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Preventing Dehydration

Posted by David Bernstein  
David Bernstein March 15, 2012 08:30PM
I'm not certain that what I'd like to prevent is possible but I thought I would ask. Please don't hurt me.:-D

I have been digging a hole at an old copper mine for several years. Recently, I hit a large area of thick mud. Mixed in with the mud are beautiful partially solidified pieces of Chrysocolla, Pseudomalachite, Azurite and other copper secondaries. Some of the pieces break apart immediately. Some are large enough to take home and wash. And they do look nice for a period of time. But invariably, the pieces dry out, the color fades and they crumble into dust. I'll tell ya, it's really depressing. Because if I could preserve them somehow, I think they would rival anything(Cu wise) found in New Jersey in a long time excluding Native Copper. The pieces I am writing about will be obvious from in the attached picture.

Anyway, if anyone has any helpful ideas, I'd be glad to read them. Many thanks.
open | download - 100_0960.jpg (310.6 KB)
open | download - 100_0961.jpg (261.3 KB)
Alfredo Petrov March 15, 2012 08:45PM
David, How are you storing them? Indoor air can get quite dry, what with heaters in the winter and air conditioning in the summer; even worse if they're in a display case with warm lighting.

I keep some dehydration-prone rare minerals in sealed glass jars with a bit of water (and things added to the water to stop bacteria and mold growing in it), or in plastic film containers, but that's probably not practical for your specimens as they seem rather larger in size than what I typically keep. Perhaps a humidifier might help? Some guitar players in dry environments keep a container with a moistened sponge inside their guitar cases to keep the wood from cracking - perhaps something like that might help inside a mineral display case too? One thing that does not work well over the long term is lacquering specimens.
David Bernstein March 15, 2012 09:33PM
Hi Alfredo, yep, we have a very DRY home. I'm reluctant to put them in a container in keeping with my new rule, if I bring it home, it should be displayed prominently. And I display my minerals on bookshelves without lighting.

Thanks for addressing lacquer. I always wondered about that.
Reiner Mielke March 16, 2012 12:37AM
Try soaking them in mineral oil ( or baby oil same thing). I find that prevents dehydration and in your case will enhance their look as they will appear wet all the time.
David Bernstein March 16, 2012 02:02AM
Thanks, Reiner. Neat idea.
Trevor Dart March 16, 2012 07:33AM
One method I use on desert rose gypsums to stop them drying out and the crystals cracking apart, is to soak them in a mixture of water and PVA glue. The mixture is 10:1 dilution and it can be applied by either dipping the sample into a container filled with the solution, or sprayed on the sample using a hand spray bottle. The sample needs to be well drained off, or drops of glue form around the base. The only issue I have with this, is that it sometimes gives a false sheen to the sample. The glue sets clear and can always be removed at a later date with some warm water if needed.
David Bernstein March 16, 2012 12:42PM
Thanks, Trevor.

Here is another shot. The piece on the left has yet to be washed. The others soaked overnight and then I scrubbed them this morning. The mud is very stubborn.
open | download - 100_0963.jpg (254.5 KB)
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