Do Safety Pins Set Off Metal Detectors: Planes, Punk, and Pinning

  • By: Chris
  • Last updated on January 20, 2023
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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Safety pins are like that thing you never think of until you need them. But you end up needing them an awful lot.

Whether it’s to secure a broken zipper, fasten a cloth diaper, or complete your wild ensemble, a safety pin can be as handy as a pocket knife.

But like any other metal object, the interaction of a metal detector raises a few questions.

Will Safety Pins Make a Metal Detector Go Off?

will safety pins make a metal detector go off
Safety pins have the conductive properties to set off a metal detector, but their size limits the chance.

Metal detectors go off when an electrically conductive metal enters its magnetic field.

In terms of a safety pin, its’ metal properties are conducive to setting off a metal detector. 

But walk-through metal detectors are usually calibrated to ignore smaller objects such as a safety pin.

So, even though a safety pin can be detected, it most likely won’t be.

What is a Safety Pin Made of?

Before you catch me generalizing every safety pin, let me be specific.

Modern-day safety pins are made with steel and brass or an alloy alternative.

However, a particular need can require a different safety pin material.

what is a safety pin made of
The common metals used for safety pins are brass and steel. But other materials can be used.

For instance, some other safety pin metal options are stainless steel, hardened steel, nickel, copper, pewter, and even plastic.

This matters because a metal detector can react differently to various metals.

A plastic safety pin will not set off a metal detector, no matter how sensitive it is.

Alternatively, copper is one of the best conductors of electricity and is most susceptible to the magnetic field of a metal detector.

With that said, safety pins are so small that a metal detector won’t go off unless you have a lot more of them on you or other metal objects.

So you punk enthusiast party animals making your way to a concert, be prepared for the alarm of a security scanner.

punk enthusiast party animal
Safety pins aren’t just for quick fixes and diapers.

Will a Safety Pin Set Off an Airport Metal Detector?

While the TSA takes security very seriously, a safety pin isn’t going to set off an airport metal detector.

For the same reasons already mentioned, safety pins are too small to trigger the alarm threshold of most airport metal detectors.

For you newborn mothers concerned about metal detectors picking up diaper fasteners, please don’t give it a thought.

However, the traditional airport metal detector may not go off, but one of the other scanners certainly could.

will a safety pin set off an airport metal detector
Can they? Sure. Will they? Probably not.

Airport security has access to other forms of body scanners like Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines and handheld metal detectors. 

In that case, it’s best to inform the TSA officer beforehand about the safety pin. 

Are Safety Pins Allowed on Planes?

After all that talk about whether a safety pin will or won’t set off a metal detector, I’ve got some good news!

Whether you have them stored in your carry-on luggage or checked bags, you can bring safety pins on a plane.

However, the final decision lies with the TSA agent conducting the screening process.

Does TSA Allow Safety Pins?

does tsa allow safety pins
Generic safety pins are allowed by TSA.

I get it. It’s a little confusing, right? So, let’s discuss it a bit more.

Per the TSA guidelines, safety pins are allowed on planes, but a TSA officer can decide to restrict them at their discretion.

In most cases, it comes down to whether your safety pins are seen as a weapon or a potential threat.

Generic safety pins won’t fit this description.

I covered this more when writing about the TSA rules on enamel pins. But in short, even small scissors are allowed on a plane.

As long as the sharpened point is at most four inches. 

unusually long safety pins
TSA might stop you from bringing it on a plane if it can be used as a weapon.

However, if your safety pin is unusually long, it might draw the interest of a TSA officer and lead to an arbitrary restriction.

Pin Your Hopes on Preparation

Whether or not your safety pins set off a metal detector, the best approach is a proactive one.

If you have any concerns about causing an alarm, or if you do happen to set off a metal detector, alert the security personnel about what they can expect.

You don’t want someone searching your bag and stabbing themself with an unclasped safety pin.

Better yet, store them away in a protective case, especially if you have several.

I’ve tried to inform you of all the relative scenarios. But in the end, the odds are low that your safety pins will set off a metal detector. 

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