Find Keys With Metal Detector

Will A Metal Detector Find Keys? (4 Things You Can Find Too)

One of the most common questions detector owners often ask is will a metal detector find keys. Of course, losing your keys is no doubt an inconvenience. So, having a tool that can help you find it can be a great help.

Fortunately, a metal detector can find keys. Most keys have metal conductors as their base, so a detector can quickly locate them. However, it would help if you had a preliminary idea about the location where you lost them. 

Metal detectors can easily find your lost keys under the snow or even under dry leaves, dirt or sand. There are so many things that this device can locate apart from just keys. (source)

Will A Metal Detector Find Keys? Find Out

At one point, we all probably came back home after a long day and reached for our pockets only to find that we lost our keys. Not only is it frustrating, but it is also a major inconvenience, especially if you need to get inside your home immediately. 

Searching for a lost key can be challenging if you have been to different places in a day. But suppose you suspect that you accidentally dropped it somewhere. In that case, you can use a metal detector to locate it in the area where you suspect it went missing. 

Metal Detecting Tip: Learn about how deep metal detectors detect in this ARTICLE. The size of the item, electromagnetic qualities and orientation all play a factor.

Fortunately, a metal detector can help you during unfortunate situations. Most keys have metal conductors as their base. For this reason, they will react to the electromagnetic waves sent by your metal detector’s search coil.

Regular keys consist of brass as their primary material. Such a metal type has a mixture of zinc and copper, thus producing alloy. Both these metals possess high electric conductivity, making them highly detectable by metal detectors.

Looking for Lost Keys with Metal Detector
Looking for Lost Keys

On the other hand, which is the cheapest not-so-common type of key is also detectable. Finally, silver, which is among the most conductive metals, is the most detectable key material. 

The bottom line is that regardless of the type of metal used to make a key, a metal detector will always be helpful in locating it. So, the answer to will a metal detector find keys is always a yes regardless of the key conditions. (source)

How To Find Lost Keys Using A Metal Detector

It is quite natural to experience a little anxiety once you realize that you lost your keys. However, it would help not let panic take over you as it could only worsen the situation. Becoming overwhelmed with panic is counterproductive and can hinder you from thinking where you last saw your missing key.

Metal Detecting Tips: If you don’t own a detector, guess what? Some shops will rent them. Read how and where to rent metal detectors in this article: Metal Detector Rental (How and Where)

So, instead of panicking, try to calm down and remember the places where you might have gotten your key from your pocket. Once you have an idea where to find it, you can proceed with the following steps.

Ok this might sound silly but, my wife will say a little prayer. It goes like this: “Tony, Tony look around. somethings lost and must be found.” I use this and it calms me down and usually the last place I look is where the keys will be found. 😜

Where to look for keys metal detecting
Where to look for keys metal detecting
  1. Narrow down the search area

It is natural to have a long list of areas to search for your missing keys. But if you look in those areas one by one, you will waste a lot of time and effort. For this reason, the best thing that you can do is to narrow down the search area. 

Now that you already have an answer to “will a metal detector find keys,” the next thing you need to do is to retrace your steps of where you possibly lost your keys. 

To do that, you can:

  • retrace the path that you took when you went home
  • try to remember all the detours that you made
  • think about when you think you lost the key

That said, the ideal thing to do is check your car to see if you dropped your keys there. You can also concentrate so you can remember when you might have lost them. Did you rush home after work? Did you go to other places like a restaurant or the grocery store? Remembering where you went can help you have an idea of where you dropped your keys. 

  1. Make sure that you did not drop the keys anywhere else.

The best place to start finding your keys is to try and remember where you last know you had them in your pocket. That can be at home, in your car, workplace, or even in a grocery store. This way, you will not have to spend so much time dragging your metal detector along grasses only to find that you did not drop your keys there.

  1. Use your metal detector to find the keys

Will a metal detector find keys is already proven to be a yes. For this reason, you can use your device to start finding your keys on the places you suspect you dropped them. 

