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A general guide for using the Forum with some rules and tips
Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)
  
  Index -> Conserving, Preparing and Cleaning Minerals
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Ceanna




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PostPosted: Aug 17, 2017 17:05    Post subject: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

Hello,

I've read most of the topics about spot cleaning guns already, but have a couple questions above and beyond what I've already seen.

1: What, if any, precautions need to be taken when using a pressurized water gun on agate? I know they are pretty tough, but I want to avoid dulling them too. (also any suggestions to increase shine without diminishing the agate's size would be appreciated!)

2: For those of you that own spot cleaning guns, regardless of brand or price, what are the things you like about your gun and some things you don't like? These guns are not made specifically for rocks -what about the spray guns makes them good for cleaning rocks and minerals, and what makes them ill suited and only used because there isn't another option available right now?

Disclaimer: I am working on the marketing portion of launching a spot cleaning gun. I will not try to sell you anything, mention the name of the product I'm working on, or make a nuisance of myself- I promise. I'm simply trying to understand this product and its uses more clearly, as I had never picked one up before last week. I'm not here just because of my job, but what fortune to be able to spend time here and call it work!
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: Aug 17, 2017 18:08    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

CEANNA, Welcome to this forum .

I have owned a Chinese made hi pressure gun for a number of years now and use it quite often. Most of the models have a variable spray nozzle. Always start out with the lowest spray pressure (mist) setting. Then only gradually up the spray pressure, concentrating the stream. Practice on some expendable specimens to get the knack of using the gun.
On stout specimens with no cracks you can go up to a hi and concentrated stream, cleaning out the cracks etc. On delicate areas and delicate or cracked examples, stay at the lowest spray pressure mist to do as much as might be possible. The use of a gun will not "dul"l a specimen UNLESS the crystal surface is already pitted and the hi pressure spray then cleans out the pits leaving the pitted surface to look obvious.

Precautions: obviously don't concentrate the spray onto your skin; wear gloves if necessary.

What I like: The variable settings.
What I don't like: The quality of some guns is suspect. They need to be oiled and the springs might need to be changed rather often.

I think you should have a realistic expectation of what might be possible to improve each individual specimen with the gun. It varies.

Hope this is of some help to you. BOB


As an extreme aside, but needing to be said by me at this time, is my thoughts and prayers for you JORDI, and all the people of SPAIN! Best to all, BOB
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kushmeja




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PostPosted: Aug 17, 2017 18:22    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

Spot cleaning guns are spectacular for cleaning any rocks that aren't softer, damaged or brittle, but for softer minerals like Calcite, they will cause damage if you're not very careful and use lower pressure settings.

They work well mainly because they're spraying minute particles of water at very high speed, which can get in between tiny cracks and wedges, and because of the high speed the normally soft water is able to break up and blow away tiny pieces of dirt and mineralization that would be very difficult to remove with hand tools like dental picks and such. The guns are also much, much quicker to use as compared to using hand tools. You're also only using water, which is typically harmless to most minerals.

I don't see why you would need to worry about using them on a harder mineral like agate, unless it's fractured or very brittle, or maybe if you were cleaning very thin slices. If there's no preexisting bad cracks in the pieces that you are trying to clean, I don't think that you would be able to damage the agate in any way with a spray gun, even if you really tried, unless maybe you hit the rocks with the actual gun itself ;) Quartz is very hard. If you are trying to clean softer minerals, it's probably best to test the gun out on a lesser piece and adjust the pressure settings as needed. If it's a brittle and/or broken piece, I would stay away from using the gun entirely and clean with a soft brush probably.

You should always wear safety glasses because the gun will throw any dirt or little broken pieces off in all directions. It's also a good idea to wear at least light gloves, at least until you get used to using the gun, because it hurts like all hell when you spray yourself, even on lower settings.
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SteveB




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PostPosted: Aug 17, 2017 18:27    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

Before the thread gets locked I'll offer some answers.

Spot cleaning guns were designed to work at high pressure to push dirt through a fabric into a rag to throw away. They can cut skin ans water jets are used to cut steel and rock in various industries. Its the friction of the water under pressure and speed that does the damage. Once fragments start to break off they also add to the damage/cutting of a material. For a raw mineral sample they can be good to use from a distance to force water deep into caked on dirts and clays helping to separate them from the mineral specimen, eg agate piece. However the danger is any cracks hidden can have dirt forced into them possibly causing a split. On polished specimens the friction can cause millions of tiny scratches (test this on a glass bottle to see for yourself) these add up to dull the shine. One last factor is the cleaning solution you use, many soaps and detergeants have silica(sand basically) as an additive to be an abbrasive to work away caked on dirt and grime while the soap molecules themselves bind with greases and water to lift and carry them away. Its why dishwashers dull glassware. And you can see for yourself by putting a cup upright in a dishwasher and it will have fine grit in the bottom of it after a wash.

