Hey, I get it. There are a dozen reasons why you want to know if a metal detector can detect a beer can.
You should know the answer if you’re a beginner detectorist, experienced Digger, or science teacher.
But let’s be honest with each other.
I was young once (don’t ask when). I was 22 years old and had tickets to an outdoor concert in Camden, New Jersey.
My friends and I were bouncing off the walls with excitement.
But, as often happens when you’re young, I was broke. There was no way I was affording alcohol sold at twice the price as you pay at a bar.
So here you are, wondering the same thing I did.
I can confidently tell you that a beer can will set off a metal detector.
But don’t let that ruin you’re fun.
Read along to learn more about why a beer can will set off a metal detector.
This way, you know what you have to do to get alcohol through that magic portal (or electromagnetic field).
Not that I endorse that, of course.
A Brief History of Beer Cans
Before we talk about the beer cans sitting in the fridge at your local liquor store, let’s get into some history.
You see, beer cans have changed over time. The materials are different than they used to be.
Thus, the way a metal detector reacts to them is unique.
So if you’re a beer snob who likes to keep around some vintage beer, your cans will react differently than others when magnetic fields are involved.
To learn how beer cans have evolved, check out the timeline below.
What Material Are Beer Cans Made Of?
Every metal is different. Some are easier for a metal detector to pick up than others.
Because of its cheaper production cost, aluminum is the material used to make beer cans in the US.
However, tin is often the primary alternative for its cost-effectiveness in Europe.
But getting back to aluminum, worldwide beer distributors choose to use aluminum for other reasons than its cost.
For starters, it’s incredibly slim for a metal. This thinning property makes it resistant to corrosion and three times lighter than iron.
And while its flexibility allows manufacturing to come easy, it’s almost as strong as steel.
Now, the essential thing you need to know about aluminum is that it is a good conductor of electricity.
Because of this, metal detectors will pick up the presence of your beer can easily.
Are Beer Cans Pure Aluminum?
Pure aluminum is soft and not ideal for any kind of manufacturing purposes.
For this reason, beer cans are made of aluminum alloy, meaning it is not 100% pure aluminum.
In short, an alloy is a metal composed of two or more separate elements.
This mixture can occur naturally or be rendered through a synthetic process.
For example, bronze is a fabricated metal constructed of tin and copper.
In the case of aluminum cans, aluminum alloy consists of
The remaining consistency of aluminum alloy is generally a mixture of copper, magnesium, or some other element.
In terms of electrical conductivity, even as an alloy, aluminum is a superb conductor. More than adequate for metal detectors to go off in its presence.
To learn more about the detailed properties of aluminum, check out my article on aluminum foils’ effects on metal detectors.
When Did Beer Cans Change from Steel to Aluminum?
As you can see from the timeline above, the material used to make beer cans changed significantly about 65 years ago.
In 1958, Hawaii Brewing Company was the first brewery to switch entirely from steel to aluminum cans.
The following year, two more breweries joined in the fun. One of them being the well-known Coors Brewing Company.
Do Metal Detectors Detect Alcohol?
Metal detectors cannot detect alcohol in its liquid form.
So if you’ve found a container with no metal to transport your beer, there is no need to worry about getting caught.
But, if you’re referring to those mini liquor bottles you usually see on airplanes, that’s a different story.
It’s hard to say whether or not a metal detector would go off with these mini alcoholic beverages.
Mini liquor bottles are generally made of either glass or plastic. But the twist-off cap is often aluminum.
So, if you’re only carrying one bottle with you, the cap alone may be too small for the threshold level of the metal detector.
But any metal on you, like a belt or zipper, would add to the magnetic field and most likely trigger a response from the metal detector.
How to Sneak Alcohol Into a Concert with A Metal Detector
To reiterate, I don’t condone sneaking alcohol into a concert or other event with prohibited restrictions.
But as I’ve already said, I’ve been there. So who am I to judge?
There are several ways to sneak alcohol into a concert with a metal detector. It just all depends on how crafty you’re looking to get.
The critical ingredient for success is using a container made of something other than metal. Generally, this will be plastic.
You’ll have to do your research, but here are some of the more common and creative ways I’ve seen this done.
- Use a plastic pouch or flask
- Pour the alcohol into an empty water bottle
- Use an empty tube of lotion or sunscreen (thoroughly clean it first!)
- Specialty-made containers to look like other personal items
- Pack of tampons
- Deodorant spray
- Tote bag
- Specialty-made containers built into clothing
FAQs About Beer Cans and Metal Detectors
If you haven’t gotten all your answers yet, I tackle a few more questions that I hope get you what you need.
Are Beer Cans Made of Plastic?
Beer cans aren’t entirely made of plastic, but they have a thin layer of plastic (epoxy) lining to protect the can from corrosion caused by the liquid.
This epoxy liner contains BPA. While it is vital to manufacturing cans, there are some health concerns the FDA closely monitors.
Can You Bring Beer Into Disney World?
Disney’s policy is that no alcoholic drinks are allowed in their parks.
You can certainly purchase them once gaining access.
But as you read above, there are many ways to get alcoholic beverages into secured areas.
Don’t use glass containers.
Glass is a big no-no, even when it’s just carrying water.
Hopefully, we’re all on the same page regarding beer cans and metal detectors.
Your cans will absolutely set off a metal detector. So unless you get creative, don’t bring it along to enjoy during an event.
I’m glad I was able to help you set the record straight.
If you’re interested in learning more about getting items through metal detectors, I’ve got a great breakdown on vapes you should check out.
Otherwise, good luck, my fellow party animals!