Ancient debris is one of the most valuable resources in Minecraft, due to it being a source of netherite scraps and thus netherite ingots. It is found in Nether most commonly at Y=15, although mining at lower levels is safer due to lower risk of mining into a lava ocean. While strip mining is still a potential and straightforward way of mining for ancient debris, using explosives is a lucrative possibility due to its high blast resistance. Furthermore, beds are commonly used, as they explode when used in Nether and are cheaper than other explosives. It is also possible to use Ghasts or the Wither to mine, however the player should be careful to not die by their explosions and not to break Ancient Debris with blue wither skulls.
This video compares the methods to find ancient debris, between strip-mining, the bed method and TNT method.
This video shows 5 different methods, with success rate for each method.
Using a diamond pickaxe with at least Efficiency II, the player can instantly mine the netherrack. With the proper angle, this makes it possible to mine while maintaining sprint. The player can then go in one direction until they hit lava, and proceed to mine in another direction. However, it is highly recommended to have multiple potions of fire resistance, as it is possible for the player to accidentally run directly into lava. Compared to using beds or TNT, traditional mining is resource-efficient, as only tools and food are strictly needed. This method allows you to go about 12 blocks per second.
It is recommended to have Mending and Unbreaking III on the pickaxe. This way, the player can mend their pickaxe by mining the quartz found along the way. This allows for the player to mine for ancient debris for as long as they have food. Also, the player should mark the coordinates of where they started mining so they can easily find their way back.
The bed method
This method utilizes the fact that beds, when used in alternate dimensions, explode with a larger blast radius than TNT. It is easy to do, as you don't need to mine a lot. You will, though, use up many beds, requiring reliable wool and wood resources. Furthermore, given the extremely large amount of damage bed explosions deal and the presence of underground lava pools, it may be advisable to bring Totems of Undying, Armor enchanted with Blast Protection and Potions of Fire Resistance to protect yourself. However, these are not required.
- Step 1 - mining
Mine all the way to Y = 15, as there is the highest concentration of ancient debris in the exposed blocks.
- Step 2 - crafting
Place a crafting table and craft a good number of beds. If your inventory is full, put unused wool and planks in a barrel or other storage. If there are any piglins nearby, don't use chests, as they become angered and come attack you!
- Step 3 - main tunnel
Start mining a tunnel. At every 16th block, mine 1x1x5 tunnels (1 block wide, 1 block high and 5 blocks long) perpendicular to your main tunnel at eye level.
- Step 4 - placing beds
Place a bed at the end of the side tunnel.
- Step 5 - explosion
After the explosion, you may find up to 3 Ancient Debris in exposed blocks. Nearby nether gold ore might also break, dropping gold nuggets you can collect, and many more unbroken blocks are most likely revealed by the blast. You can mine these out if you like, but note that nearby piglins become angered if you mine these blocks.
This video explains the process of exploding beds for ancient debris. It also suggests a second explosion which is not necessary, but can increase the chance of getting ancient debris.
Repeat these steps on the other side until you have no beds (or food).
Chunk border mining
Instead of mining at just y= 15, ancient debris tend to generate more at chunk borders. This can be shown by doing F3+G in Java or going to an X or Z coordinate that is a multiple of 16 in Bedrock.
If you've arrived at y= 15 on a chunk border, then you can either strip mine or mine a tunnel then bed/TNT bomb the area.
When doing the strip mine method, mine a 2x2 tunnel then carve out a tunnel as long as you want. This method can potentially break your pickaxe though and miss some debris hidden under the netherrack.
If you want to bed-bomb the area, just do the same thing but after mining your desired tunnel, mine out a few blocks in either side of the tunnel, put a bed and right-click on it which causes the bed to explode and do the same thing on the other side and repeat. The optimal distance between branches is 8-10 blocks.
If you want to TNT mine instead, just mine a 2x1 tunnel as long as you want and you can place TNT on every other block. If you've reached the end, activate the TNT which will cause a massive chain reaction. You can then mine the ancient debris piece by piece although the method is a bit dangerous if you're too close to TNT so make sure to set your distance with the TNT and carry a totem. You can also block yourself in a wall using blast-resistant blocks such as ancient debris or obsidian to protect yourself.