How to Start Ghost Hunting: Expert Techniques, Tips, and Tools

How to Start Ghost Hunting: Expert Techniques, Tips, and Tools

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Written By Haunting Realm

Adventurer. Cryptozoology enthusiast. Paranormal investigator. Storyteller.

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If you've ever wondered how to hunt ghosts, you're in the right place. This comprehensive guide will take you through the process of becoming a ghost hunter, providing you with the best ghost-hunting techniques and safety tips to ensure your paranormal investigation is thrilling and secure.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to start ghost hunting or a skeptic seeking to understand the allure, we’ll delve into the heart of the matter. 

From learning how to do a paranormal investigation to understanding the signs of paranormal activity and evaluating ghost-hunting evidence, I’ve got you covered.

We’ll also explore how to get into paranormal investigation safely, discussing the duration of a typical ghost hunt and even how to interpret objective ghost evidence. This guide is your one-stop resource for all things ghost hunting.

What is Ghost Hunting?

Ghost hunting is the process of investigating locations that are reported to be haunted by ghosts. Typically, a ghost-hunting team will attempt to collect evidence supporting paranormal activity. 

Ghost hunters use various electronic devices, such as electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors, digital thermometers, handheld and static digital video cameras, including thermographic and night vision cameras, and digital audio recorders.

Pro Tip: Join a local group or team when starting out in ghost hunting. They can provide guidance, share their experiences, and help you learn the ropes. Plus, it’s more fun and safer to explore with others.

The History and Popularity of Ghost Hunting

The fascination with the supernatural and the desire to interact with the afterlife has been a part of human culture for centuries. 

However, the modern form of ghost hunting can be traced back to the late 19th century, with the establishment of societies for psychical research in Britain and the United States. 

These societies aimed to scientifically investigate claims of supernatural phenomena.

In recent years, ghost hunting has seen a surge in popularity, primarily due to the influence of the media. 

Television shows like “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Adventures,” and “Most Haunted” have brought ghost hunting into the mainstream, demonstrating the methods and equipment used in investigations and inspiring a new generation of ghost hunters. 

The internet has also played a significant role in the spread of ghost hunting, with numerous websites, forums, and social media groups dedicated to sharing experiences and evidence of the paranormal.

The Science and Skepticism Behind Ghost Hunting

While ghost hunting is popular, it’s also a subject of much debate and skepticism. Many scientists and skeptics argue that there is no credible scientific evidence supporting the existence of ghosts or the effectiveness of ghost-hunting techniques. 

They suggest that psychological factors, such as the power of suggestion, or natural phenomena, like electromagnetic fields and infrasound can explain experiences often attributed to ghosts.

Despite the skepticism, many amateur and expert ghost hunters maintain that they have had genuine experiences with the paranormal that cannot be easily dismissed. 

They argue that while current scientific understanding may not fully explain these experiences, this does not necessarily mean they are not real. 

This tension between belief and skepticism, between the seen and the unseen, makes ghost hunting such a fascinating and enduring pursuit.

How to Start Ghost Hunting: Preparing for Your First Ghost Hunt

Assembling Your Ghost Hunting Team

“How do I become a ghost hunter?” you may ask. Well, the first step in your ghost-hunting journey is assembling your team. Ghost hunting and paranormal investigation are typically group activities; having a team can make the experience more enjoyable and safer. 

Your team can be made up of friends or family, or you could even join a local ghost-hunting group. The key is to find individuals who share your interest in the paranormal and who you trust.

When assembling your team, consider the strengths and interests of each member. 

Some people might be more interested in historical research, while others might focus more on the technical side, such as working with ghost-hunting equipment. Having a diverse team can make your investigations more thorough and enjoyable.

Remember, a good team is supportive, respectful, and shares a common interest in the paranormal. It’s essential to establish clear communication and mutual respect within your team. 

This will help ensure everyone feels comfortable and safe during investigations, making your ghost-hunting experiences more successful and enjoyable.

Understanding Basic Ghost Hunting Concepts

Before you embark on your first ghost hunt, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some basic ghost-hunting concepts and terminology. This foundational knowledge will help you understand what you’re looking for and how to interpret what you find.

