Glass and Metal detectors

Can Metal Detectors Detect GLASS?

can metal detectors find glass

At the beginning of your metal detecting journey, it is commonly known that you will start asking many questions about the capabilities of your machine. I was there too and I even wondered whether detectors have the ability to detect glass!

In this post I address this by sharing what I know so hopefully I will save you lot of time.

So, can metal detectors detect glass? Basically, detectors are not designed for detecting silica or mineral based items. This includes glass and even gemstones just like diamond. This is justified by their lack of electrical conductivity that actually triggers signals to the coil of your instrument.

Despite that fact, there are still few ways you can get around that! By doing so, you will have the chance to collect some antique glass such as old relic bottles.

Why your Metal Detector can’t Detect Glass Items?

There are some people who claim they’ve detected glass through their detector. Of course, this is not true and can only be justified by metals that were in close proximity. This could also be justified by the ground having iron in it.

These rumors and claims come also from the glass composition! This could include lead, iron and even aluminum. Yes these ferrous and non-ferrous metals are detectable by your machine, yet this doesn’t apply to glass …

… Indeed, while producing glass items, these supposedly detectable metals are combined with more dominant elements like silica and oxygen atoms. As a consequent, lead, iron, aluminum and other metals lose their ability to conduct electricity. Thus, they are no more detectable!

That’s why; incorporating metals that most instruments can easily find doesn’t always mean that the actual item (glass in this case) could be found.

Can Metal Detectors Detect Through Glass?

My quick answer is Yes! It is totally possible to detect all sorts of metals through glass. Yet, you need to take into consideration few things …

… Glass is an element with high density which means that signals that go in and out will be attenuated. So, it you recognize metals like copper, lead or even gold with specific tones …  through glass these tones won’t sound the same!

This requires you to do some testing on your backyard to get used to tones through glass!

It also depends on the thickness of the glass, so you might test with several thicknesses. In addition, it depends on the instrument you are using, that is each one has got a specific depth. Not to mention the settings you are configuring …

Can Metal Detectors Detect Glass Bottles?

As I’ve said before there are cases in which your machine can detect glass! Indeed, this is true under the condition that the glass has some metal on it. This could be a cap an inkwell or any other type of metal.

There are some glasses containing copper elements in them. Even other expensive ones with thin gold wire or foil.

Detecting these bottles depends on how much metal there is on them. If there is enough metal then the process will be much easier.

What Machine should you use to come up with Antique Glass?

Antique Glass could have metallic elements on it! This means that there are some valid chances to find it …

… But what you should keep in mind, is that in most cases, these kind of targets are located in trashy areas! What I mean by that, is locations that are full of junk and/or metallic items with no value and will continue to lead your machine to pick up false signals!

That’s why you will need a detection device with good discrimination capabilities …

… There are many models that bring that to the table:

Detecting Antique Glass – How does it work?

In many museums you will find antique glass available for exhibition. This shows how much valuable they are and also how much people enjoy watching them.

That’s why if you manage to collect them while metal detecting this would be almost a treasure!  Of course you might think that it is not possible to detect them using your device which is true. But considering the fact that many antique glass models have metal on them; chances are you will find them.

First, you need to look for old homes or places that used to hold people’s trash before! These kinds of sites usually hold all sorts of antique stuff. Detecting in these places, most likely requires permission, so make sure you’ve got yours.

Using a Detector with a small coil, won’t be much useful in this case. Instead you will need at least a medium coil to detect much deeper. Also you will need to do some settings adjustments to discriminate ground mineralization.

You will need a pinpointer for more accuracy while detecting (These Cheap Pinpointer will do a good Job!). Not to mention professional gloves for your safety (Have a Look at These Reliable detection Gloves!). I understand that many detectorists prefer to use bare hands while digging, but in this case dealing with glass might cause serious injuries! So make sure you are putting on your gloves …

Antique Glass Bottles Value …

Once you find some antique glass items, you may want to keep them as a souvenir. Or you may want to sell them!

First of all, you need to be aware that not all antique bottles are valuable! Yet most of them will put some cash into your pocket.

Basically, the older the bottle is, the valuable … And one of the indicators of its age is the pontil mark in the bottom. If it is open, iron or smooth based, this means that it is older than 1850, it might even be made up to 1600.

The color of the glass plays a big role in increasing or decreasing its value. In fact, a clean colored bottle is the least valuable, however green, black and purple colors are the most valuable.

The shape would mean something too. When the glass shape is unusual, this probably means that it is pretty rare, thus more valuable.

One of the most used platforms to buy and sell old glass bottles is ebay … You can go in there and have a look and what people are proposing. This would give you a much better idea.

For more information about antique glass bottles, you should check the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors Site.

Can detectors pick up glass marbles?

I wanted to include this as I’ve found some people asking this question. Indeed, No your machine can’t detect glass marbles as the lead content is not only low but also lacks of electrical conductivity.

I’ve heard that there are some glass marbles that have high lead content on them. I am not sure if this is enough to make from the glass detectable. This has yet to be tested I guess …

Best Beaches to Find Sea Glass

If you like to go out digging in the beach, you may find some beautiful sea glass effortlessly. In this case your machine won’t be helpful, yet if you visit some specific beaches that are rich with these types of glass you will get plenty of them.

For that, I suggest you to visit these beaches that are notorious for Glass Sea:

  • Steklyashka Beach, Vladivostok, Russia.
  • Hanapepe Bay Glass Beach, Kauai, Hawaii (learn more about using your machine in Hawaii)
  • Glass Beach, Port Townsend, Washington.
  • Davenport Beach, California.
  • Sea Glass Beach & Black Bay Beach, Bermuda.
  • Glass Beach, Port Townsend, Washington.
  • Chemical Beach & North Beach, Seaham, England.

You can check this complete list of beaches know with these items …

Can Glass be seen on x-ray

This is another common question! The science behind the answer is totally different from conventional metal detectors, but it is worth to understand it a little bit.

In this case, it has nothing to do with its conductivity. Instead it depends on the size and density of the glass. This is clern when you do an x-ray on a human hand for example; the bones are what appear on the pictures because their particles density is much higher than human meat and skin.

This is not always true! This depends on the settings, the threshold and what the x-ray was designed to picture.

So, Yes Glass can be seen clearly on x-ray …


I did my very best to not make you leave this post until you get clear answers to all your questions! Hopefully I’ve succeeded … If so, it would nice if you share this article with others to spread value.

Now, I really want to hear from you! Did you ever found any antique glass out there? If so, what have you found exactly? Let me know in the comment section below …

… Generally, people who are interested in Antique Glass, are also interested in gemstones! if this is your case, then you can have a check at this Diamond Prospecting Guide! You will learn some helpful info …

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.