All depends how you use the spot cleaners too, the pressure is highest at the nozzle and low a few feet away, so use some common sense with an appropriate distance for cleaning any mineral specimens. But personally a soak in a bucket with dishwashing liquid for a few days and the garden hose will get rid of the dirt from something you've dug up, most minerals are fine with this. Fine crystals of course can be damaged by any hose so common sense and patience, time and water soaking with mild soaps first and research before using any more powerful cleaners which might react and dissolve some minerals and fossils, and avoid acids until you know what you're doing.
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Ceanna




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PostPosted: Aug 18, 2017 10:17    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

Bob Harman wrote:
CEANNA, Welcome to this forum .

I have owned a Chinese made hi pressure gun for a number of years now and use it quite often. Most of the models have a variable spray nozzle. Always start out with the lowest spray pressure (mist) setting. Then only gradually up the spray pressure, concentrating the stream. Practice on some expendable specimens to get the knack of using the gun.
On stout specimens with no cracks you can go up to a hi and concentrated stream, cleaning out the cracks etc. On delicate areas and delicate or cracked examples, stay at the lowest spray pressure mist to do as much as might be possible. The use of a gun will not "dul"l a specimen UNLESS the crystal surface is already pitted and the hi pressure spray then cleans out the pits leaving the pitted surface to look obvious.

Precautions: obviously don't concentrate the spray onto your skin; wear gloves if necessary.

What I like: The variable settings.
What I don't like: The quality of some guns is suspect. They need to be oiled and the springs might need to be changed rather often.

I think you should have a realistic expectation of what might be possible to improve each individual specimen with the gun. It varies.

Hope this is of some help to you. BOB


As an extreme aside, but needing to be said by me at this time, is my thoughts and prayers for you JORDI, and all the people of SPAIN! Best to all, BOB


Thank you for your response. It does indeed help me. I have been dreaming of getting some of our favorite finds clean, but you are right. Starting with some of our lesser finds makes more sense. I would hate to cause damage to some of our favorites! I love the pits in the outside of agates and often find whole agates around here (mostly small ones), but that rough exterior can be the worst to get clean!
Thank you again. My thoughts and prayers are with Spain as well.
-C
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Ceanna




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PostPosted: Aug 18, 2017 10:29    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

kushmeja wrote:
Spot cleaning guns are spectacular for cleaning any rocks that aren't softer, damaged or brittle, but for softer minerals like Calcite, they will cause damage if you're not very careful and use lower pressure settings.

They work well mainly because they're spraying minute particles of water at very high speed, which can get in between tiny cracks and wedges, and because of the high speed the normally soft water is able to break up and blow away tiny pieces of dirt and mineralization that would be very difficult to remove with hand tools like dental picks and such. The guns are also much, much quicker to use as compared to using hand tools. You're also only using water, which is typically harmless to most minerals.

I don't see why you would need to worry about using them on a harder mineral like agate, unless it's fractured or very brittle, or maybe if you were cleaning very thin slices. If there's no preexisting bad cracks in the pieces that you are trying to clean, I don't think that you would be able to damage the agate in any way with a spray gun, even if you really tried, unless maybe you hit the rocks with the actual gun itself ;) Quartz is very hard. If you are trying to clean softer minerals, it's probably best to test the gun out on a lesser piece and adjust the pressure settings as needed. If it's a brittle and/or broken piece, I would stay away from using the gun entirely and clean with a soft brush probably.

You should always wear safety glasses because the gun will throw any dirt or little broken pieces off in all directions. It's also a good idea to wear at least light gloves, at least until you get used to using the gun, because it hurts like all hell when you spray yourself, even on lower settings.


I will try not to hit my specimens with the gun itself! No promises though, I'm pretty clumsy. I never even thought of safety glasses, but I can see why thats a good idea- especially with rock fragments shooting around. I did spray myself accidentally with the stream a couple days ago and man did it hurt (see above clumsiness comment). Thankfully no injury was had. Glasses and gloves from now on!
Thank you for your comments and suggestions!
-C
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Ceanna




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PostPosted: Aug 18, 2017 10:48    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

SteveB wrote:
Before the thread gets locked I'll offer some answers.