You can find some useful resources in these articles: What Are the Different Types of Ghosts? A Comprehensive Guide and What is a Poltergeist? A Complete Guide to Understanding Violent Paranormal Disturbances.

Start by learning about the different types of hauntings. For example, residual ghosts and residual hauntings are like echoes of the past—they’re repeating patterns of activity that don’t interact with observers. 

On the other hand, intelligent hauntings involve spirits that seem to be aware of their surroundings and can interact with observers.

Next, familiarize yourself with typical signs of paranormal activity. 

This might include unexplained noises, sudden temperature changes, feelings of being watched, or objects moving independently. Understanding these signs will help you know what to look for during your investigations.

Finally, learn about the equipment commonly used in ghost hunting, such as EMF detectors, digital voice recorders, and infrared cameras. Understanding how this equipment works and what it’s used for will help you decide what equipment you want to use in your investigations.

Gathering Your Equipment

Ghost hunting doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment, especially when you’re just starting out. 

Some essential items include a flashlight, a digital voice recorder for capturing EVPs, a camera for taking photos, and a notebook for jotting observations. 

As you get more involved in ghost hunting, you might want to invest in additional equipment like EMF detectors or infrared cameras.

But more on the recommended equipment to help you get into ghost hunting below. You can also check this Ghost-Hunting Equipment for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide for a lot more information on the best equipment to get you started.

Planning Your Investigation

Once you’ve chosen a location and done your research, it’s time to plan your investigation. This involves deciding when you’ll go, what areas you’ll investigate, and what ghost-hunting techniques you’ll use.

When choosing a date and time for your investigation, consider the availability of your team members and the specific characteristics of your location. 

Some ghost hunters believe that paranormal activity is more likely at certain times, such as at night or on specific dates.

Next, create a loose itinerary for your investigation. 

Which areas of the location do you want to explore? Are there specific spots where paranormal activity has been reported? What order will you explore these areas in? A plan can help you stay organized and ensure you don’t miss any potentially interesting areas.

When planning your investigation techniques, consider your equipment and the type of evidence you hope to find. You might intend to do an EVP session in one area, take photos in another, and take EMF readings throughout the location.

Choosing the Right Location

The first step in preparing for your first ghost hunt is choosing the correct location. 

This might be a place that is reputed to be haunted, such as a historic building, an abandoned hospital, or even a forest or cemetery. 

The location you choose will depend on your interests, the accessibility of the site, and any permissions or permits required. Remember, respecting private property and getting approval before conducting a ghost hunt is essential.

When choosing a location, consider the type of paranormal activity reported there. 

Some places might be known for visual apparitions, others for unexplained sounds or feelings of unease. Each location will offer a unique experience, so consider what kind of evidence you hope to capture.

Pro Tip: When choosing a location, consider its accessibility. Some places might seem exciting but could be dangerous or difficult to reach, especially in the dark. Always prioritize safety over thrill.

How to start ghost hunting - research location
Location is crucial in ghost hunting as it influences the type and intensity of potential paranormal activity. Historic or emotionally charged sites often yield more significant findings. Photo credit: Suzy Hazelwood.

Researching Your Location

Once you’ve chosen a location, it’s time to do some research. Learn as much as you can about the history of the site and any reported paranormal activity. This might involve reading books, searching online, or even speaking to locals or previous investigators.

Understanding the history of a location can provide context for any paranormal activity you might encounter. 

On the same topic: A Comprehensive Guide to Ghost Hunting Equipment: Everything You Need to Know about Paranormal Investigation Kits

For example, if a location is known for the apparition of a woman in a Victorian dress, knowing that a woman died there under tragic circumstances in the Victorian era would be significant.

Researching reported paranormal activity can also help you plan your investigation. If certain phenomena are often reported in a specific location area, you might decide to focus your investigation there.

Pro Tip: When researching a location, don’t just focus on its ghost stories. Learn about its history, its architecture, and its role in the community. This can provide valuable context and make your investigation more meaningful.

Setting Ground Rules

Before you start your investigation, setting some ground rules is important. This can help ensure that everyone has a positive experience and that you conduct your investigation respectfully and ethically.

First, establish rules for respecting the location and any potential spirits. This might include not trespassing, not causing damage, and not provoking or disrespecting spirits. 

