Thursday, February 10, 2011

How To Dye Your Own Agates

Agates are one of the most fascinating of all minerals.  Many are prized for their wonderful patterns as much as their colors.  Natural colored agates with the bright colors are not nearly as common as plain boring agate.  Most agate is white and devoid of color so decades ago German lapidarists devised several methods for dying agates.  Some of these chemicals are dangerous and should be handled with rubber gloves.  Always wear safety goggles.  Don't breath fumes. Stones should be less than a ¼ inch thick for best results.  Larger stones may have to soak for months instead of weeks. Preparing your agate:  Clean your agate with warm soap and water (or tumbling) and size it to about 3 to 4mm thick for best results.

To dye your agate...
Red, orange, or carnelian & sard start by soaking it in a solution of iron nitrate and then *burn it. 
Apple green soak it in nickel nitrate and then burn it. 
Blue-ish green soak it in ammonium bicarbonate and just heat it. 
Brown is done by soaking in sugar and then burning.  Soak longer and burn longer to get black. 
Blue is accomplished by soaking in yellow prussiate of potassium and then in iron sulfate.  Blue was the first color to be used in dying agate.  This was done in 1854 in Idar Oberstein, Germany.

*Burning your agate is done by removing it from the dying solution and placing it in an oven on low to dry thoroughly.  After it has completely dried for up to 10 days, then you put it in a crucible packed all around with asbestos fiber or some other non-flammable substance.  Place it in a kiln and gradually raise the temperature to heat it to a dull red and then allow it to cool very slowly.  This process can be repeated if the desired color is not found.

Caution: This article is for informational purposes only, some chemicals can be toxic and or harmful to humans, animals, and plants. Please do not use any chemicals you are not familiar with. Carefully read all caution and warning labels associated with any product you use. Rockpick Legend Co and it's affiliates, employees, and board of directors are not responsible for any harm that may occur while attempting these or other rock experiments. Do not use any chemical indoors. Make sure all chemicals are kept out of reach of small children, and animals. Keep in mind that some rocks may not be able to be heated safely, due to their natural properties. If for any reason you feel you may have been poisoned seek medical help immediately. Be sure to know what chemicals and rocks you are working with. And, as always e-mail us or call with questions.  

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