Tungsten and detecting machines

Can Metal Detectors Detect TUNGSTEN?

can metal detectors detect tungsten

In my first days in my metal detecting journey, I won’t deny that I was, pretty much, asking all sorts of questions about my machine. By questioning its ability to detect many kinds of elements and under which circumstances. One of the elements I was particularly curious about is tungsten. After I’ve found out how a machine could deal with it, I’ve decided to put together this post to share what I’ve known …

… So, can metal detectors detect tungsten? Tungsten has several physical properties that make from it detectable by VLF and PI Metal Detectors. Indeed, its electrical conductivity is pretty high (Above Nickel and Zinc). Thus, it easily reacts to magnetic field generated by your machine’s coil.

In this post you will have a better understanding around the different properties of this element. This is actually a skill that hobbyists should have for all kinds of metals.

In addition, you will have a complete idea on kinds of machines you probably should use for detecting it more easily. Plus, some locations you should target where you will have better chances finding it.

Tungsten Belongs to a Category of Detectable Metals …

It is also called wolfram, its name means in the Swedish language ‘heavy stone’. It is a unique and uncommon chemical element that you will find in most cases mixed with others. It has a high density (almost 19 times of water density).

If it happens and you find it in its natural form, you will notice it looks just like a grey steel metal.

Is tungsten ferrous or non-ferrous?

This question is asked most often, and it is a relevant one! It is like asking “Is Tungsten Magnetic?” in some sort.

Actually, tungsten is a non-ferrous metal as its magnetic properties are low. If you try attracting it to a magnet (even a strong one) you will notice that it is barely attracted.

There are many examples of non-ferrous metals just like gold, aluminum, platinum, titanium …. The list goes on and on. All of them can be detected by most modern machines.

PI detectors would do a better job finding metals just like gold or platinum. Yet VLF detectors are more adapted to other metals including tungsten.

Some Properties of tungsten

I would like to add few physical tungsten properties. This includes obviously its hardiness and robustness. This allows it to preserve not only a high melting point, but also an even higher boiling point.

These properties make from this metal used in the industry for many usages. Such as jewelry, mining, ammunition … I will detail that later on in this post.

Is tungsten Conductive?

I’ve somewhat answered this question before, yet I wanted to address it here, because many people keep asking that. In fact, it is the case; its electrical conductivity is even a bit better than Zinc!

Actually, this is what makes from it a detectable metal! The detector’s coil emits electromagnetic field that triggers electricity on any conductive metals.

Can metal detector find tungsten Carbide?

Yes, even when 50% of carbon is combined with 50% of tungsten, this doesn’t influence dramatically its electrical conductivity. Thus, tungsten carbide can also be detected …

This question, generally, comes from the fact that carbon has an extremely low electrical conductivity! For example for diamond which is a solid form of carbon, it can’t be detected at all using your machine…

What Metal Detector to use for Tungsten Carbide?

Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro

I’ve noticed that hobbyists try too much to identify a so called “tungsten carbide metal detector” … Actually, I didn’t find in the market any dedicated machine whatsoever for this metal. Instead, most VLF machines can pick it up using the proper settings for tungsten.

I will give an example, so you can get an idea. The machine I recommend you to use is Bounty Hunter Land Ranger Pro LRP (Know More About it Here on Amazon!!)

Last time I’ve checked in Amazon, I’ve found that this machine come with a 5 year warranty. Which is fine for such a low price!

Anyways, this detector is a light weight (roughly 2.4 pounds) and its length can be adjusted easily. Plus, the coil you receive is waterproof which will allow you to hunt on beach and soaked/muddy grounds.

Some people consider the Ranger Pro as a serious competitor to AT Pro (Learn About it Here on Amazon!). Honestly, it is tough to say that this is totally true because the latter is used by people with years of experience. Yet, Ranger Pro remains good for beginners and those with significant experience with great features for the price.

The main thing that pushes me to recommend this machine is its ground balancing capabilities. It can operate in difficult ground conditions that many machines with its price just can’t. In fact, as far as you are setting a depth less than 8 inches the tones are rather clean and accurate. When the depth is set higher, than you will start hearing additional tones that will make the task a bit harder for you.

But generally, tungsten is not the kind of metal that you will find very deep like coins and relics! That’s why 7-8 inches depth is more than enough.

Valuable Tungsten targets you can find…

In case you are not aware of valuable tungsten carbide finds you may target, below I list some examples that may trigger your interest:

Cutting Tools: Many people find them valuable, maybe you would too. It is also based on cobalt (Learn where to metal detect for cobalt).

Some kinds of ammunition: Due to its high density and toughness, this metal is also used to make armor protection and things like that. In this case, it may also be reinforced with some additional metals.

Mining tools: When it comes to mining there is no space for joke! You absolutely need strong tools (hammer, cutters …) made out of tungsten carbide to be able to do the job properly.

Surgery tools: scissors, cutters, needles and all these kinds of instruments are generally made out of stainless steel. But the better performing ones that are also more pricy are those made of tungsten carbide.

Tungsten coins: It happens when hunting for coins and relics to find some coins of this metal. You can learn more about detecting coins here.

Jewelry: made of this metal are more common these days. In fact, this is justified by many characteristics. This includes a decent resistance to scratching or bending unlike gold for example. Plus you can find them in different colors like, black, grey and even white.

Tungsten gold: Also known as fake gold bars. Actually, you can be scammed if you are a jeweler or a gold/silver retailer. Indeed, when you order gold or silver bars to use it to make jewelry, you may find out that, instead, they are gold coated tungsten bars. These kinds of things happened and were reported several times before.

Where can you find tungsten?

If you are looking for items made of this metal, especially jewelry, you should target beaches, parks and locations that usually hold events.

For those who asks where is tungsten found in nature, the most accurate answer I found is “mines” in china, Portugal, Russia, Bolivia and Austria. There may be others, but these are the most common relevant locations.

You can get more location ideas where to use your metal detector to hopefully find tungsten and other valuables!

How to detect a fake tungsten gold bar?

It is probably hard to do so using your metal detector, these kinds of work, as for now, can only be done by professionals using advanced technologies.

You can check this video that explains this clearly:

X-rays or any tool that help you identify things using element density can be used for this purpose.


I’ve planned at the beginning to just answer your question directly without diving much into the details. But, once I’ve written the answer at the beginning, I’ve felt excited, for whatever reason, to write a little bit more by answering possibly more questions you might have. Hopefully, you have a clearer idea on tungsten carbide and its detectability.

Finally, if you are actually looking for some highly valuable Metals that will put some serious cash in your pocket, then you should definitely that this Gold Prospecting Guide! I’ve included in this Post All what you should know about the Topic to make your Task Easier …

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.