It’s important to remember that if spirits exist, they were once people who deserve to be treated with the same respect you would show the living.

Next, set rules for safety. This might include staying together as a group, not going into dangerous areas, and having a plan for what to do in case of an emergency.

Finally, set rules for how you’ll conduct your investigation. This might include being quiet during EVP sessions, not whispering (so as not to be mistaken for EVPs on playback), and not jumping to conclusions about potential evidence.

Conducting Your First Investigation

With your team assembled, equipment gathered, and plan in place, you’re ready to conduct your first ghost hunt. 

Remember to be patient, respectful, and open-minded. Not every ghost hunt shows evidence of the paranormal, but each one is an opportunity to learn and experience something new.

When you arrive at your location, take some time to get a feel for the place. Walk around, take in the atmosphere, and note any initial impressions or feelings. This can help you get in the right mindset for your investigation.

As you conduct your investigation, remember to stay observant and open-minded. Pay attention to your surroundings and to your own feelings and reactions. If you notice anything unusual, even if it’s just a feeling of unease, note it. It could be significant.

After your investigation, take some time to debrief with your team. 

Discuss your experiences, review any evidence you found, and consider what you might do differently next time. Each ghost hunt is a learning experience; there’s always more to discover.

One of the best online resources for those who want to learn how to become a ghost hunter is Rich Newman’s “Ghost Hunting for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started.”

If you want to learn even more about how to start ghost hunting, check these books too: “Ghost Hunting for Beginners.”

Pro Tip: After each investigation, take the time to review and discuss your findings as a team. This can help you learn from each other, improve your techniques, and plan for future investigations.

Essential Equipment for Starting Ghost Hunting

Ghost hunting doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment, but a few essential items can help you capture potential evidence of paranormal activity.

  1. Digital Voice Recorder: This is used to capture electronic voice phenomena (EVP), sounds or voices that weren’t audible at the time but can be heard on playback.
  2. Camera: A good quality digital camera or smartphone can capture photographic evidence. Some ghost hunters also use infrared or full-spectrum cameras to capture images not visible to the naked eye.
  3. EMF Detector: This device measures the electromagnetic fields in a location. Unexplained spikes in EMF readings can sometimes indicate paranormal activity.
  4. Flashlight: A reliable flashlight is essential for safety and practicality when investigating dark locations.
  5. Notebook and Pen: To record observations, experiences, and any changes in the environment.
  6. Thermometer: Sudden temperature drops are often associated with paranormal activity. A digital thermometer can help you detect these changes.

Remember, while these tools can assist in your investigation, the most critical equipment is your senses. Pay attention to what you see and hear during your ghost hunt.

Ghost hunting equipment guide:

EquipmentPurposeTipsMandatory for Starting Ghost Hunting
Digital Voice RecorderThese cameras can be expensive, so more experienced or professional ghost hunters typically use them.Use in a quiet environment and ask clear, open-ended questions.Yes
EMF DetectorTo measure electromagnetic fields, which some believe can indicate the presence of spirits.Be aware of potential natural sources of EMF, such as electrical appliances and wiring.No
Infrared CameraTo capture images in the dark, potentially revealing ghostly apparitions or anomalies.Take multiple photos in quick succession to increase your chances of capturing something.No
Digital ThermometerTo detect sudden cold spots, which are sometimes associated with paranormal activity.Monitor consistently and note any significant changes in temperature.No
FlashlightEssential for safety when exploring dark locations.Always have spare batteries.Yes
Notebook and PenTo jot down observations and experiences during the investigation.Keep detailed notes, they can be helpful when reviewing evidence later.Yes
Still CameraTo capture visual evidence of potential paranormal activity.These cameras can be expensive, so more experienced or professional ghost hunters typically use them.Yes
Video CameraTo record continuous footage of the investigation, which can be reviewed later for evidence.Use a tripod for stability and to cover a fixed area over a period of time.No
Spirit BoxA device that scans radio frequencies, believed by some to facilitate communication with spirits.Use with caution, as interpretations can be highly subjective.No
Ghost Hunting AppsSmartphone apps that claim to detect paranormal activity or facilitate communication with spirits.Be skeptical, as these apps are not scientifically proven and results can be easily manipulated.No
Motion SensorsTo detect movement in a particular area, potentially indicating paranormal activity.Record continuous footage of the investigation, which can be reviewed later for evidence.No
Laser Grid PenProjects a grid of dots that can help visually detect movement or apparitions.Use in a dark room and watch for any disturbances in the grid.No
UV LightUsed to detect bodily fluids, which some believe can indicate a violent death or struggle.Use with caution, as many substances can fluoresce under UV light.No
Dowsing RodsTraditionally used to find water, some ghost hunters use them to detect energy fields or communicate with spirits.Hold them steady and ask clear, yes/no questions.No
Full Spectrum CameraUse it in a dark room and watch for any disturbances in the grid.These cameras can be expensive, so they’re typically used by more experienced or professional ghost hunters.No

