ground conditions for detecting

What are the Best Ground Conditions For Metal Detecting?

Best Ground Conditions for Metal Detecting

Metal detecting is one of the hobbies that require paying attention even to the small details! Otherwise you may leave many valuable finds on the table. Indeed, ground condition is one of the details you need to understand before you go out digging. By doing so, you will always have the edge over those who don’t care or don’t understand which kind of soil they are stepping in …

… So, What are the Best Ground Conditions for Metal Detecting? When you find a soft ground that is a little wet, not soaked, not highly mineralized, not variable or salty, not acidic, free of iron and not heavily covered with snow. Then you can consider these ground conditions as being the best for metal detecting. Indeed, Most Metal Detectors operates well under these conditions.

It is very important to identify the ground conditions that could give you pretty much a hard time. So you could avoid or work around them.

However, when you don’t have the possibility to metal detect in a better ground condition. Then, it would be crucial to understand the techniques you need to adopt so will still get great results!

What about Mineralized Ground?

There are many types of mineralized grounds in the nature, usually it is not easy to metal detect in such soil conditions. Yet, being patient during the process may help you reap some great benefits.

There are several examples of mineralized ground:

Salty soil: sometimes called conductive soil which is one of the most popular examples. Detecting in it generally causes confusing noises caused by the fact that the needed ground balance for your detector in this case is different from the default ground balance used for regular magnetic ground.

Black sand: that you can find in locations like Alaska, Hawaii and other places in Europe is not the regular sand that you are used to. Indeed, it is a combination of magnetite and iron oxide. Under these conditions, some detectors might stop working completely as they don’t handle such high mineralized soils. Others can handle that with the right adjustments.

Close to volcano pipelines: In these places when volcano eruptions have already happened, keep in mind that you are dealing with highly mineralized ground. This location could cause the same trouble caused by black sand unless you are using specific detectors implementing the right settings.

Even if these kinds of soils seem to be the worst ground condition that you could ever experiment. However, some hobbyists including me consider it as the best!

In fact, these locations are the ones when you can come across the best finds ever. These include Gold nuggets and all kinds of gemstones such as Diamond, Peridot, Sapphire or even Garnet.

Good to know that the best way to deal with such a type of soil is by using a device with similar features as these detectors for Mineralized soil! They will tremendously be helpful …

… My favourite one is this minelab machine that you check on Amazon!

Ground covered with snow!

Detecting in snow is fun for many people but it is still not an easy task! Indeed, when the ground is covered by snow, you probably need to add more elements to your toolbox.

This includes these items:

  • Rake: to remove snow each time you think you’ve got something.
  • Lighter: Digging is pretty hard when there is lot of snow out there. In this case a lighter would be really useful to melt it.
  • Gloves: Even if it is recommended at all times and conditions, many hobbyists prefer detect without gloves. It is more fun for them. But in case of snow, you really need to consider putting on gloves so your hands won’t freeze! I’ve written this interesting list about the best detection gloves that you can refer to …
  • Waterproof Metal Detector: If you already have one, that’s great. Otherwise, you probably should consider getting one under these circumstances … You can refer to these waterproof detectors for more ideas!

These were just some examples of necessary additional items you should probably be equipped with! In addition, in case of snow, the distance between the coil and targets increases significantly. Thus, you need to consider the snow thickness and adjust for a better depth.

Wet Ground …

I’ve asked at least 50 people practicing metal detecting on a regular basis and most of them have confirmed that wet ground is the best!

Indeed, wet soil improves significantly received signals. This remains also valid when the ground is soaked or damp. So each time it rains, you probably should go out detecting after it rains.

However, the problem of wet ground is when it is contaminated with iron. Thus, the discrimination between signals coming from iron and those coming from valid finds like coins becomes seriously difficult.

Not to mention that the ground becomes muddy so moving around becomes really difficult and uncomfortable.

So when you already know that the ground has iron in it, wait for few days after it rains. Experience has shown that after that time the separation between signals becomes much obvious.

Farm Ground …

If you get permission to dig in a farm ground, this would be pretty much easy money for you. Especially when the farmer has just moves around the soil when plowing it.

Thus, any finds would get closer and closer and you won’t need to adjust for higher depth.

One more thing about farm ground is that they may really hold serious finds in them! Indeed, few people are willing to ask for permission, and even fewer are going to get it … So these kinds of locations are really un-tapped!

BTW, I’ve written this detection in fields guide to expand your knowledge about this topic!

Variable Ground …

By variable ground, I mean when in the same location the ground has different characteristics. The most common case in when in a specific spot the soil is a bit low, then few steps after the soil becomes higher.

This causes mainly 2 things:

  • Considerable noises causes by this variability.
  • Difficulty to adjust the ground balance of your detector each time when you change the spot.

For this it is recommend moving up your coil at least for 2 or 3 centimeters above usual. In addition, you should use a detector that can adjust the ground balance automatically.

Saturable Soil …

Saturable soil is pretty hard to detect in, as the signals that you can receive are almost close to zero!

There are some techniques to go around that by swinging the coil several centimeters higher than usual. Also, you probably need detectors that have settings depending on the soil type.

Minelab detectors are a good example …

Woods Ground …

Detecting in the woods is one of the best and thrilling places you can go for! It becomes a little bit hard only when the ground is soaked and muddy after a rainy day.

Also when the ground is heavily covered by leafs, digging becomes a bit harder.

To learn more about this type of territory you should check this detailed article! Many interesting tips there …

Best Ground Conditions for digging

There are some people who don’t care about the ground from the perspective we’ve talked about before. That is, the main thing they care about is how easy it is to dig the ground …

Indeed, I know somebody who used to dig in hard packed grounds until the day he broke his shovel that has cost him almost 300 dollars. At that time, he started considering soft enough grounds and sands, unless there is a real necessity to dig in hard soils.

Best Ground Conditions for Coins Shooting

What a great moment when you find an old coin that marks such a historic period! Yet, this moment could be easily tarnished if you find out that the coin is damaged due to bad soil conditions.

One of the best ground characteristics to preserve coins is when it is hard red mud. Better yet, when it is soft loose soil without too much mineralization that has also low acidic content.

Indeed, too much acidic soil can seriously damage coins and many kinds of finds.

Choose a Metal Detector that can operate in all Ground Conditions

There are many different detector brands that can operate in all different ground conditions. One of them is those manufactured by the Australian company Minelab and the American manifacturer Garrett Electronics!

They have some entry instruments that are simple and adapted for beginners. They also have more professional devices that are adapted for treasure hunting.

If you want to get a different metal detector, please make sure it has the ability to provide a high performing ground balance. When your device is well ground balanced it will perform deeper and in all sorts of grounds.

The process consists on discriminating as much as possible signals due to mineralized elements in the ground. And at the same time, provide enough depth to detect wanted valuable targets.

BTW, you can have a check at my favorite all terrain machine on Amazon!


Hopefully, you are now aware of all ground conditions that would suit you the best while metal detecting and also aware of the most difficult conditions. So you will be able to avoid or work around them in order to get the best possible finds.

Really hope you’ve learnt something new! If so, don’t hesitate to share this article with others to spread value!

Now I really want to hear from you …

What are the best and worst ground conditions according to your experience and preferences? What Metal detector do you use to overcome bad soil conditions?

Finally, I think that the next interesting thing that you should learn about is picking up Gold, I am sure you are interested in that! If so, the few minutes you will need to read this Gold detection guide are totally worth it …

About the Author

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.