My Honey Calcite Crystal Mining Experience

Hibiscus Moon geology, Mother Earth, Videos 9 Comments

Crystals in Florida?

You know I went a long time thinking that there were no crystals to be found in my home state of Florida b/c its too geologically young & for most of its history it’s been mostly underwater as part of a shallow sea bed. It wasn’t until about 33.9 million to 23 million years ago that sea levels dropped and Florida finally emerged from the sea.

I know, I know. That sounds like a hella long time ago, but compared to most other places, that’s relatively recently.

But a few years ago I discovered that just ain’t so! There are indeed crystals to be found in Florida.

Florida has huge limestone deposits leftover from the Pliocene & Pleistocene Era of Florida’s past… back when it was still living under a large shallow ocean…& that era has left behind large 2 million year old fossilized clam shells encrusted with honey calcite in Ft. Drum, FL. 

During the early Pleistocene era, this was the location of the Atlantic shoreline.

On to Ft. Drum!

Honey Calcite
Calcite comes in many colors and a while ago I did a video all about some of the different kinds… (oh my, so old & embarrassing this video is):

Starting here I go over honey calcite’s specific healing properties.

How These Crystals Came To Be
After the animal living inside the clam shell (Mercenaria permagna) was long gone, calcite crystals  began to crystallize from within. How? Well, in Florida mangroves tend to grow along shorelines. At some point, the calcium in the clam shells leached out due to the acid-rich tannins from those mangroves and the hollow areas within the shells provided the perfect crystal growing hollow area.

A gorgeous golden Honey calcite to be exact.

[caption id="attachment_18652" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Fairly recently, workers discovered these amazing SPARKLY specimens while digging up limestone to be used for construction purposes.

This is the area:

The original dig site was known as Ruck’s Pit & the story goes that in 2008, the family who owned the property decided to close it down & allowed it to flood making it now inaccessible.

This is a specimen found at the original location with that characteristic dog-tooth calcite formations.  So gorgeous, right?

[caption id="attachment_18653" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]BUT, apparently a lot of the material that was dredged out was moved to another property, now known as the Fort Drum Crystal Mine (although that name is really a misnomer b/c it’s not really a mine at all). Piles of the mined material (tailings) are brought out for visitors to a “staging area” on a farm (that’s what you saw in my above video) allowing visitors like me & my family to dig through. 

There are different tailings that are dug from various levels from the original pit so it’s wise to check them all out. 😉

I have to be honest & tell you that I didn’t love the idea that we were digging in an inauthentic site. But I guess I should be grateful that some of the material was saved for us to sort through & have the experience of discovering some of the gorgeous calcite there.

This is the sign you’re greeted with when you reach the Fort Drum Crystal Mine

Be Prepared

I recommend you bring the usual array of mining supplies, although they do have some tools for you to use there. I have a blog post here about that.

I’d also recommend bringing lots & lots of water + a packed lunch in a cooler (it gets HOT out there… & there are no food trucks or restaurants close by). There’s a bathroom, but don’t expect it to be very nice… if you know what I mean.

You might also want to bring a change of clothes for your ride home b/c  you tend to get pretty muddy!

You can expect to find lots of partial clam shells with a small calcite crystal filling, like a glittery coating inside the clam…but the larger dog-tooth calcite that used to be mined from the original location is probably all gone. 🙁

BTW, if you’re looking more for the spiral, cone-shaped type shells, those are also very hard to find. We didn’t find any.

If you think you’re going to find the entire clam shell in good condition filled with golden honey calcite…worth hundreds of dollars…well, we didn’t find any of that either & didn’t see any of the other people finding that material either…unless they were keeping it on the down low. 😉

Not to say that what we did find wasn’t lovely & gorgeous!
Was it Worth Going?
Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

It costs $60/per person/for the day. Kids are less. Yeah…OUCH! Very steep for mining, IMHO.

You’re allowed to mine as much as you wish, unlimited (although I’ve seen others say that you were only allowed to fill a 5 gallon bucket. We weren’t told that, but then again, we didn’t leave with anywhere near that much material)…and despite the website saying that the “mine” is only open until 5 pm…he told us we could stay until dark.

All in all, I’m glad we all went. It was a great experience, but I wouldn’t go back & do it again. Did it.

I’d rather check out other areas to mine.

