Helpful Rockhounding Tips

Helpful Rockhounding Tips

by Ritika

Rockhounding is for those who love to collect rocks and minerals from their natural environment as a recreational hobby or sport. It starts when you chance upon a beautiful stone which you pick up. Humans are very curious by nature so your curiosity about its origins is bound to get aroused at some point of time. Talk to a few people and you’ll find there is a whole world of rockhounders there who love to do what you just did but they go the whole gamut.

Rock CrystalsRockhounding is for those who love to collect rocks and minerals from their natural environment as a recreational hobby or sport. It starts when you chance upon a beautiful stone which you pick up. Humans are very curious by nature so your curiosity about its origins is bound to get aroused at some point of time. Talk to a few people and you’ll find there is a whole world of rockhounders there who love to do what you just did but they go the whole gamut.

Rockhounders clubs flourish in practically every town, county and city and there will always be old-timers who will give you important tips and handy hints on how to get the best out of this hobby. Read up on petrology, geology, rocks and minerals and kit yourself out with a rock hammer, gloves, safety goggles, water, a book depicting rocks and minerals and their features, a first aid kit, food for you and fuel for your mode of transport and you are a ready to go rock hounding.

RockhounderBesides the slew of precautions you have read about and been informed about there are a few other aspects to rock hounding that are good to know especially if you are planning to go in to this hobby full time. It would be a good idea to read up all you can about lapidary, working with rocks and minerals, facts to keep in mind about the various characteristics of various rocks and minerals, how best they can be cleaned and polished, tools required for cleaning and polishing etc.

As you gain experience in rock hounding, your collection too keeps growing. Soon you will have quite a nice little assortment of rocks and minerals. There are lots of aspects to cleaning and polishing of rocks and minerals. Given below are a few tips and hints that might help you as you learn on the job.

Did You Know?

* Cleaning Stones is an art by itself. Eyeglass silicon treated tissue removes fingerprints from stones.

* Flush the dirt to the surface using toothpaste that has fluorite. It can penetrate brick, terracotta, ceramics and stone easily. The dirt can then be rinsed off with water.

* Desert roses and best cleaned using a solution of “axion”. Soak overnight, brush gently and rinse in clean water. This is an easy and safe method.

* Ultrasonic cleansers are used by some professionals but there are some stones that must not be cleaned in this manner. They are stones like pearls, lapis, opal, coral, tourmaline, mother-of-pearl, emerald and turquoise, agate, topaz and malachite.

* Fluorite should never be cleaned in warm or hot water because it will wash off the luster and it will never come back. A better idea is to put in ‘muriatic acid’ which will remove the calcite and then rinse in cold water.

* Pyrite, quartz and other silicas are best cleaned with radiator cleaner DuPont No.7. Use one tablespoon for one quart of water then rinse with silute ammonia and a final rinse in clean water.

* A good soak in water and ammonia will clean out lichen and algae from your rock samples.

* If you want to see what’s inside your stone then before you commence faceting drop them in some oil of cassia or cinnamon. All flaws and inclusions will be visible as the refractive index of these oils is very similar to that of most gemstones. The surface irregularities disappear, making it easy to see.

* Jade and other soft stones like aventurine and tiger eye, can be effectively polished using a wet 600 sanding cloth. Once done, apply the No. 1200 metal lapping compound, available at any auto supply store, to one inch of a leather lap and work the stone, you will find that the stone gets a dull polish which can then be given a good shine using cerium oxide or tin.

* Peridot is best worked on suing a 260 to grind, 1,200 for pre-polishing and then with Linde A on a type metal lap or a tin lap.

* Malachite can be cut using a saw. This is soft stone so it’s best to keep away from the direct parallel of the grain by about ten degrees. By doing this you will get the bull’s-eye effect when you dome the stone. Wear a mask while grinding as the flying dust is toxic and grind on a well worn out 600. Give it a final polish with “ZAM on hard felt” the more you polish the better the stone becomes.

* Fire Agate is really a chalcedony which has a layer of iridescent limonite that is trapped in-between the chalcedony layers. You need to be careful when working with fire agate. Start your grinding slowly suing a 100 grit wheel. The “fire” is the dense spot inside where the iridescent limonite is. Once done, grind on a finer wheel so you “fire” is seen more clearly and clover to the surface. Be careful you don’t sand away the “fire”. Finish off with a leather buff using tin oxide.

Interesting facts

* Molten rocks are responsible for the formation of topaz, emeralds, diamonds, and rubies.
* Ground water evaporation is what forms opal, amethyst, quartz and turquoise
* Metamorphic re-crystallization makes garnets and staurolite.
* Of all gemstones jade is the most durable.
* Wear opals, pearls, amber and turquoise carefully as they scratch easily.

These are just a few tips and hints on polishing and cleaning of rocks and minerals. Read up all you can before you commence with the cleaning and polishing for best results.

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