Pro Tip: Don’t feel pressured to buy expensive equipment right away. Start with the basics, and as you gain experience, you can invest in more advanced tools. Remember, the most important tool is your own senses.

How to do a Paranormal Investigation

Hunting ghosts is not a solo endeavor. It requires teamwork, not only for practical reasons but also for the safety and validation of experiences. A team can consist of two or more people, each bringing unique perspectives and skills to the investigation.

Having multiple people present during an investigation can help validate experiences. 

If one person hears or sees something, having others who can either confirm or debunk the experience is beneficial. Team members can also help each other stay objective and not jump to conclusions.

Recommended read: What Is a Psychic? A Comprehensive Guide to Extrasensory Perception

Additionally, team members can perform different roles, such as operating the equipment, taking notes, or asking questions during EVP sessions. This division of labor allows the team to cover more ground and collect more evidence.

Lastly, there’s safety in numbers. Ghost hunting often involves dark, unfamiliar places, sometimes with hazards like uneven floors or dilapidated structures. 

Having a team ensures that if someone gets hurt or feels uncomfortable, there’s someone else there to help.

Pro Tip: Communication is critical in a ghost-hunting team. Make sure everyone knows the plan, the roles, and the safety measures. Regularly check in with each other during the investigation to share experiences and ensure everyone is comfortable.

Best Ghost Hunting Techniques

Ghost hunting is more than just wandering around in the dark. It involves various techniques designed to encourage and capture evidence of paranormal activity. 

Here are some of the best ghost-hunting techniques commonly used by expert paranormal investigators:

  1. EVP Sessions: This involves asking questions out loud to capture a response on a digital voice recorder. Questions should be clear, direct, and respectful. Allow plenty of time after each question for a potential reply.
  2. Photography: Take plenty of photos during your investigation. You never know what might show up upon review. Try to take multiple pictures of the same spot from different angles.
  3. EMF Readings: Use your EMF detector to take readings throughout the location. Note any unexplained spikes in the EMF field, especially if they coincide with other experiences.
  4. Personal Experiences: Pay attention to what you see, hear, and feel. If you feel a sudden chill, hear a strange noise, or see something out of the ordinary, make a note of it.
  5. Controlled Experiments: These are designed to test the presence of intelligent spirits. For example, you might place a ball on the floor and ask any spirits present to move it.

Remember, patience is key in ghost hunting. You might spend hours without experiencing anything. Stay patient, stay observant, and keep an open mind.

Pro Tip: When conducting EVP sessions, ask open-ended questions instead of yes/no questions. This might encourage more detailed responses and provide more interesting evidence.

Safety Tips During a Ghost Hunt

Safety should be your top priority during a ghost hunt. Here are some safety measures to keep in mind:

  1. Never Trespass: Always get permission to investigate a location. Trespassing is illegal and can get you into trouble.
  2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Many locations you’ll be investigating will be dark and potentially hazardous. Always have a flashlight and watch your step.
  3. Never Go Alone: Always ghost hunt with at least one other person. This is important for both personal safety and the validation of experiences.
  4. Have a First Aid Kit: It’s a good idea to have a basic first aid kit on hand in case of minor injuries.
  5. Respect the Dead: If you believe in ghosts, ghost hunting involves interacting with the deceased. Always be respectful and considerate.
  6. Know Your Limits: If you ever feel uncomfortable or scared during an investigation, stepping away is okay. Your well-being is more important than any potential evidence.

