How to Find Water With a Coat Hanger

Updated April 17, 2017

As the science behind dousing, or "divining" as it is sometimes known, is currently unknown, many people believe that it doesn't work or that it is a paranormal phenomenon. When dousing is used for finding water (in preparation for well digging), it is sometimes referred to as "water-witching" and when finding oil and minerals, it is referred to as "doodlebugging." Despite the doubters, dowsers have existed for centuries and have been successful enough that they still exist and find employment in their craft. As John Weldon points out on the In Plain Site website, "Today, dousing is used by medical personnel, public utilities, geologists, engineers, and even the military."

Cut the coat hanger in half using wire cutters. If it is a straight one, like in the picture, cut either side of the curved hanger part and discard that piece. If it is a traditionally shaped metal hanger, again cut it in half. This time however, in addition to discarding the curved hanger part, you will need to bend the wire in each half to increase the angle until it is at 90 degrees.

Use the two halves of the bottom part of the coat hanger as the handles of your water dowsers. Shorten the handles with the wire cutters, leaving them a little wider than the width of your hands. You will have two dowsers, in the shape of an "L." The handle is the smaller part of the wire.

Now, to practice, go to a place where you know there is water underground, i.e. water pipes, a well or even a septic tank.

Hold the dousing rods you have made straight out in front of you. Hold them parallel to each other, facing forward. Also hold them parallel to the ground, although the British Dowsers website says that it is sometimes helpful to let them dip downward a bit to increase the stability of the rods so that they don't swing about randomly.

Hold the handles of the rods relatively firmly, but not so firmly that the rods cannot swivel.

Walk toward the water source and see if you can feel the rods pulling around toward each other. They should cross when you are holding them above the underground water.

Experiment with holding the rods in different ways, with less pressure, for instance, until you feel you are getting a result.

Move onto searching for water in other areas once you feel you have the knack of dousing.


If you have trouble holding the dousing rods correctly, you can use something shaped cylindrically, such as an empty pen case, to hold each handle. That way they can swing freely while you hold them in the right position.


Supposedly, with practice and belief, anyone can douse for water. However, if you are a sceptic, perhaps the exercise will be a waste of time.

Things You'll Need

  • Coat hanger
  • Wire cutters
  • Underground water source
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About the Author

Steve Sparkes started writing professionally in 1982. He was a journalist and photographer for "The New York Waste" magazine for a decade. Sparkes has a diploma of art and design and a Bachelor of Arts in history of art from the South-East Essex School of Art. He also has a Master of Arts in photography from the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts.