Is dirt a mineral?

Purification of minerals

Many minerals found in nature are often covered in organic debris or dirt. But unsightly deposits can also occur on minerals in collections that are stored in a protected environment. With the correct and properly applied cleaning, the actual mineral can be exposed, cleaned and its value increased.

Depending on the conditions at the place of discovery, not only can minerals Soil, sand or dust adhere, but also roots, mosses, algae, lichens and other minerals.

The aim of cleaning is to remove these deposits and dirt without damaging the actual crystals. A distinction is made when cleaning minerals between mechanical and chemical methods.

The purification of minerals

As already mentioned, mechanical and chemical methods are available for cleaning. Which cleaning is used depends mainly on the Mineral and its properties or behavior towards liquids and chemicals from.

The mechanical cleaning of minerals

In the mechanical cleaning a distinction is made between dry, wet and especially ultrasonic cleaning.

Dry cleaning of minerals

The principle of Dry cleaning dispenses with all liquids. Instead, be Graver, tweezers, brushes different sizes and degrees of hardness as well as polishing agents are used.

Dry cleaning is especially useful with well defined, compact built crystals at.
The tools used for this are usually made of metal, but can also be made of wood (toothpick) or plastic (toothbrush, disposable interdental brush). For more filigree work, metal tools are preferred, the tips of which are finely worked. In principle, dry cleaning should be done carefully and with low pressure in order to prevent scratches on the mineral surfaces and broken crystals.

Larger rocks or mineral steps can also be cleaned by machine. For this purpose, a metal sponge (Glitzi sponge), for example, is securely attached to a sanding sheet on a drill.

Wet cleaning

General statements that all minerals can be unconditionally cleaned with water are not always true.
Many minerals are water-soluble (halite, ulexite, blödite, jarosite, kernite, kieserite, ettringite, gaylussite, borax, chalcanthite), crystals matt (see okenite) or they form unwanted deposits due to the salts in the water.

That is why studying, i.e. knowledge and understanding of the properties of the minerals to be cleaned, is an indispensable prerequisite for cleaning with water.

In the case of unknown or undetermined minerals, the behavior towards water can be observed at a small point.

Cleaning with water takes place best in Bowls or buckets instead, so that drains do not clog. Minerals with particularly stubborn dirt are first soaked in water.
As an aid can Washing-up liquid be used. Soap should not be used, as so-called lime soap can arise, especially with hard water.
The water temperature of the wet cleaning should lukewarm be. For example, the water-soluble mineral gypsum can also be carefully cleaned in water, since the water solubility is more pronounced at higher water temperatures.

Ultrasonic cleaning

Cleaning with is particularly thorough and quick Ultrasonic.
To do this, the container of the ultrasonic cleaner is filled with water and, if necessary, special cleaning fluids. When it is started up, sound waves are triggered in the stainless steel container. These create vacuum bubbles that attach to the dirt on the steps and loosen the dirt when they burst.

In order to prevent injuries to humans, it is not allowed to reach into the ultrasonic bath with the bare hand. Plastic or wooden tongs and insert sieves and baskets should be used for this purpose.

To ensure that the mineral in the ultrasonic cleaner is cleaned as effectively and comprehensively as possible, the minerals are turned after about a minute. Even if the ultrasonic cleaning is very thorough, not all minerals are suitable for it, including topaz, amethyst, fluorite, opal, chalcedony, dioptase, diamond, erythrin, amber, millerite, boulangerite, emerald, auripigment, atacamite, celestine, crocoite, phillipsite, Rose quartz and titanite.

Water-soluble minerals, minerals with pronounced cleavage, minerals with cracks or inclusions should also not be used in the ultrasonic bath are given.

In addition to the cleaning performance, chemical reactions can be triggered in the ultrasonic device by adding acidic or alkaline cleaning fluids. Limonitic coatings or "disruptive" accompanying minerals can be removed.

Dry cleaning of minerals

Dry cleaning work with the responsiveness of minerals and chemicals.
Here, too, knowledge of the mineral and its chemical sensitivity is a necessary prerequisite.

For example, rhodochrosite, kinoite, and turquoise should never be cleaned with hydrochloric acid.
Azurite does not contain nitric acid.
Wulfenite and barite dissolve in sulfuric acid.
The contact of ammonia and dioptase as well as malachite also leads to the dissolution of the minerals.

If, on the other hand, those minerals are to be removed from mineral levels, dissolving acids are used. Coatings made of calcite or other carbonates can be removed with 5 to 10% hydrochloric or 20% acetic acid. Iron compounds are dissolved with oxalic acid or sodium dithionite.

Organic materials such as moss, algae, lichens and roots can be cleaned with Javelle water, alternatively ammonia water. To do this, ammonia is diluted with water until a 35% solution is created, which transforms adhering organic substances into a gel that can be removed with water.

Black deposits or tarnished silver are removed with up to 0.2% sodium cyanide solution or ammonia solution. Following chemical cleaning, the stages must be cleaned with water in order to rule out subsequent reactions.
The chemicals mentioned are available in pharmacies and specialist shops.

Literature on the subject of "cleaning minerals" - our recommendations *


General safety information

Cleaning minerals can be dangerous at times. Therefore, preventive measures must be taken in advance.

Appropriate clothing While working on minerals, long-sleeved and long-legged items of clothing, which do not prevent possible damage. When working with chemicals, a liquid-repellent apron is also recommended. In addition, worry Cloth or rubber gloves for protection against injuries due to mineral or rock splinters or splashes of various liquids such as acids. In this context, wearing a safety goggles, which is also equipped with protective glasses on the edge of the temple, is indispensable. The reason for this are the splinters or splashes already mentioned. For cleaning work that produces fine mineral dust, a Mouthguard helpful. This prevents the finest particles from getting into the airways.

It should also be used when working with chemical cleaning agents well ventilated rooms be respected. Occasionally poisonous or acrid fumes can develop. Chemicals and their waste apply according to the recycling and waste law as hazardous waste. Accordingly, this garbage that is generated during cleaning work with chemicals must be properly disposed of.

As a lot of chemicals toxic, corrosive, flammable, radioactive, oxidizing or dangerous to health should be informed in advance about possible dangers in dealing with them. Useful information can be found on the containers. It is also advisable to read the topic carefully beforehand and / or seek expert advice. Last but not least, there should always be water nearby. Reactions can be stopped with water by diluting acids with water. The correct procedure is: add acid to the water, never the other way around. In case of emergency, the number is still the Poison control center or fire brigade to choose.

See also:
⇒ Zeolites - minerals used against radioactivity
⇒ Safekeeping and storage of minerals
⇒ Buying and exchanging minerals and rocks

Cleaning with an ultrasonic cleaner,

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Last updated: February 28, 2020

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