Following these safety measures ensures your ghost hunt is a safe and enjoyable experience.

Pro Tip: Always have a backup plan. If something goes wrong, if someone gets hurt, or if the location is unexpectedly inaccessible, you should have a plan for what to do.

how to do a paranormal investigation
Interpreting results in a paranormal investigation is vital to distinguish between genuine paranormal activity and natural phenomena, ensuring credible findings and enhancing our understanding of the paranormal.

Understanding the Results

Interpreting Photos and Recordings

After your ghost hunt, you’ll likely have a wealth of photos and recordings to review. This is often where the real work begins. 

When reviewing photos, you’re looking for anything out of the ordinary. This could be orb ghosts (small circles of light), apparitions, or unexplained light sources. 

However, it’s important to approach this with a skeptical eye. Many things can cause these phenomena, including dust, lens flare, or reflections.

When reviewing audio recordings, you’re listening for Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). These sounds or voices weren’t audible at the time of recording but can be heard on playback. 

Again, approach with skepticism. It’s easy to misinterpret random noise as voices, especially if you’re expecting to hear something.

When reviewing photos and recordings, having others check them is also helpful. They might notice something you missed or provide a different interpretation of what you’ve found. 

Remember, the goal is not to find ghosts at all costs but to find credible paranormal evidence.

Pro Tip: Try to do so in a quiet, distraction-free environment when reviewing evidence. This will help you focus and pick up on subtle details you might miss otherwise.

Evaluating Electromagnetic Activity

Electromagnetic Field (EMF) detectors are a standard tool in ghost hunting. 

The theory is that ghosts can manipulate these fields, causing spikes in the readings. If you noticed any such spikes during your investigation, now is the time to evaluate them.

Consider the context of the spike. Did it coincide with any other experiences, such as a sudden chill or a feeling of unease? Did it occur in a location known for paranormal activity? On its own, an EMF spike is not definitive proof of a ghost. 

However, when combined with other evidence, it can be compelling.

Also, be aware that many things can cause EMF spikes, including electrical wiring, appliances, and cell phones. Try to rule out these sources before attributing the spike to paranormal activity.

You can also read How To Use An EMF Ghost Detector in Paranormal Investigations for an in-depth guide on how to use these devices correctly.

Pro Tip: Remember that EMF detectors can pick up on many things, including electrical appliances, wiring, and even cell phones. Always try to rule out these sources before attributing any spikes to paranormal activity.

How to Deal with Inexplicable Phenomena

Sometimes, you might encounter phenomena that you can’t easily explain. This could be a feeling of being watched, a sudden drop in temperature, or an object moving on its own. 

These experiences can be unsettling, but they’re also some of the most exciting aspects of ghost hunting.

When dealing with inexplicable phenomena, the first step is to try and find a logical explanation. Could there be a draft causing that chill? Could the feeling of being watched be due to high EMF levels? Could the moving object have been accidentally nudged?

If you can’t find a logical explanation, consider the context. Does the phenomena fit with the history of the location? Does it coincide with any other evidence you’ve collected?

Inexplicable phenomena can be the most compelling evidence for the existence of ghosts. However, it’s also the most subjective and, therefore, the most open to interpretation.

Common signs of paranormal activity:

Sign of Paranormal ActivityPossible Natural Explanation
Unexplained noisesCould be caused by the building settling, animals, or other natural sources of noise.
Sudden temperature dropsCould be caused by drafts, changes in weather, or malfunctioning HVAC systems.
Feelings of being watchedCould be psychological, especially if you’re in a place you already believe to be haunted.
Objects moving on their ownCould be caused by drafts, uneven surfaces, or accidental nudging.
Unexplained lights or orbs in photosCould be caused by dust, lens flare, or reflections.
Electronic devices acting strangelyCould be caused by low batteries, interference, or malfunctions.
Unusual animal behaviorAnimals can behave strangely for many reasons, including illness, stress, or natural instincts.
Unexplained shadows or figuresCould be caused by tricks of light, reflections, or imagination.
Feelings of cold spotsCould be caused by drafts, changes in weather, or uneven heating/cooling.
Unusual smellsCould be caused by natural sources, such as mold, animals, or old building materials.
Physical sensations, like feeling touchedCould be caused by drafts, stray hairs, clothing movement, or psychological factors.
Doors, windows, or cabinets opening or closing on their ownCould be caused by drafts, uneven surfaces, or loose hinges.
Hearing voices or whispersCould be caused by auditory pareidolia, where the brain interprets random sounds as voices.
Seeing apparitions or ghostly figuresCould be caused by tricks of light, reflections, or pareidolia, where the brain interprets random patterns as familiar shapes.
Feeling a sudden change in mood or emotionCould be psychological, especially if you’re in a place you already believe to be haunted.