Now would I go back to Hot Springs, Arkansas to mine quartz? You better believe it! In a hot second!
How to find mines near you

Just Google it!

  • Type in the name of your area and “mining” and see what comes up. You may have to do a road trip a few hours out of your way, but it’s an adventure!
  • There’s a listing of mines for most US states listed here
  • The TOP Spots in the US are listed here
  • And if you really want to get into it you can join a local rockhound club and go with them on regular field trips!

And just in case anyone wants to talk about the ethics of mining… b/c that usually comes up when I talk about this stuffs… and that’s OK, b/c it’s an opportunity to discuss & educate, here’s my blog post all about that. 🙂

Have you done your own Crystal Mining?  Been to the Fort Drum Mine? Or a local Mine near you?  What crystal treasures did you find?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

Crystal Blessings,

Why Volcanic Crystals are More Tempting than a Cinnabon

Hibiscus Moon geology, science 5 Comments

So Cinnabon’s are tempting. I stay away from them like the plague, but tempt me, they do…none the less.

Curse you, Cinnabon!

Volcanic crystals are also indeed very tempting…once you understand a bit more about them.

More than a cinnabon, you ask?

I think so, yes. And after you check out this week’s blog post, I think you will too. And, unlike, a cinnabon, they’re good for you!

Here’s an interesting crystal-question to ponder:

In this week’s video I go over why we need not be concerned with the “volcanic” origin & perhaps…it’s that very thing that makes them so tempting!

So first of all, not all crystals & stones will be categorized as “gentle & protective” when of volcanic origin.

When we think of “volcanic” we thing of “fiery”, “explosive”…so I totally get where this question is coming from, BTW.
GEO GEEK WARNING!
Most crystals have a volcanic origin, either directly or indirectly. If you take a look at the rock cycle,  you’ll see that…b/c everything on the Mama Earth’s crust (that’s not man-made) comes through the mantle, through the upheaval in a volcanic eruption or from plate boundary zones  then goes through different processes that happen in the rock cycle.

They morph as they churn through different parts of the rock cycle.

There’s lots happening & at some point  any mineral or rock that you may be holding has probably been a part of the volcanic part of the rock cycle.

Examples of DIRECTLY Volcanic Crystals
1. Peridot. You can find peridot quickly forming & tumbling down directly from the volcano. I wrote an entire blog post on the massive peridot-fever that I caught. You can check out here.

2. Sulfur is another very direct result of volcanic activity, a powerful stone. If you’re interested in learning more about sulfur, watch this video I created for you on Crystal Healing with Sulfur

3. Obsidian. (any kind of obsidian) all the direct result of volcanic activity. Black Obsidian is considered to be very forceful & powerful. Snowflake obsidian not so much. Mahogany obsidian, again not so much. So they are considered gentler. And then, there are other crystals that are indeed considered gentle & are a direct result from volcanic activity.

Diamond is another direct result of volcanic activity found deep, deep, deep in the earth, hence it’s extreme Mohs Hardness. Diamond is a Mohs Hardness of 10. That’s the highest & the hardest mineral you are going to find.

[caption id="attachment_17916" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]When I went to answer this question, I was thinking…
Do we really want to correlate those 2 things; gentleness & volcanic origin? B/c when you think about it, the entire Earth, not just every rock & mineral, but the entire earth is born of volcanism &/or just as volatile tectonic activity.
In fact, there are very gentle things on the Earth that have come from volcanic/tectonic activity.
For example fields; agriculture, where things grow really, really well growing where the soil is quite fertile, this is a direct result of volcanic ash.  In the foothills  of a volcano you will have the best agricultural growing areas for just about ANYTHING.

The most abundant & vibrant, negative-ion-filled forests grow there as well. There are many waterfalls due to this volatile activity…and then, of course there are the CRYSTALS.

So from a violent event emerges all this wonderful energy, beneficial for us in so many ways. And perhaps, that’s exactly why they are so tempting to us…that direct volcanic energy. Kind of like the “bad boy” thing that some of us are attracted to.*whistling*

So are ya with me now? More tempting than a Cinnabon? Hmmmm?

What do you think? It makes a great discussion so please leave your examples, opinions & thoughts in the comments and we’ll have ourselves a Crystal Hottie convo.

Crystal Blessings!

Omg! The Best Crystal Mining Adventure Ever!

