Other Meters and Equipment
One of the most important debunking tools a paranormal investigator can have that the ghost hunting equipment stores don't sell is the Carbon Monoxide tester. They can be expensive and do need to be calibrated from time to time but what better way to help your client, then to save there life.
Long before we pumped large amounts of cash into IR bullet cameras, digital video cameras etc. we bought a Carbon Monoxide tester / CO meter. During the colder months of the year your house is closed up tight keeping old man winter outside and keeping you and your family nice, warm and cosy. Your furnace or fireplace is cranking out the heat, your water heater is running 24/7 and your gas stove's pilot light is continuously lit and all the while the carbon monoxide is slowly building up in your house.
We us the Carbon Monoxide tester on all of our cases weather winter or summer during the initial walk through while doing base readings and in the middle of the investigation and again at the conclusion of the investigation. Carbon Monoxide poisoning has been found to cause what some mistakenly perceive as paranormal activity, when actually no paranormal activity is present.
Carbon Monoxide has no taste, color or odor, and can be breathed in over a short or long period of time without you even knowing that it is present. Depending on the levels of carbon monoxide that are breathed in to the body, you may suffer short term effects or permanent damage. The reason why carbon monoxide is so harmful is that it displaces the levels of oxygen within the blood, which results in the death of cells and damage to major organs, which are subsequently starved of oxygen. This lack of oxygen in the blood is known as anoxia.
The long term effects of breathing in carbon monoxide can affect memory, brain function, behavior, cognition. just to name a few. It can also cause permanent damage to other major organs within the body, such as the heart. Up to forty percent of those poisoned can suffer problems that range from amnesia, headaches and memory loss to personality and behavioral changes, loss of muscle and bladder control and impairment of co-ordination and vision.
You can't detect a ghost with it but you can possibly save your clients life.
Negative Ion Detector (NID) - This may be used in two ways - to detect the presence of a strong negative Ion count within the location and also to detect high levels of Electro-Static charge in the environment.
Negative Ions have been indicated to be a factor for some time in the possibility of a ghost being present. Researchers have found a correlation between the appearance or manifestation of paranormal and Poltergeist type activity and a high level of negative ions being present, although such a link remains rather vague and a lot more work needs to be carried to establish this correlation fully. The problem being that if there are large numbers of negative ions then there may also be a large number of positively charged ions available too.
Air ions are simply charged air molecules and can carry either a Negative or Positive charge. Negative Ions come from a variety of natural sources such as after a thunder storm or on a windy day. They may also have man made causes such as ionisers and air pollution reducing devices. They are sometimes described as being beneficial to health and well-being and many devices that create and pump-out negative ions are sold for such purposes. It is not within the scope of this article to discuss the relative health benefits or otherwise of air ions however, but for those researchers interested in experiments involving negative or positive air ions then the alternative health 'industry' is a good place to look for items of equipment!
One example of 'reverse engineering' the research has been carried out by some investigation groups who use either domestic or even 'industrial' strength ionisers to produce a huge quantity of negative ions in the hope that by creating an environment that may be more conducive to paranormal activity occurring within a given location they may increase their chances of capturing it. Positive air ions are created by either radioactive decay or as a product normally or 'glowing' heat i.e. flames, radiant heaters and cigarettes.
The Negative Ion Detector simply uses a simple circuit that is pre-set to 'trip an alarm' when the local negative air charge reaches a pre-determined value. The device typically uses an metal antenna or plate as the detector. This is given a pre-determined positive charge by the electronics inside the device and thus attracts negative ions onto the detector from the surrounding air - opposite charges always attract one another. If there are sufficient numbers of negative ions available they may be able to cancel out the positive charge of the detector and thus trigger an alarm. The level is pre-set and arbitrary and on the most commonly available models is not able to be adjusted by the user - as there is little information about how many negative (or positive) air ions may be significant (if at all) then such a device may be of limited value to most investigators.
Another point to bear in mind when one is using such a device is that the information you obtain may indicate that other states are occurring within a location. For example, if the NID shows a high level of negatively charged air ions present then it is also highly likely to be the case that the surfaces within the location such as walls or items of furniture and even the investigators themselves will start to become Positively charged - unless they are properly earthed (grounded). Currently, there is no established link between high numbers of positive ions present and reporting of anomalous activity although such a link cannot be totally ruled out.
Most Negative Ion Detectors also function as Electro-Static detectors - this can be easily shown when one is using a basic model NID. Whilst carrying such a device, that is not connected to a suitable Earth (Ground) the investigator may discover that the device alarm will sound frequently especially if they are walking on a man-made carpet or similar material. In fact they are generating a static-electrical charge as their feet move over the carpet which in turn is sensed by the NID setting of the detection alarm - if the investigator is unaware of this feature of basic NID models they may well interpret the alarms as an indication of high amounts of negative air ions.
