figure in the middle of corridor of abandoned building with pink light

Top 10 DIY Ghost Hunting Tips

Sometimes we just want to pack up a few things and head out on an impromptu paranormal field trip, don’t we? Here are some tips so you can ghost hunt on-the-go like a pro! 

Tip 1: Find a Quiet Area

The easiest and most useful tool is the recorder; it can pick up really tiny sounds our ears can’t, like potential spirit voices. The microphones are sensitive to other sounds too, which can drown out the smaller voices, so be sure to find a quiet area and limit your own noise contamination (no gum chewing, humming, whispering, etc).

Close the windows to block out any traffic sounds and windy gusts and howls. Turn off whatever loud appliances you can for the time being to score yourself a deadly silent ambiance. Laying the recorder flat on your open palm can also reduce the loud scratching interference your skin or clothing can make directly up against the mic. Don’t forget to verbally tag the sounds you can’t prevent to avoid confusion when reviewing later! 

girl in red tuque standing by large windows in abandoned building

Tip 2: Get a Great Cheap Recorder

Recorders are going to be your best friend! They’re compact, versatile, and, luckily, they’re relatively cheap – even for really sensitive ones. Find a Sony ICD- PX470 for under $80 and never look back! You’re going to want to adjust the settings to avoid any distortions or dilution of important tiny sounds. Each device is different but we’ve made a crash course for you, so you can find the best product and settings for your ghost hunting needs.

Tip 3: Bring a Friend

Using the ghost hunting buddy system is a good tip for 3 reasons; it’s safer, you have someone else to corroborate evidence, and you have help with setting up experiments. 

Old buildings, and really anywhere that’s dimly lit, are going to present tripping and danger hazards. Having someone there to help you out if you get hurt is imperative. You can still isolate yourself (to become more vulnerable to the spirits) in a corner or room of your own, but having someone very closeby is a must. Also carrying a walkie-talkie or cell phone (although you should keep it off when measuring EMF levels) with you for bathroom trips, or in times you can’t find a buddy, is a good backup safety option as long as you have signal. 

Secondly, the more corroboration, the better. We can all experience distortions to reality, especially when we’re sleep deprived, adjusting to dark settings, paranoid, scared, etc. Our cognitive biases or health issues (like an unexpected psychosis incident) are always on the table, always presenting the possibility of blind spots when trying to accurately interpret objective reality. Having someone to share and validate an experience with is almost as good as having multiple pieces of equipment to capture it. Having all of these things is mint. It’s much easier to rule out a mistaken interpretation or hallucination when another human and a non-bias machine also observed and captured the incident. 

Thirdly, having a buddy around at all times makes the set up and take down of equipment much easier. Work smarter not harder – the more efficient you can be with the logistics, the more time you have to commune with the dead. Everything’s better with a friend! 

Tip 4: Don’t Wear Perfume

You need all of your senses to ghost hunt, including your nose. Sometimes spirits can manifest with scent, so best to stay neutral! Avoid strong perfumes, detergents, aftershave, etc. Use just enough ph-balanced product to mute your own body odors, without overlapping with synthetic fragrances. 

You want your environment to be as neutral and ‘default’ as possible, so you can observe it for fluctuations to its norm. The manifestation of a spirit can imprint the atmosphere with all kinds of sensory effects, including a smell. Common ‘smells from hell’ include sulfur, perfume, cigars/cigarettes, and rotting flesh.

Tip 5: Fundraise for Haunts 

Unfortunately some of the cool spots to investigate charge money, especially for overnights. This is due to staffing/security wage costs, bad publicity insurance, keeping things running longer, etc. Your best bet is to fundraise the money within your community using your skills and talents, while giving back to heritage/disadvantaged spaces in your community! 

Using crowdfunding campaigns online can be another promising avenue. Platforms like GoFundMe or Kickstarter are designed to receive online donations for peoples’ endeavors. Running a bake sale, busking sessions, raffle ticket contests (with merch/local gift boxes), promotional contests, donation drives, garage sales, public investigations, and educational workshops can be a great way to meet fans in person and network, while raising the funds needed to rent out a location or buy new equipment. 

Tip 6: Remain Skeptical

Most of the time you’re going to be able to find a reasonable and mundane explanation for the phenomena that happens. Remain calm and rational and use the process of elimination to figure out what may have caused the event within your environment. 

Ideally you will be able to make a fairly controlled environment (windows closed, doors lock, attendance taken, appliances off, etc), with all known variables noted beforehand, but when this isn’t possible you can deduct the cause of an anomaly later by actively ‘debunking’ it in real time. You may need to recreate the settings to attempt a repeat or turn all the lights on to better see an area, for example. Debunking is a very important fundamental aspect of paranormal investigation, otherwise the evidence you present won’t be interesting or compelling. 

Tip 7: Bring a First Aid Kit

Old buildings and paranormal equipment can be tripping and safety hazards. Being proactive is great, but in the unfortunate case of injury, make sure you’re covered. Wires should be taped down, obstructions moved, emergency exits noted, etc, but sometimes a floorboard lifts or a coffee machine burns you in the wee hours of the night, with barely anyone around to help, so you have to be able to treat yourself adequately enough to sustain you until you can reach a doctor or hospital. 

Tip 8: Mind Your Body

Just like you don’t want to contaminate audio with low ambiguous sounds that aren’t tagged, you also don’t want to obstruct cameras. Be conscious of where your body is in relation to video frames and where your shadow is being cast, so you can tag it on camera.

Night vision can translate shadows and obstructions a bit more abstractly than in daylight footage, so make sure you aren’t contributing to confusing imagery upon later review. Keep your bum out of the lens, be careful not to knock over expensive tripods, and be mindful of the sources of light in any room and where the path is. Refracting light with your body in camera view, or being reflected on metal/glass surfaces, can appear on camera as a moving dark or hot area that can look like a ghostly figure. 

Also, pro tip: don’t wear tight/light leggings unless you want to appear naked from the waist down on night cam! 

Tip 9: Follow Up On Claims

Research is a crucial part of the paranormal investigative process; following up on claims to find out if they’re merely urban legend is step one. Use all your resources including the library, archives, and online to try and back up what they’re saying in detail. While firsthand or secondhand experience can play an important role, even when undocumented formally, it’s often not enough on its own. 

People love to tell stories. Often these stories are rooted in truth and then embellished over time to become more spooky and interesting. Our job is to find the meat; the reality in the myth. Finding the balance between believing in peoples’ experiences and maintaining a healthy skepticism/love for concrete facts is a delicate but important dance.

Tip 10: Be Yourself

Lastly, don’t worry about what your ‘audience’ wants to see or about being entertaining enough. There’s no one out there like you and your investigation style will be innately unique, so embrace it. Your people will be drawn to you organically; those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. 

When you force your character or dramatize events at investigations, it can create doubt and rock the trust you have with your viewers. People can sense inauthenticity *cough* Zac Bagans *cough*…

Just be yourself. It’s enough. Do everything for yourself, the rest will come naturally. If you’re having fun, it’ll be fun for others to watch too. 
Happy hunting novice ghost hunters and pros alike! Follow our adventures on our socials!

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