How do ghosts turn flashlights on and off?

Ghosts and flashlights… they’re an interesting mix. Can ghosts really communicate by turning your flashlight on & off?

Here’s my answer.

Ghosts don’t actually turn the flashlight on and off. Not with a switch or lever, anyway.

Find out how ghosts turn flashlights on & off.The effect comes from a loose contact between the batteries and the light bulb.

A ghost might be able to move the flashlight just enough to make the light blink on for a split second.

Or, ghosts might generate EMF energy. That’s a popular theory. If it’s true, a small amount of energy might reconnect the battery and the light bulb.

Either way, some ghosts and flashlights seem to have a connection (no pun intended). Ghosts might be able to communicate through a loosened flashlight. That’s how it’s looked in tests on TV and in the field.

Fiona's adviceUse the kind of flashlight that turns on and off with a gentle twist of the flashlight case. The Mag lite brand is the most popular.

But, inexpensive clones can work just as well, as long a the flashlight has a metal case, not plastic or resin.

Note: I’ve talked with the staff at Mag lite. They were baffled by my questions. They wouldn’t tell me which metals are in their flashlight cases are proprietary. Still, they insisted that conductivity wasn’t likely.

So, any flashlight may work equally well.

How to get the best results with ghosts and flashlights

Here are steps to use a flashlight to communicate with ghosts.

  1.  Turn the flashlight on.
  2. Twist the case just enough so the flashlight is off.
  3. Gently shake the flashlight. If the light flickers on and off, the setting is right.  (If it won’t flicker easily, adjust the case until it does.)
  4. Place the flashlight on a level surface.
  5. Then, instruct the ghost to reply to questions by briefly turning the light on if the answer is yes. (Or whatever directions you want to give to the ghost. It might be “signal once with the light for yes, and twice for no.”)

This kind of real-time communication can be exciting and produce remarkable results.

Sadly, there’s at least one big problem:  This is far from actual, scientific evidence.

Heavy footsteps, a passing truck, a nearby train, or music with a heavy base can be enough to make the flashlight flicker.

In other words, a blinking flashlight isn’t proof of anything, even if it seems eerily accurate and consistent.

How I begin each flashlight session

Generally, I ask questions with known answers: “Is my name Fiona Broome? Flash the light once for yes.”

Then, “Flash the light once if I’m male, twice if I’m female.”

(I mix things up. I want to be sure the flashlight isn’t responding to footsteps in a nearby room, or infrasound from trucks or an underground stream.)

I’ll continue questioning the ghost for several minutes. (You could think of it as “establishing rapport” rather than commanding the ghost to perform.)

“Are we in [name of location]? Flash once for yes.”

“Did George Washington (or some other impossible name, like Queen Elizabeth II) live here? Flash once for yes, twice for no.”

If the answers aren’t at least 75% accurate, I don’t bother with a flashlight “seance.” The controlled responses must be more accurate than a coin toss.

If the flashlight responds accurately enough, I set up my equipment nearby.

Confirming flashlight responses

My usual tools include EMF detectors, real-time ghost communication devices, and EVP recorders. We set them up and resume our investigation.

We continue to ask questions, and check our other tools for anomalies that happen at the same time as the ghost seems to flicker the flashlight.

Flashlight communication with spirits can be exciting.  However, I believe you need more evidence, collected at the same time.

After our investigation, I look for documented history that supports or refutes what the ghost seemed to tell us via the flashlight.

Unless historical evidence exists, the rest is speculation. It might seem reliable, but I’m looking for more than just a consensus from a loosened flashlight and a few other tools.

I want something on paper that’s independent of any ghost investigations. That means census records, vital records (birth, marriage, or death records), court documents, and so on.

This article wandered far from the flashlight topic. However, “talking” flashlights are such unreliable evidence, they shouldn’t be your only focus in an investigation.

Besides… if the ghost really is that communicative, you might miss other investigative opportunities, like EVP and ghost photos or video.

But yes, flashlight communications can work. And, as part of a pre-investigation visit – or during your regular research – the answers can help you identify your ghost and why he or she haunts.

Author: Fiona Broome

Fiona Broome is a paranormal researcher and author. She describes herself as a "blip analyst," since she explores odd "blips" in reality. But mostly, she investigates ghosts and haunted places.

10 thoughts on “How do ghosts turn flashlights on and off?”

  1. Got news for the doubters which I was. I am 54 and never had this happen before. I have a new combat flashlight. You can’t shake it and make the light come on. It takes pressure to switch on. I found it on, on my night stand one night and again 2 nights later. I live alone to honestly no explanation for it. Aside from that there been other things but this one I couldn’t explain away. Sleep tight.