Stand-alone Electro-Static detectors - Are rare and only manufactured by a handful of makers - they can also be expensive and difficult to use in some indoor locations. However, they are used by some advanced paranormal investigators as research by several respected researchers has also shown that paranormal activity is linked to the presence of high Static-Electricity levels in the environment. Static-Electrical energy can be naturally found following a lightning strike or close to many electrical devices such as a TV set. It can also be created by something as simple as pulling a garment of man made fibres over the head! Charges created can be extremely high and in the order of tens of thousands of volts which is high enough for the electricity to leap across the air creating the tell-tale sparks to appear as blue flashes.
For those who are interested in pursuing such research then perhaps the most useful of all the devices available is the Air Ion Counter. This device draws air into a special chamber inside the device, that can be charged both positively or negatively. By this means it is possible to obtain a reasonably accurate count of the numbers of both Positive and Negative air ions (measured in quantity per cubic centimetre). By using such a device it is possible to determine accurately the numbers of air ions present and their charge.
Much of this research is very much of a speculative nature and any results may not have any subsequent relevance to paranormal activity. Indeed those groups conducting similar studies have found results that seem to indicate the exact opposite of what was to be expected. i.e. that ghosts seem to shy away from negative ion areas and that Static-Electricity fields may also diminish the amount of reported paranormal activity within a given location.
Recently paranormal investigators have been able to obtain perhaps one of the most useful new tools to support their investigations. This is the
Hot-Wire Anemometer - This small device uses a ultra-thin wire (less than the thickness of a human hair) to measure the movement of air through a room or other space. The Hot-Wire Anemometer can measure draughts of less than 0.2 metres per second (m/s), which is barely detectable by the average person. Such low velocity air movements may be responsible for many apparent paranormal events - such as movement of curtains, suspended light fittings and candle flames. The actual speed of the air flow may be very slow, almost imperceptibly so, but if sufficient volume of air is being moved and it is acting upon a large surface area such as a door for example even heavy doors may start to move apparently paranormally.
In this same category of new tools for the investigator one may include Barometers - there are now many accurate digital models available for low cost. Barometers measure changes in the air pressure. Air pressure is rarely truly static and changes may often be quite rapid - for example during periods of changeable or bad weather. These changes in air pressure can also create unusual and apparently paranormal events to occur including sudden knocking and rapping sounds, popping of the ears and in some cases movement of objects.
Despite all the High technology that is often employed by today's paranormal investigator there is still a lot of useful information that may be obtained from using some of the good old tried and trusted methods and equipment from the past including:
Candles - which are a frequently used tool that offer a very quick check for slight drafts and air currents -candles are cheap and easy to use. Almost the slightest movement of the air will cause a candle flame to flicker but caution has to be exercised as a candle will frequently flicker as a result of the irregularities of combustion. To guard against this we always have the candles in pairs and look for both candles flickering at the same time. Of course there is also the ever present risk of fire with this method and candles should never be left unattended.
Pencils and sticky tape - many cases involve doors that are said to move and it is often difficult to see a slight slow movement with the eye or even a video camera. A good trick is to watch the footage speeded up as small movements become easier to see at the higher speed. However, by simply taping a pencil to the bottom of the door in question and taping a sheet of paper to the floor beneath the movement and distance of movement can be traced by the line upon paper drawn by the pencil.
Flour - Rarely used as it's messy but still a good standby for some investigations. Not as you may imagine to detect ghostly footsteps in the flour but rather to catch human subjects who are somewhere they shouldn't be. Very useful in a 'trigger object' experiment to ensure nobody goes near to it or tampers with it.
Plastic dome - an upturned clear or opaque plastic dome makes an ideal cover for trigger object experiments -again mainly to prevent tampering and also when the trigger object is light and easily moved, like a feather for example, the dome prevents the wind or draughts blowing and moving the object.
There are many items that we use in the course of investigations that are not covered in this article. Some of them are the everyday common sense items that every ghosthunter should already carry about their person and need no discussion and barely even need listing, though for the sake of completeness they are:
A Notebook and pen/s
A Flaslight - ideally with a red filter over the lens.
A Nightvision Scope with 3-D target plotting and tracking
Walkie-Talkie radios are a useful addition to the personal inventory of each member. They provide instant and effective communications between all the team members and also a extra level of safety for each member.
A first aid kit should also always carried.
Each member of the team on any investigation is also aware of the need for appropriate clothing and food and drink to make sure we survive the night!