Supernatural Magazine

Kicking It Old School Part 2

A few years ago when I was the co-host of Paranormal Underground Radio, I did a bit on air comparing the price of Ghost hunting equipment with the price of diapers. I don’t really remember the exact figures, however I do remember this, and Ghost hunting gear can be unbelievably pricey.

Over the last decade an entire industry has grown up around gear to hunt ghosts. Now, if you’re anything like me you love investigating claims of ghosts and hauntings but you run into a problem, you love it but your wallet does not. And presumably neither does your significant other. But fear not, you can have your spectral cake and eat it to. You can still go out looking for spooks, spectres and ghosts and do it on the cheap. These techniques may not be high tech, even seemingly primitive but I assure you these techniques have been in use for over 130+ years and are just as effective. You, your wallet and your significant other will thank me.

Water bowl Ouija Board

The Ouija board is not something that gets a whole lot of good press. You can pretty much expect people to turn tail and run believing a piece of wood with letters on it is somehow going to tear open an inter dimensional rift between here and hell. However, there is an alternative to the infamous board of doom. All you needs is a bowl filled with water, a cork, a needle and two slips of paper.

Water bowl Ouija board is a technique that I have seen used a few times. What you do is take a glass bowl and fill it with water. Then you take a cork from a wine bottle and place a needle in the cork. Then write the words yes and no on the slips of paper taping them to the side of the bowl. Then start asking your questions. It’s as simple as that.

The idea behind the water bowl Ouija board is to ask simple yes or no questions. If a spirit is present it can manipulate the cork and needle to point towards an answer. Just make sure that there is no breeze blowing over the bowl as it could give you a false positive. It’s a nifty technique using every day household items and unless you have to go and buy the materials it won’t cost you a dime.


For thousands of years people have been using compasses to guide their way to their destination. The compass uses the natural magnetic field of the Earth and is an ancient, low tech GPS system. And apparently it can be used to hunt ghosts as well.

The biggest theory concerning spirits is that they are either made up of electromagnetic energy or they can manipulate the EM field. The theory is you can find EM fields with a compass. I have used compasses in my own investigations and have watched as the needle spins around wildly when in contact with a spirit. You can even ask questions of the spirit asking it to spin the needle right or left for yes and no answers. So before you drop a boat load of cash on a K2 meter or the pricey trifield meter, consider first buying a five dollar compass.

Strips of Fabric

Say you’re on an investigation and your client states that they feel a cold draft move through a room almost as if a person is walking through it. My favourite method to see if there is any truth to this is to hang strips of fabric from the ceiling. If there is movement, possibly from a spirit walking through the room, you’ll be able to observe the movement as the fabric sways.

On an investigation about fifteen years ago I watched as something moved through the fabric even stopping on command. Just be sure that windows, doors and heating vents are sealed off to prevent any false positives.

Baby Powder

A tried and true method I have used for many years is spreading baby powder on floor to see if you can pick up any footprints. Although this technique is somewhat messy, it can be used to not just detect ghostly footprints but the footprints of small animals that might make a person think they’re hearing footsteps. Just be sure you get the homeowner’s OK and be sure to clean it up when you’re done.


I have never actually used this technique but know a few people who have. Light a candle and place it in a transparent vase or hurricane lamp. The premise being that a spirit can manipulate the flame making it brighter for a yes answer and dimmer for a no. Again, with this you might want to get permission before using this technique since fire is involved.

Concierge Bell

Another fun technique is using a concierge bell when asking questions. I have only used this technique a few times and got some great results. Place the Bell on a flat surface and attempt to make contact. Ask the spirit, assuming one is present, to ring the bell twice for a yes answer and once for no. On one investigation I watched in amazement as the little button went down clanging the Bell. It’s a fun way to establish contact and has been used by investigators for many years.

Some might read these low tech suggestions and think, “Why would anyone use such primitive techniques?” Well the great thing is, you can use these along with your thousand dollars’ worth of equipment. Such techniques can only enhance your investigations. So go ahead and experiment because that’s what this is really all about, experimentation.

Rick Hale

Rick Hale

Rick Hale has spent his life in the pursuit of the unknown after witnessing an apparition at his grandparents’ house on the north side of Chicago.

Over the past 20-plus years, Rick has been on dozens of investigations with large paranormal groups to being completely independent.