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Relic Hunting

MMS-A-Y8 Mounting Magnet, camera & flashlight not included.

Powerful neodymium magnets are handy tools for relic hunters, treasure seekers and metal detector enthusiasts.  We also hear from many folks using strong magnets for magnet fishing.

Let’s take a look at a few ways strong magnets can be useful.  Follow along as we use powerful magnets to search lakes, old wells and help identify coins and silver.

What is Magnet Fishing?

Magnet Fishing is a small but growing hobby where strong magnets are used to search for and pick up submerged items.  The most common finds are discarded objects, often just rusty junk.  There's an environmental beneft to it; cleaning these things up can be a good thing.  Underwater #trashtag?  What’s more intriguing is the possibility of finding historical items or other interesting stuff.  People have lifted old bikes, weapons and safes using strong magnets!

We discussed Magnet Fishing here on this blog a while back, but figured it was time to take a deeper look.

Safety Warnings

We’re far from experts on this subject.  We only heard about it from some of our customers who shared their stories with us, which naturally attracted our interest.  Still, this seems like a good place to briefly mention a few common sense safety precautions.

Rust: Most of the items you’ll fish out of the water are made of steel or iron – ferromagnetic metals that are attracted to magnets. In other words, you’ll be handling rusty junk.  Handle items with extreme care to avoid cutting yourself.  If injured, follow some good advice about wound care and tetanus prevention.

Dangerous items: Though not as commonly found as old signs and fishing gear, magnet fishers do sometimes find old guns, ammunition, bombs or explosives.  This post on reddit is from someone who found a mortar!  Though exciting, handle such items with extreme care.  That person called some official ordnance disposal personnel to help remove his magnet from the old mortar, which sounds like a good idea to us.

Magnet Loss: Though not as grave as the above warnings, there’s a real possibility that you could lose your strong magnet while dragging it across the unknown bottom of a body of water.  Maybe your knot comes undone.  Maybe it simply gets wedged between some rocks.  Who knows!  It’s possible that you could lose your prized magnet – be warned!


Let's Go Magnet Fishing

In the video above, we spent some time at a local lake with a few magnets to see what we could find.  We used two different 2-1/2” diameter mounting magnets:

    1. The MMS-G-Y8 comes with an eye-hook.

    2. The MMS-A-Y8 has a countersunk hole for a flat-head screw.  We added some additional items from our local hardware store to make a sturdy rope attachment.

We had some luck at this lake in our first Magnet Fishing expedition a few years ago.  We didn’t find as much this time, mainly because we weren’t allowed to fish in some of the high-traffic areas as hoped.  A park ranger asked us to leave a fishing dock, and the marina was full of boats and gated off.  I guess they didn’t want a couple of guys fishing around with ropes and strong magnets!

When we went to the marina last time, it was in the off season and we had full access.  We found a few tools that were probably dropped by a frustrated boat mechanic!  We really missed not being able to search this area more thoroughly.

Deep Wells

Exploring the deep well

To continue the search, we took our Magnet Fishing gear to a home that dates back to the 1800s, on a property that’s been lived on since the late 1700s.  We’ve previously found interesting items on the property using metal detectors, so we've been hoping to do some magnet fishing in several very old wells on the site.

Most of the items we found this day came from the smaller of these two wells!

Magnets Help Identify Found Treasures

Strong magnets are used by a wider audience to help identify metals.  Everyone from coin collectors to metal detecting hobbyists use strong magnets as another clue in identifying metals.  They help even with metals that don’t stick to magnets!

We didn’t discuss coins and precious metals very much in our earlier Eddy Currents article, but that's what we're relying on here.  The short video below shows a device constructed with a few block magnets to help identify silver coins, copper pennies and more.

We used a series of BY0X02 magnets stuck to a steel plate.  The speed at which a coin will slide down depends on both the mass of the coin and how conductive it is.


If you still haven’t read enough about finding things with magnets today, check out our Meteorite Hunting article!



Happy Exploring!

Some older posts you might enjoy...

What are Fluxlines?

We love talking about magnets. When we do, we often refer to magnetic field pictures to show what’s going on. There’s a lot of information to be learned from these images, but let's take a moment and examine just what they’re saying.

What are those black lines circling around the magnet? What do they mean? What are they telling us? Follow the path of a fluxline with us, journeying from pole to pole.

Plastic Cup Microphone

A few years ago, our Audio Speakers article featured some speakers made from plastic cups, coils of wire and magnets.  They’ve never won any audio awards, but remain a popular demonstration.  When we talk about how a current flowing through a wire in a magnetic field exerts a force, most of our audience starts drifting.  Play some music through it, though, and suddenly everyone wants to know how it works!

We’ve enjoyed it how a simply constructed experiment highlights some electrical engineering basics in a way that even kids understand.

In this sequel article, we want to reverse what’s going on with those speakers.  Can we make a microphone using a plastic cup?

Can Magnets Clean Dirty Laundry?

Can placing magnets inside of your washing machine effectively clean your clothes, without using any laundry detergent? This is a question we get asked occasionally, but have never had a solid answer for.

There are some magnetic products out there that claim to wash your clothes without the use of laundry detergent. Simply stick the magnets to the drum of the washing machine and run your regular wash cycle.

We were skeptical of these claims so we wanted to conduct this experiment for ourselves. After all, Magnets Are Weird, right?

3D Printed Wind Turbine

A few months ago, our Brushless DC Motor article demonstrated a very simple electric motor.  With some magnets and coils of wire, we were able to make a motor spin.

A generator works in much the same way, only backwards.  Instead of feeding in electricity to create motion, we could use a similar device to convert motion into electricity.

This month, we’ll build a generator like those used inside a wind turbine.  We’ll keep it small, with the modest goal of simply lighting up an LED.

Raspberry Pi Alarm System

Building a home alarm system using magnets, sensors and a Raspberry Pi....