Spot cleaning guns were designed to work at high pressure to push dirt through a fabric into a rag to throw away. They can cut skin ans water jets are used to cut steel and rock in various industries. Its the friction of the water under pressure and speed that does the damage. Once fragments start to break off they also add to the damage/cutting of a material. For a raw mineral sample they can be good to use from a distance to force water deep into caked on dirts and clays helping to separate them from the mineral specimen, eg agate piece. However the danger is any cracks hidden can have dirt forced into them possibly causing a split. On polished specimens the friction can cause millions of tiny scratches (test this on a glass bottle to see for yourself) these add up to dull the shine. One last factor is the cleaning solution you use, many soaps and detergeants have silica(sand basically) as an additive to be an abbrasive to work away caked on dirt and grime while the soap molecules themselves bind with greases and water to lift and carry them away. Its why dishwashers dull glassware. And you can see for yourself by putting a cup upright in a dishwasher and it will have fine grit in the bottom of it after a wash.

All depends how you use the spot cleaners too, the pressure is highest at the nozzle and low a few feet away, so use some common sense with an appropriate distance for cleaning any mineral specimens. But personally a soak in a bucket with dishwashing liquid for a few days and the garden hose will get rid of the dirt from something you've dug up, most minerals are fine with this. Fine crystals of course can be damaged by any hose so common sense and patience, time and water soaking with mild soaps first and research before using any more powerful cleaners which might react and dissolve some minerals and fossils, and avoid acids until you know what you're doing.


I will indeed use the gun on glass to see what it does. Thank you for the suggestion. We have very few polished agates, as we always worry about losing volume. Most of what we find is on the smaller side, although I absolutely have a few bigger favorites. The thing I like about agates is that even the smallest can be filled with delicate and colorful striations, making it a wonderful find. I will also try dishwasher soap. I was not aware of silica being in it, and it makes sense. I have noticed grit in the dishwasher but I assumed it was our hard water. I've only used dish soap in the past, and wasn't satisfied with the clean.
Thank you,
C
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Volkmar Stingl




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PostPosted: Aug 19, 2017 01:01    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

SteveB wrote:
Before the thread gets locked I'll offer some answers.

Why do you think it gets locked?
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James
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PostPosted: Aug 19, 2017 16:15    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

Volkmar Stingl wrote:
SteveB wrote:
Before the thread gets locked I'll offer some answers.

Why do you think it gets locked?


It will only get locked if it gets commercial, and Ceanna says that will not happen.
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Ceanna




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PostPosted: Aug 21, 2017 15:20    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

Here are the pictures of what I worked on Friday. I apologize for the quality of the pictures, I had a setting wrong on my phone and it caused some blur. I'm extremely happy with what was accomplished, though a very small sampling. I think I could get them even better, but a hand injury prevented me from wearing gloves and spraying for too long. There was no way I was going to try it without gloves for that same reason. I could not find an IMA listing for Chalcedony or agate, but these are Lake Superior region agates, found about two hours south of the lake on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin on the Wisconsin side.

Any tips for how to "hold" the rocks other than by hand?



IMG_2220.JPG
 Locality:
Wisconsin, USA
 Description:
This is the before. The right and middle specimens were my main focus.
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IMG_2220.JPG



FullSizeRender.jpg
 Locality:
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 Dimensions: 5cm x 5cm
 Description:
This is after spraying. Much improvement in the "eyes" of my little rock face.
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FullSizeRender.jpg



IMG_2248.jpg
 Locality:
Wisconsin, USA
 Dimensions: 7cm x 5.5cm
 Description:
A lot of material came off this sample, but I believe with a little more time it could be even better, especially in the pink band on the left side and in the holes.
 Viewed:  711 Time(s)

IMG_2248.jpg


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PostPosted: Aug 21, 2017 15:33    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

Chalcedony or agate are forms of quartz!
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Ceanna




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PostPosted: Aug 21, 2017 16:27    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

James wrote:
Chalcedony or agate are forms of quartz!


Thank you! I knew they formed in and around quartz, I just didn't realize that is what they would be classified as!
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Susan Robinson




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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2017 08:27    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

Hi Ceanna,

The agates, which are a form of cryptocrystalline quartz, formed in the gas bubble cavities (geologically, they are called vesicles) in basalt flows in the Lake Superior region. That's why most of them are round, or oval-shaped, with smooth sides. The agates weathered out from the basalt rock and they are usually found in gravel pits, eskers (another glacier feature on the landscape), and along the lake's shoreline. You've found some nice agates of good size.

Susan Robinson

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Ceanna




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PostPosted: Aug 25, 2017 10:36    Post subject: Re: Cleaning with Water/ Spot Cleaning Guns (Agate?)  

Thank you Susan. My husband and I have been collecting for a few years, but I just recently joined the site. We are extremely fortunate to live in such an agate abundant area, as they are a favorite of both of ours.
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