Hibiscus Moon Crystals, geology 20 Comments

So we’re back & I’m now sitting down to try to round up all the content I collected while out on our magical Crystal Dig RV Trip. It truly was a rolling sacred biz trip. Since I already gave you all the highlights in my weekly Glitter Updates, I’ll try to stick to just the actual crystal-digging in Hot Springs, AR here in this post.

NOTE TO SELF: FOCUS! FOCUS!

So this was the adventure of a lifetime. I’m so glad Frankie (my hubby) & I did it!

In this video I:

  • compare & contrast the 2 main mines we went to, how to find them
  • show some of the crystals we hand-mined
  • give you digging tips
  • tell about the supplies you’ll need
  • explain why this was such a profound experience for me

My #BucketList Crystal Mining Experience

Why Hot Springs, AR?
You always hear about Sedona, AZ, right?

Well, let me tell you what’s so special about Hot Springs, AR nestled in the Ouachita Mountains & why I was called there.

Arkansas is known for having the world’s finest quartz crystals, many are water clear & supremely powerful. Not only are there abundant quartz crystal deposits throughout AR, but 1 particular area is known to be the single largest quartz deposit in the world; The Quartz Belt. It’s about 30-40 miles (48-64km) wide & extends a distance of about 170 miles (274 km) west-southwest from Little Rock, AR to eastern Oklahoma; the Ouachita Mountain region.

Planning it out was a big part of the fun! We carefully planned out our hot springs, caverns and crystal dig RV trip meandering our way slowly out of Florida, through Alabama, Tennessee with Arkansas as the final destination. I did it old school style; real map, magnifying glass and some crystal inspiration, of course!

The Hot Springs are all part of the quartz story here (and they really are HOT!)

The springs aren’t unaltered like in Yellowstone. Instead, they’ve been covered & protected (except for a couple of areas at the bottom of the mountain). They do this to keep them uncontaminated for public use. No pee-pee please!

People have been using these hot springs for healing baths since ancient times. There are so many beneficial minerals in these waters, it’s like an Epsom salt bath super-amplified! In fact the hot springs here have 53 ppm (parts per million) of silica! There you go. That’s the reason why quartz (silicon dioxide) is so abundant here.

How could I NOT go?

Why so Hot?
The average temp. of the water is 143º F/62º C. Surface water sinks down through faults & fractures about 1 mile deep into Mama Earth getting heated as it goes by the natural geothermal heating of the earth. There’s some evidence (& rumors) that there may be a super-volcano in this area.

The main street in Hot Springs is lined with a group of bathhouses built between 1892-1923 that tap into the healing waters. They’re gorgeous & taking a dip in 1 of these places is a must. This spot ain’t nicknamed Spa City for nothin’! One thing I didn’t see on the spa menus was a Crystal Healing session. I think they should come up with an Arkansas Quartz Crystal Therapy Immersion! What do you think? I’d be all over that!
Final Destination
My ultimate destination on this trip was to  hit the Jim & Ron Coleman Crystal Mines!

Having now done this I have a list of must-brings to share with you:
Crystal Dig Essentials

  • hat
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen
  • closed toe shoes
  • gloves
  • small digging tools (with comfy handles, your hands will thank me!)
  • bucket or container to hold your treasures
  • something to sit on: a cushion, rolled up yoga mat, folded towel, etc.
  • lots of water
  • healthy snacks
  • patience
  • At first they didn’t look like much. These are just a few of the many “diamonds in the rough” Frank & I mined with our hands!! But just brushing off a bit of the clay & holding them up tot the sun I could see there untapped potential. It was so exciting! 🙂

    I knew we had some gorgeous treasures. I couldn’t wait to get them home & clean them up. They turned out to be water clear + of supreme quality. I loved the experience of working really hard to birth these babies from the ground myself.

    Life is sweet?

    (I also mentioned in the vlog I’d link to my post on the ethics of crystal mining.)

    Here’s a video montage of the actual dig sites:

    In the vlog above I mention this video where I show you how to do an oxalic acid wash:

    Here are some of the beauties we dug, rounded up and cleaned at home…

    Photos never ever do them justice. Do they?

    Well, that’s the culmination of everything & I’m so grateful to have you to share it with! Interested in visiting? You can check out the Quartz Crystals – Arkansas webpage for great info on the area & to plan it all out.

    Have you already been or plan to go? Please tell me in the comments below, Crystal Hottie!

