IMPORTANT MESSAGE. We need your support now to keep mindat.org running. Click here to find out why.
Log InRegister
Home PageAbout MindatThe Mindat ManualHistory of MindatCopyright StatusWho We AreContact UsAdvertise on Mindat
Donate to MindatCorporate SponsorshipSponsor a PageSponsored PagesMindat AdvertisersAdvertise on Mindat
Learning CenterWhat is a mineral?The most common minerals on earthInformation for Educators
Minerals by PropertiesMinerals by ChemistryAdvanced Locality SearchRandom MineralRandom LocalitySearch by minIDLocalities Near MeSearch ArticlesSearch GlossaryMore Search Options
Search For:
Mineral Name:
Locality Name:
Keyword(s):
 
The Mindat ManualAdd a New PhotoRate PhotosLocality Edit ReportCoordinate Completion ReportAdd Glossary Item
StatisticsThe ElementsUsersBooks & MagazinesMineral MuseumsMineral Shows & EventsThe Mindat DirectoryDevice Settings
Photo SearchPhoto GalleriesNew Photos TodayNew Photos YesterdayMembers' Photo GalleriesPast Photo of the Day Gallery
bannerbannerbannerbannerbannerbanner

Removing Moss From Specimens?

Posted by Jonelle DeFelice  
avatar
Jonelle DeFelice May 17, 2018 01:21AM
Hi all

I just scrubbed three rocks/minerals with a toothbrush... first with an "oil-eater" product that we use for most everything, second with normal bar soap. After all that scrubbing and rinsing, there was STILL some green moss/growth on one of them!

This happens often enough for me to ask:

1) HOW is this stuff STILL stuck to the surface??
2) HOW can I get rid of it and its often-related staining without potentially hurting the rock/mineral?
3) since moss is a living thing, will it die in time if I leave it in a dark, dry place?

Thoughts?
avatar
Douglas Schonewald May 17, 2018 01:28AM
Bleach will kill it permanently. The only way I know to get it off is blast it off with a mini water gun or pick it off manually with tweezers. It typically takes both to get rid of it.
avatar
Wayne Corwin May 17, 2018 01:35AM
Jonelle
Douglas is spot on, bleach and mini pressure washer.
Or bleach and lots of hot sun and stiff brush once its real dead and dryed out.
avatar
Jonelle DeFelice May 17, 2018 02:23AM
Hmmmmm... I assume then that bleach does not effect most rocks/minerals?
avatar
Wayne Corwin May 17, 2018 03:05AM
Correct, mostly just organics.
avatar
Douglas Schonewald May 17, 2018 03:12AM
Here is a solubility chart (lots of stuff in Mindat) https://www.mindat.org/article.php/553/Solubility+Data+on+646+Common+and+Not+So+Common+Minerals

It doesn't include bleach but it should. I've never had anything affected by bleach except clays. It tends to dissolve the glue that holds some clays together. Not altogether bad.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2018 03:12AM by Douglas Schonewald.
avatar
Wayne Corwin May 17, 2018 03:24AM
The one rule I use with bleach is... if your specimen will melt in water, then use NO liquids on it.
avatar
Alfredo Petrov May 17, 2018 04:57AM
Ammonia works on some organic crusts too. For really tough plant matter, when bleach and ammonia aren't strong enough, you can use NaOH solution (aka "caustic soda", "Plumbers' Helper", etc) or KOH. These are sold in hardware stores for dissolving fat and hair and such stuff blocking drains. So use them carefully, because they will dissolve other organic substances like your skin and eyeballs as well.

Caveat: It is often not worthwhile to clean live organic crusts off of minerals, because lichens and other plants attack rocks and greatly accelerate Nature's weathering processes, so most minerals subjected to such growths can be expected to already be superficially corroded.
avatar
Christian Auer May 17, 2018 05:05AM
I also can recommend NaOH over a longer time period. And a hand steam tool give them the rest.
avatar
Wayne Corwin May 17, 2018 05:12AM
Another Caveat: NEVER mix bleach and ammonia together, it generates very toxic chloramine vapors!
avatar
Dale Foster May 17, 2018 07:12AM
Jonelle DeFelice Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
Hi all

I just scrubbed three rocks/minerals with a toothbrush... first with an "oil-eater" product that we use for most everything, second with
normal bar soap. After all that scrubbing and rinsing, there was STILL some green moss/growth on one of them!
This happens often enough for me to ask:
1) HOW is this stuff STILL stuck to the surface??
2) HOW can I get rid of it and its often-related staining without potentially hurting the rock/mineral?
3) since moss is a living thing, will it die in time if I leave it in a dark, dry place?
Thoughts?


