So You Want to Be a Ghost Hunter: Tools of the Trade

Ghost hunting has come a long way since its origins of “outside the grid” groups and Polaroid cameras. Today, a novice ghost hunter has dozens of devices at his or her fingertips. And surprise! These techie tools aren’t always as expensive as you may think.

Be careful when purchasing ghost hunting tools: not every company is reputable, so do your homework. We’ve included a list of spirit hunting device sources below; please look for references or reviews before buying. (We’ve also included links to a few fun apps.)

In general, the more economical choices may not be as sensitive or hardy as those used by the professionals, but they can get you on your way to learning more about ghost hunting.

Ready to suss out your very first ghost? Consider any of the following:

EVP Recorder

EVP recorders are a popular first choice for ghost seekers. They pick up electronic voice phenomena (EVP) – in other words, sounds that are under the range of human hearing, but can be detected via the more sensitive audio of a specialty-made device. Digital recorders may be superior to cassettes, as the playback is easier, but this will be a matter of personal preference and experience based on the results you get.

Generally, the ghost hunter will ask a question (such as “Is there anyone here?” or “Can you tell me your name?”), then pause for about 60 seconds to give the spirit time to respond. After asking several questions, the results can be played back with the volume turned up. If a response is given, more questions can be asked. For example, if “Help me” is heard, the ghost hunter might ask, “What can we do to help you?” or “Are you in pain?”

Ghost Box/Spirit Box

Ghost boxes utilize radio frequencies to pick up sounds being relayed in the environment, but which the human ear may not be able to hear by itself. They select a “channel” receiving white noise – in other words, not picking up on an active radio or other channel currently being utilized by, for example, a radio station – to provide direct communication with entities.

Spirit boxes allow actual words and other sounds, such as slamming doors or ghostly footsteps, to be heard directly and immediately by the ghost hunter. These may be difficult to interpret and may need to be played back with the volume turned up in order to determine actual words. Professional ghost hunters often utilize special equipment or programs to play back the sounds they’ve recorded and reduce interfering noise so words are easier to interpret (beware, this additional software can be expensive).

EMF Meter

EMF meters detect AC (alternating current) electromagnetic fields, which are physical fields produced by electrically charged objects. Because of this factor, the EMF meter should be kept well away from other electronic equipment. The theory is that spirits and other entities produce energy. The EMF meter alerts the ghost hunter to possible paranormal activity in the area via a sound, a flashing light, or both. Most EMF meters will show how strong or weak the signal is.

Once a signal is received, the ghost-hunter knows to remain in that particular area in order to investigate phenomena. At this time s/he can simply sit quietly and listen for sound, ask questions in a clear voice, and may use other equipment, such as an EVP recorder or spirit box, to see whether communication can be obtained.

Infrared Temperature Sensors

These gauge the heat in a given area. More expensive and intricate varieties may have a visual display as well to show the shape of the heat source. Heat will vary in an area where a spirit has appeared. The accuracy of the instrument can be roughly gauged by placing it near a heat source, such as a human being or animal, and determining whether the heat has been picked up.

Ghosts are often said to feel colder than the surrounding area, hence the “chill” witnesses will describe when activity has occurred nearby.

Cameras and Video

Even a basic digital (or even a non-digital) camera might pick up very strong presences that the human eye can’t see. (People have even received potential spirit entities via cell phone photography.) Depending upon your preferences, experience level and budget, “ghost hunting” video devices may go all the way from extremely sensitive basic photography to infrared detection, motion sensing and night vision.

Motion Sensors

We mentioned these above as a part of a photography or vidography package, but there are also individual, pocket-sized motion sensors that will alert the ghost hunter to extremely delicate movements in the area. When motion is detected but nothing can be seen, the ghost-hunter assumes the possibility of spirit activity and concentrates his or her efforts in that particular area.

Hints When Ghost Hunting

For reasons that have not as yet been determined, spirit activity may be stronger and more detectable at night. This may be due to less electricity being utilized at night as bedtime approaches, or there may be some other reason, including circadian rhythms. Ghost hunters don’t just concentrate their efforts at night because it appears “spookier”; there simply has been more evidence, overall, for activity during darker, quieter hours.

With that said, beware of the “spooky” factor. Even ordinary things may seem to go bump in the night due to the natural human over-alertness when attempting to navigate a darkened area (we can’t, after all, see predators or other danger very well in darker conditions). Additionally, an overall reduction in noise means ordinary sounds – such as shuffling feet, closing doors or a settling house – are registered as much louder than they would during more busy time periods, when they’re muffled and drowned out.

NEVER attempt to navigate a potentially dangerous area (for example, a condemned building). You may get injured, particularly since there will be lowered visibility if you have all the lights off.

NEVER “break into” an area you’re not supposed to be in. Even cemeteries generally hold hours when the public is allowed to walk the grounds, and these will usually exclude nighttime. Get permission before walking any grounds that you’re not sure you’d automatically be allowed in.

Ghost-hunt with a partner or partners. A second pair of eyes, ears and hands can help hold the equipment and can provide a sounding-board: “Did you hear that?” “Yes!” or, “No…you’re just creeped out right now!” A partner can also hold a flashlight for better visibility when walking areas you don’t know well.

The above devices are just the basics. Dozens of different categories of paranormal activity detectors are available. Don’t jump in and break the bank purchasing every spirit device you come across; start small and as you gain experience and some confirmation that what you’re doing is yielding results, work your way up from there.

In the meantime, we have provided a list of spirit detection device retailers below. ALWAYS check out the retailer to confirm it is a legitimate and frequently utilized source. Please note that we are NOT affiliated with the following sales sites nor do we receive a commission for mentioning them. Purchase and utilize at your own risk. Good luck and happy ghost hunting!

Ghost Hunting Equipment E-sources

Ghost Hunting Apps


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