    1. Thanks for your insights, Doc!

      I was skeptical about flashlights as real-time communications tools, until I saw one reply with high accuracy. Then, I changed my mind, and I’ve used flashlights – with accuracy checks, described in my article – on several investigations.

      Of course, the question remains: Who is replying to us? Is it a ghost, or is this the product of wishful thinking (by someone in the room) gifted with PK? And, if it is something spiritual, is it benign? Is it telling the truth about things we can’t double-check? Or, is it lying with a sinister intent?

      Like many ghost hunting questions, the answers can’t be guaranteed.

      However, I enjoyed your story and – after reading it – I’d think twice about keeping a flashlight on my night stand. LOL

      Cheerfully, Fiona

    2. Nope. It takes the metal wire inside heating up and expanding and then contracting. Its simple thermodynamics.

      1. micah, yes, that’s one reason why a flashlight could go on & off. A loose connection (as I explained in my article) is another explanation, and one technique some ghost hunters use. But, I resist one-size-fits-all answers in paranormal research. Yes, thermodynamics can be involved, but that’s a normal explanation. As researchers, we try to rule out that sort of thing. So, I take Doc Holiday’s report seriously, because Doc isn’t likely to report something unless everything normal has been ruled out, first.

  2. Hey Fiona,

    I absolutely love the flashlight method. I preferred the candle one because it creates a better atmosphere, but to be fair, using a flashlight seems like a more accurate technique.

    I’m actually going to try it out on my next ghost hunt.

    Do you just use a regular flashlight?



    1. Hello, Oscar!

      Thanks for your insights. I use a regular flashlight. Candles do create a wonderful atmosphere, but they can be influenced by so many things, I trust flashlights a little more.

      Cheerfully, Fiona

    1. Heather, if it makes you feel better to believe that video, that’s fine.

      Describing all paranormal flashlight communications as “fake” is not okay.

      The guy in that video is talking about exactly what I mentioned: normal phenomena that can turn any loosened flashlight on & off.

      That’s very different from doing regular checks to be sure the answers are timely (within a couple of seconds of asking the question) and accurate. (As I said in my article, I use questions that I already know the answers to.)

      Whether you use a single on-flash for “yes” or one flash for “yes” and two for “no,” I believe you can get intelligent replies in some haunted settings.

      Since writing this article, I have heard from a few people who had success with plastic flashlights. I prefer metal as – if we’re assuming there’s an electrical (EMF) energy related to ghosts – the metal probably makes their replies easier.

      Two notable, normal things can affect flashlights, which is why – in this article – I said, “I want to be sure the flashlight isn’t responding to footsteps in a nearby room, or infrasound from trucks or an underground stream.”

      If I can’t resolve this with the Q&A test sessions, tools can be used. First, you can use any device intended to measure small vibrations. In addition, you can set up an EMF meter nearby, and see if any naturally occurring power surges (from clocks, TVs, etc.) might affect the flashlight. (Infrasound is below 20 Hz, and – at the time of this writing – requires laboratory equipment to measure with accuracy. However, you can use maps – street and geological surveys – to see if traffic or underground streams might be an issue.)

      Suggesting that “flame is better” overlooks issues that candles share with flashlights. Most notably, vibrations and infrasound can affect flames. And, while you can use a candle lantern or a glass shield (often called a “hurricane”) available at most stores that carry lots of candles, I’m sure you’ll find people “debunking” candle communications with spirits.

      I do use lit candles to check for drafts – from windows, doors, and electrical outlets, etc. – that could create a false cold spot in a room. However, I rarely use them for direct communication with spirits. If someone is startled by a ghost – a “Dude, run!” moment – and the candle was knocked over, a fire could start. That’s a risk I’m not willing to take.

      Mostly, it’s not helpful to use generalities like “everyone” in ghost hunting. Everyone does not use metal flashlights.

      And, if you’re trying to prove that ghost hunting is “fake” or ghosts don’t exist, you’ll find plenty of happy debunkers, practically salivating over what they claim is proof the paranormal does not exist.

      It’s fine if you’ve already found the answers you’ve sought. Many of us have had extraordinary encounters with spirits and we’re still exploring this field, to better understand it.

      This website isn’t for people who are determined to prove us wrong, and contrive half-baked scientific explanations to insist that our research is “fake.”

      Sincerely, Fiona

    1. Well, yes, if it’s a “trick.”

      That doesn’t debunk all real-time communications via flashlight.

      Almost every kind of paranormal activity can be explained, if someone is a dedicated skeptic. That doesn’t mean that ghosts (or angels, or Deity) don’t exist and don’t communicate with us, at times.

      If it makes you feel more comfortable to think that all paranormal activity is fake, that’s fine. Those of us who believe in spirits have nothing to prove; we just know when we’ve encountered something extraordinary, and it’s best explained in paranormal terms.

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