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Cleaning Specimens

Cleaning Specimens

Hello fellow rockhounds. First and foremost I will not be held responsible for anything that happens to your specimens should something go wrong with any attempt to clean them.

Seeing as so many have asked for information I have decided to create this page in efforts to help. If anyone else has more info feel free to add it. This is by no means a complete guide, many of us have spent lots of time with varying success on cleaning different specimens. Also, be mindful that some minerals are sensative to quick tempature change, so be careful with the water temp!

Here are a few web links to help you with cleaning your specimens. A web search on "How to Clean Rock & Mineral Specimens" will lead you to a variety of cleaning methods. Some are caustic and dangerous, so read and understand everything before you start.

One of the products I use on my quartz and harder minerals like beryl is Super Iron Out (sometimes you will see people abbreviate it as SIO) this is also known as Waller Solution which you can buy the ingredients to make yourself.

Here is the SIO website info:
SIO is safe for all drain, septic and plumbing applications
SIO Home Page Products Info

First I use Distilled Water to soak & clean my specimens always!
I also soak my Quartz and Beryl for a very long time in hydrogen peroxide, then when I've rinsed it well, I put it in the SIO. When you use SIO you should purchase distilled water. Distilled Water has had any minerals etc removed from it. If you use well water or even city water they will contain other minerals and/or additives and can complicate and even ruin your cleaning process. FYI: If that happens it may then be necessary to use Acid to remove the build up from a botched SIO cleaning.

I also change out the SIO after a few days or so and mix up a new batch. The solution is not very stable because it reacts with atmospheric oxygen and will loose its effectivness after a few days. This process can take multiple attempts to reach your desired look. I also keep old plastic & glass containers from Mayonnaise etc to soak my specimens in.

One of the best articles is found on Mindat written by Rock Currier: Cleaning Quartz

Here is the Mindat forum on: Mineral Cleaning and Preparation

Mr John Betts has been a collector and dealer in minerals for many years. Here is a link to John Betts site with his cleaning article: John Betts Mineral Cleaning Article

InLand Lapidary also has cleaning information: Inland Lapidary Article

And everyone should visit the VUG at some point. Here is their article: Cleaning Techniques

Other Items that you can use are:


  • Old plastic & glass containers to soak your treasures in.
  • Toothbrushes “regular and battery operated”. The battery operated ones like the SonicScrubber have different brush ends that can be changed out
  • Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaning Machines
  • Sand blaster with different mediums
  • Garment Steamer or any Jet Steamer
  • Set of Automotive or Dental Picks
  • Denture cleaner (Tablets you can get at the Dollar Store)
  • Toothpaste
  • Dish Soap & Laundry Detergent
  • Peroxide
  • Alcohol
  • Ammonia

With all that being said, you must remember that any secondary minerals may be destroyed by any of these processes. It is always best to try any new cleaning method on a "throw away" specimen first. Some minerals are also water soluble and will be totally destroyed if an attempt to clean them contains any liquids.

One final article on whether to "Clean or Not Clean" your specimens, from Online Minerals

Good Luck
Pocket Rocks!

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
New Event Suggestions February 20, 2015 10:34 PM Jill Perzley C.
Cleaning Specimens April 4, 2014 1:54 PM Lisa
Gem and Mineral Clubs: New England States April 4, 2014 1:45 PM Lisa
Manhan Mines, Easthampton MA August 21, 2013 3:01 AM Jill Perzley C.
CT Geol;pgical Survey Sites June 6, 2013 10:29 AM Jill Perzley C.
Sterling Hill Mines: UVWorld April 22, 2013 7:07 PM Jill Perzley C.
ME Geological Survey Trips: 2013 Lottery Dates January 10, 2013 9:32 PM Jill Perzley C.
Additional INFO BY Meetup Event August 29, 2012 4:25 AM Jill Perzley C.
BMC Trip to Diamond Acres Fonda , NY ept 1-2 August 29, 2012 2:58 AM Jill Perzley C.
Gem and Mineral Show Schedules: New England May 13, 2013 10:49 PM Jill Perzley C.
You Might Be a Rockhound if: July 25, 2012 2:02 AM Jill Perzley C.
Rock systems and mineral associations June 28, 2012 1:13 AM Jill Perzley C.

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