectors are just as good. It is because the latter typically have higher detection rates for non-ferrous metals like aluminum than other metals. However, their small and compact nature makes them less ideal for rigorous outdoor metal detection.
Ensure you find a model that can resist various environmental factors such as air, water, and high amounts of minerals. It is because specific environmental “contaminants” can lead to false metal detections.
The pricing of metal detectors that can detect aluminum usually ranges between 700 to 100 USD, depending on their specifications. (Source)
It all comes down to the types of metals you’re seeking. Focusing on aluminum is not an ideal choice if you’re looking for valuables. However, if you’re looking for the right metal type that you can melt and reuse, then aluminum is the one for you.
Suppose you’re looking for specific metals for mining, treasure hunting, junk shop business, or other purposes. In that case, you should consider investing in a high-quality metal detector. Thanks to today’s technology, metal detectors have evolved to identify specific types of metals efficiently.
Whether you want to avoid detecting aluminum materials or look for some, it would be a relief that the answer to “do metal detectors detect aluminum?” is in your favor.
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- Smgadmin, “Metal Detectors to Find Aluminum”, Detector Power, November 14, 2019. Accessed August 24, 2022. https://detectorpower.com/blogs/news/metal-detectors-to-find-aluminum/
- David Humphries, “Will Metal Detectors Detect Copper? We Find Out!”, Metal Detecting Tips and River Traditions LLC, n.d. Accessed August 24, 2022. https://metaldetectingtips.com/will-metal-detectors-detect-copper/
- Detecting School, “Do Metal Detectors Detect Aluminum?”, Detecting School, n.d. Accessed August 24, 2022. https://detectingschool.com/do-metal-detectors-detect-aluminum/
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- The Prospectors Patch, “Prospecting 101: Can a Metal Detector Find Aluminium? What to Know”, The Prospectors Patch, March 4, 2022, n.d. Accessed August 24, 2022. https://www.prospectorspatch.com.au/prospecting-101-can-a-metal-detector-find-aluminium-what-to-know/
- Encyclopedia.com, “Metal Detectors”, Encyclopedia.com, May 14, 2018. Accessed August 24, 2022. https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/psychology/psychology-and-psychiatry/metal-detectors
- US Department of Homeland Security, “Metal Detectors for Personnel Screening,” System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (July 2009): 1-2.