How to Hunt for Radioactive Objects in an Antique Store





Introduction: How to Hunt for Radioactive Objects in an Antique Store

About: i like the simple yet complicated things in life. flowers for instance: they are amazing photography but inside they are the most amazing things on the planet. simple and yet so not!

DONT BE ALARMED BY THIS i am a nerd who collects this stuff so dont be scared (this is nothing compared to flying in an airplane)

Step 1: The Usual Stuff You Will Find Is Depression Glass

it uses uranium ore to color the stuff and thus it fluoresces bright green LIKE CARTOON RADIATION GREEN

Step 2: Second Thing You May Find Is Fiestware

fiestaware used to use uranium oxide which was highly radioactive. it was a glaze which meant DONT EAT ACIDIC FOODS OR UR GONNA BE RADIOACTIVE. it emits pretty much pure beta with no gamma or alpha but the radiation is detected at about 1.7 to 2 feet away.

Step 3: And If Ur Lucky, Maybe Some RADIUM

radium clocks used radium with activated zinc sulphide which would glow when hit with alpha radiation. that stuff is long since gone but with radium-226 lasting 1600 years, it will stay radioactive and fluoresce bright green!!! (forgot to upload the pic of only it but with the festaware works too!!)


go to your local antique store and freak out the owners so that you will do them a favor (and yourself)! hope you have fun with all your things (please dont be scared)



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    41 Discussions

    this is cool, only one question what does this meter measure in? i've been looking for a geiger counter and am not sure what unit of measure for radioactivity i should get.

    4 replies

    Radiation given off by a nuclear power-plant would be alpha if that is what you want to test for. Geiger tubes are simple devices usually made of a tube filled with a low pressure gas, normally neon, argon or helium. The tube has an anode rod in the center and a cathode shell surrounding the anode.

    There is a potential difference in voltage between the anode and cathode of usually 400 V with zero current. As the particles enter the end of the tube they ionize the gas causing the ions to accelerate towards the cathode and electrons to accelerate towards the anode, as the ions and electrons accelerate towards the electrodes they collide with more of the gas creating a cascading effect.

    This creates a pulse of current from the cathode to the anode which is then amplified and played as audible clicks. The detector above can detect beta and gamma but the alpha particles cannot go through glass so mica is used to make detectors that sense the alpha particles. Gravity Boy

    True but they also emit gasses that contain radioactive elements that release beta and gama rays also, I did a report on it back in the 70s, wish I could find a copy of that report now.

    What type of reactor did you do your report on, and what was the report's focus?

    Geiger counters usually measure in counts (discharges) per minute. Most of the newer computer controlled ones do some very rough math to come up with milli-Rem or milli/nano-Sievert which is a measure of energy absorbed by living tissue but these numbers should be taken lightly because unless the detector is capable of being energy/type calibrated, and you take into account what inside of you is getting the dose the math is a bit weak. Fun to play with but not something to worry about. So unless you work with REALLY radioactive stuff you'll never get to a place where the amount of exposure would override the math errors.

    I take it you have read the book "The Radioactive Boyscout." He bought a bunch of radioactive antiques and such and ended up with a Superfund cleanup of his shed in the backyard.

    2 replies

    Great read but I would like to point out he had built a neutron generator and was breeding fissile material with no thought to shielding or material controls. No reasonable amount (including a few unreasonable amounts) of collecting of radioactive artifacts will bring that kind of nightmare down on you. For all intents and purposes uranium trapped in glass/ceramic and radium trapped in gauges and watches are pretty safe to handle provided you don't eat it, sleep on a bed of it, or have your underwear made of it.


    Electrons in my salsa? Where do I sign up!

     yup, have not been on here in a while. anything cool and radioactive?

     ebay is the place but i have not seen them in a while.

    also, your icon, it says "caution contamination area do not enter." i have a sign on my door (solid metal) saying the same thing only with radiation signs and no "do not enter".

    got it from a rad nerd nearby...

    im doing good.I want to make a cloud chamber

    This was meant to explain "how" to find them, not "what" they are.

    I presume you get a Geiger counter or something?

     I had a lunch the other day with my aunt and the rest of the family (shes just visiting) and i saw a dark green pitcher, so i borrowed the car and went home to get my DRSB-01 and came back to find it non radioactive. But since there is this rumor going around that there are ghosts in the house. So they were automatically convinced that it was a "ghost detector" :) that was my entertainment for the week...

    How often do you get funny looks walking into an antique shop with Geiger Counter? I used to give speeches to high school classes about nuclear power. I enjoyed sharing the sources of radiation found in nature and in everyday objects.