If you do not have your metal detector, you can look online for people who would allow you to rent their unit for a day. Of course, a metal detector is expensive, so you cannot just decide to purchase one to locate your lost keys. 

You can also look for a hobbyist in your area who will be willing to lend or let you rent their metal detectors until you find your keys. 

Moreover, you should make sure to mark where you already searched for when you are trying to locate your keys. This way, you will not have to go over areas repeatedly. (source)

  1. Sweep your detector one area at a time

Will a metal detector find keys? In some instances, the answer will depend on how you use the detector.

Think of sweeping your metal detector like you are mowing a lawn. Once you are in a particular search area, start sweeping the detector from one side to another while walking. Make sure that the search coil tilts at an approximately 45-degree arc in front of you. 

In addition, the search coil should always be parallel to the ground. About three to four inches is enough in terms of the closeness the coil and the ground should have. Since you are trying to look for a key that fell to the ground, the search coil does not need to be in very close proximity to the ground. (source)

4 Things That Metal Detectors Can Locate

Metal detectors are electronic devices with a large search coil that sends electromagnetic waves into the ground to find metals. Once these EM waves hit metals, those targets will also generate electromagnetic waves, which the detector will receive. That way, this device can locate objects buried in the ground.

Will a metal detector find keys? Definitely. But apart from that, there are many other things that this device can locate under the ground.

Metal Objects

A metal detector can detect all types of metals. It can locate nickel, iron, copper, and even gold nuggets. If you own a general-purpose metal detector, you can use that to find buried items such as coins, jewelry, and relics. 

However, metal detectors can also locate invaluable objects, like nails, foils, and small metals. To avoid getting signals from such types of targets, you can change the discrimination settings of your metal detector. The lower the discrimination setting is, the more efficient your detector will be in ignoring invaluable items buried in the ground.


If you have a very low-frequency metal detector of VLF, you will be able to pick up even the signals coming from ferromagnetic substances. That can include grain minerals mixed with iron in the sand or soil. The reason is that such mineral particles have conductive properties much higher than what a small metal has. 

Metal Detecting Tip: The art of metal detecting is learning the sounds your machine makes. Subtle differences in tone and sharpness are clues to finding treasure. Good headphones make a difference and time swinging your detector

So, if you use your metal detector on mineralized soil, you will be able to detect signals even if there are no targets buried there. But if you are using your VLF metal detector on balanced ground soil, you will be more likely to locate targets more accurately. You may even find nuggets or flakes of gold. 


Archeology widely used metal detectors since Fon Rickey, a military historian, first used them in 1958. These days, archeologists use them to look for artifacts buried underground.

However, Federal law does not allow the public to recreationally use metal detectors to find relics and artifacts within protected areas. The reason is that there are looters and artifact seekers who disrupt archeological sites with their hobbies. 

Unwanted Targets

While it is exciting to think that metal detectors can find gold and treasures, they detect the most common objects are ferrous materials. That includes nails and other invaluable pieces of metal. Similarly, these devices can also detect non-ferrous materials, such as bottle tops.

Metal Detecting Tip: Learning how to set the discrimination will allow you to by pass gum wrappers, iron nails and pop top pull-tabs. Read about this article: How to set the Discrimination on a Metal Detector

To prevent your metal detectors from locating objects that you may not benefit from, you can change their settings. For instance, you can decrease the discrimination settings and increase the metal detector’s sensitivity to ensure that it will only detect targets that you can benefit from. (source)

Learning about metal detecting gear can be overwhelming, but these articles are here to help!


David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.


  1. Carrisa Harmer, Can Metal Detectors Find Lost Keys?, Detecting School, Accessed September 3, 2021. 
  2. Rom Myers, How To Find Lost Keys In The Grass Or Anywhere Outside, Metal Detector Planet, September 4, 2021.
  3. Kathryn Hatashita-Lee, What Can Metal Detectors Detect?, It Still Works, September 4, 2021.


David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

Read about David -> HERE

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