Pro Tip: Keep a ghost-hunting journal. After each investigation, write down where you went, what you did, and what you experienced. This can be a valuable tool for learning and reflection and provide a record of your ghost-hunting journey.

Ready to Hunt Ghosts?

Ghost hunting is a unique pursuit that combines history, science, and a touch of the unknown. It’s a chance to explore places you might not otherwise visit, to learn about the past, and to question the nature of reality. 

Whether you’re drawn to the thrill of potentially encountering a ghost or the puzzle of trying to debunk reported hauntings, ghost hunting offers a unique thrill.

But perhaps the most exciting aspect of ghost hunting is the unknown. 

Each investigation is a journey into the unexplained, a chance to experience something truly out of the ordinary. This sense of mystery and adventure keeps ghost hunters coming back for more, always wondering what they might encounter on their next investigation.

So, are you ready to start your ghost-hunting adventure? Remember, keep an open mind, stay safe, and above all else, enjoy the journey. Happy hunting!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone hunt ghosts or is it for professionals only?

Anyone can hunt ghosts, but it’s important to approach it with respect and seriousness. While you don’t need to be a professional, you should take the time to learn about proper techniques and safety measures.

What equipment do I need for ghost hunting?

At a minimum, you’ll need a flashlight, a digital voice recorder for capturing EVPs, and a camera. Other helpful equipment includes an EMF detector, a digital thermometer, and a notebook for recording observations.

How do I find haunted locations to investigate?

Start by researching online or in local history books. Look for locations with a history of reported paranormal activity. Always remember to get permission before investigating a site.

Are there any safety precautions for ghost hunting?

Yes, safety should be your top priority. Never trespass, always ghost hunt with at least one other person, be aware of your surroundings, have a first aid kit on hand, and know your limits. If you ever feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to leave.

How can I communicate with ghosts during an investigation?

One standard method is through EVP sessions, where you ask questions out loud and hope to capture a response on a digital voice recorder. Always be respectful and patient when attempting to communicate with spirits.

What are common signs of paranormal activity?

Common signs include unexplained noises, feelings of being watched, sudden temperature drops, and EMF spikes. However, these can also have natural explanations, so it’s important to remain skeptical and look for multiple pieces of evidence.

How long does a typical ghost-hunting session last?

This can vary widely, but a typical ghost hunt might last anywhere from a few hours to an entire night. It’s important to be patient, as paranormal activity is unpredictable and may not occur on your schedule.

Can I hunt ghosts during the day, or is it better at night?

While ghost hunting is often associated with night due to the atmospheric conditions and the quietness, which can make it easier to notice unusual sounds or activities, ghosts, if they exist, are not bound by human schedules. The paranormal activity could theoretically occur at any time.

Are there specific techniques to capture evidence of ghosts?

Yes, techniques include EVP sessions, taking photos, regular EMF readings, and conducting controlled experiments, like asking a spirit to move an object.

How can I differentiate between real evidence and hoaxes?

This can be difficult, as hoaxes can be pretty convincing. Always approach the evidence with skepticism and look for possible natural explanations. 

If evidence seems too good to be true, it probably is. The best evidence is usually subtle and supported by multiple pieces of corroborating evidence.


  • Rich Newman – Ghost Hunting for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started, Llewellyn Publications, 2011.
  • How To Hunt Ghosts.
  • Ghost Hunting in the 19th Century. Science History Institute ‘Distillations’ Podcast Episode 277.
  • Robert Lea – Ghost Hunters Who Use Science Reveal What Other Paranormal Investigators Get Wrong.