Lichen is an issue I often encounter also algae and moss sometimes as well. Trying to just attack them with a scrubbing brush will remove a bit but they tend to be quite stubborn.

I find the best method is to give them a good soak in sodium hypochlorite (bleach) which I buy in 25 litre drums from the local farm suppliers.

After about half an hour it will have killed and loosened the coatings and they scrub away with ease.

See this thread for results on a specimen: Cleaning a mucky Cassiterite

It goes without saying of course to test on a substandard specimen first to ensure the process won't harm the material you are working with.

I haven't personally had any issues with the organic coatings corroding the underlying minerals, but then the material I am collecting is pretty resilient anyway.
avatar
Larry Maltby May 17, 2018 02:02PM
While collecting at the Nebraska Mine in Michigan’s Copper Country, my son and I found an area on the hillside where chunks of vuggy basalt had weathered for eons of time. The mild acid in rain completely dissolved the calcite that usually fills the center of these vugs and they were covered in moss. I noticed some epidote terminations so I put the specimen in the ultrasonic cleaner. The moss loved it and seemed to revive! I took this photo and decided to work on something else.

avatar
Matt Courville May 17, 2018 04:41PM
'...so I put the specimen in the ultrasonic cleaner. The moss loved it and seemed to revive!'

very interesting Larry! I wonder if this principle could be applied to bio-remediation efforts. It might make for a great thesis if thought out some more.;)
avatar
Jessica Guichard (2) May 17, 2018 05:14PM
Larry Maltby Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> While collecting at the Nebraska Mine in
> Michigan’s Copper Country, my son and I found an
> area on the hillside where chunks of vuggy basalt
> had weathered for eons of time. The mild acid in
> rain completely dissolved the calcite that usually
> fills the center of these vugs and they were
> covered in moss. I noticed some epidote
> terminations so I put the specimen in the
> ultrasonic cleaner. The moss loved it and seemed
> to revive! I took this photo and decided to work
> on something else.
>
That is beautiful! I would be tempted to keep the moss on that.
avatar
Jonelle DeFelice May 22, 2018 01:46AM
Interesting info, THANKS folks! Feel free to add to the topic in the future!

HOLD ON, I have another question:
Bleach. It ruins your clothes when you splash it into your favorite t-shirt. I assume that as most minerals don't absorb liquids, the bleach can't effect the color of specimens? Does the bleach have any "cleaning" qualities other than killing off organic growth?

JD
avatar
Dale Foster May 22, 2018 06:46AM
As with any cleaning regime, some materials may be affected by it so always test on a scrap piece first before putting your best material in it.

I have found it can help to loosen some stubborn muck other than organics, but I mainly use it for killing off an loosening lichens etc.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/2018 06:48AM by Dale Foster.
avatar
Alfredo Petrov May 23, 2018 04:36PM
Jonelle, The most common type of bleach is sodium hypochlorite, NaOCl. It destroys organic colours by oxidation. In some minerals it can do the opposite - create colours that weren't there before - by forming a very thin film of oxide on the surface, as on chalcopyrite, for example. So if one is using bleach to remove organic matter from rocks, one should only do that on minerals not subject to oxidation. It won't hurt quartz or feldspar as they are already fully oxidized.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login



bannerbannerbannerbannerbannerbanner
Mineral and/or Locality  
Mindat.org is an outreach project of the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Copyright © mindat.org and the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy 1993-2018, except where stated. Mindat.org relies on the contributions of thousands of members and supporters.
Privacy Policy - Terms & Conditions - Contact Us Current server date and time: September 20, 2018 07:05:12
Go to top of page