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Searles Lake hanksite stored for 20 years

Posted by Thomas Yancey  
Thomas Yancey February 10, 2019 08:46PM
When I acquired a group of hanksite crystals I wondered how long they would remain in good condition and started a casual experiment to determine if oil coating would be effective in preserving them. The answer seems to be that oil-coating of specimens exposed to air does a reasonable job of protection and does slow down the alteration process. The observations began upon receiving a group of 2-3 cm size crystals from Mike Rauschkolb collected at an annual dig in 1998. Starting on 1 February 2000 several specimens were wiped clean and treated or left untreated before mounting for display. There are two types of hanksite, clear to white crystals with a slight tan tint and grayish crystals with a light gray coloration from included mud. Some samples of clear crystals were oiled and others left un-oiled. Some samples of the grayish crystals were oiled and others left un-oiled. The oiled clear crystals are the ones that have preserved the best.

After ten years there was a clear difference in preservation of the clear and gray-included crystals, with the grayish ones showing some to much alteration. The un-oiled gray crystals had enough white alteration product to be undesirable to keep in a collection. The oiled gray ones were OK but needed some cleaning. The un-oiled clear crystals were in a similar condition to the oiled gray ones; showing some alteration but not much. The oiled clear ones were still in good condition with only slight signs of alteration. They only needed to be lightly wiped.

Now, after 20 years the gray crystals have much alteration product on some areas and are not desirable as collection samples. The un-oiled clear crystals show thin patches of alteration and the oiled clear crystals have some light patches of alteration and need to be wiped, although crystal faces are in decent condition. The gray included crystals are less stable than the clear ones.

These have been stored in the variable climate of central Texas that is semi-arid part of the year and wet part of the year. This year has been quite humid for nearly 6 months of what is commonly a dry time. The specimens have been stored inside 2 X 2 X 2 inch Perky type boxes that contains relatively uniform air mass around the crystals to buffer climate variation but are not air tight and not as good as a sealed container.

I conclude that hanksite survives fairly well if lightly oiled and is worth keeping in a collection.

As a follow-up note, the boxes I used are the 2 X 2 X 2 Perky style boxes made by David Shannon. If anyone has a supply of them that you would be willing to sell to me, I be glad to have them. There has been no production of them since soon after David died and the molds for casting were lost as well as the remaining stock abandoned and lost. The business encountered some rough times after David died. The boxes were made to David's specifications and for the storage of miniature size specimens. They are ideal for miniature size specimens.

Tom Yancey
Keith Compton February 11, 2019 07:51AM

I have a reasonably large Hanksite that has not been oiled and has been kept under a perspex dome - not quite airtight but reasonably. It has a very slight alteration in between the xls in the group, which was there when I acquired it and has remained unchanged. I acquired the piece in 1975.

I have a Hanksite specimen acquired around 4 years ago that was oiled when I got it and I have had to reoil it twice since then yet it has been kept in similar circumstances, only in a square perspex box.

The climate here varies from mild Winters, reasonably moist through Autumn, Spring to very hot dry humid Summers.

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