    Crystal Blessings,

    WARNING: If Toxic Crystals Are So Bad, Why Do Some Recommend Them?

    Hibiscus Moon Crystals, geology, science 30 Comments

    If Toxic Crystals Are So Bad, Why Do Some Recommend Them?

    Well, I really cannot say why some recommendations don’t give at least a fair warning, but I suppose that most who are recommending the crystals assume the danger is low. Sometimes it is…and sometimes it isn’t.

    Here’s a really good question I was recently asked by a student:
    If Cinnabar is a toxic crystal why do crystal healing books recommend it?
    For that matter, why would anyone recommend working with ANY toxic crystals at all?

    In this video, I answer that question

    Cinnabar are the red crystals in the photo below. The proper mineral name for Cinnabar happens to be Mercury Sulfide.

    Cinnabar has a Mohs hardness (that’s a term we use to determine how hard it is) of 2 to 2.5. That means it’s relatively soft, meaning it can easily be scratched & can flake off. So, mercury that can easily flake off…hmmm, something to keep in mind.

    Now, you may know that mercury is a toxic element…and it’s been known to make people go crazy. That’s right, NUTBALLZ.

    This is where the term “Madhatter” came from…because hat makers used to use mercury to help with making the hats; for the felting process. After working with it for some time they became loopy. And that’s one of the side effects…besides the fact that it can kill you! High levels of mercury exposure can be harmful to your brain, heart, kidneys, lungs & immune system. Yikes.

    So, yes, after handling Cinnabar I would wash my hands!

    Some say if you work with a tumbled piece it’s less friable (brittle) & therefore less harmful. I still WASH MY HANDS!

    [caption id="attachment_17337" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Cabochon of cinnabar in milky quartz matrix.[/caption]

    I certainly wouldn’t recommend putting any known-toxic mineral in your mouth…because it is toxic.

    Some people get nervous about working with Malachite too because Malachite has copper in it. Copper is another element considered toxic in certain quantities if ingested.

    These are elements you don’t want to swallow. However, we all hold pennies, right? *ahem, I even swallowed a few pennies as a kid*

    So, don’t think you’re doomed b/c you handled something that contains copper. Although an excess of copper in our system can be toxic, a certain trace amount is necessary for normal healthy functioning. It’s all a magical balancing act. Just use your own good judgment.

    GEO-GEEK FACTOID: Well, what about Tiger’s Eye? It’s often used in jewelry yet it contains asbestos. Is that safe? Actually, according to the editor of Rock and Gem magazine, Bob Jones, yes, it is safe to wear. Reason is that the asbestos fibers that were originally in Tiger’s Eye have actually been replaced by silica (quartz)… just the same as what happens with petrified wood! So the invading quartz ends up taking on the form of the fibrous asbestos; is what gives Tiger’s Eye that gorgeous silky luster we call “chatoyancy” (from French for “cat’s eye,”). But the asbestos is no longer actually there. In geology, we call this process pseudo-morphing.

    Now, we all have small incremental amounts of these toxic elements in our bodies. Some chemists have proposed that we have everything within us that is on the periodic table. All of it, just in varying amounts. So, yes, you may have lead, you may have mercury, but not very large amounts like we have of iron. We have huge amounts of iron inside of us.

    You know pennies are made of copper and you know it’s not something you want to stick in your mouth, not something you want to swallow. Some people cook with copper pots & I’m not going to get into a debate about that. Some people drink out of aluminum cans, that’s another metal I wouldn’t want to ingest, so I am not going to get into a debate about that.

    But some minerals are more toxic than others & are more molecularly unstable than others meaning that they can throw off particles of atoms which could easily be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through our pores. So, you definitely want to take that into account. BTW, the most unstable elements are radioactive. Eeeek!
    A good Toxic Stones List is your friend!
    I just generally refer to my toxic stones list to stay safe when working with crystals & stones. Although some stones may be more toxic than others, I say:

    If there is any toxic element in that stone at all, then I recommend washing your hands after handling it & some you don’t want to handle at all! Use your discretion. If there are some elements that are highly toxic & unstable in the mineral & can break down easily it can end up in your system. So you’ll want to make sure to steer clear of it or use proper precautions when working with that crystal in any way.

    Now, if you’re working with a mineral that contains an element that is known as toxic, but is not highly unstable & therefore, doesn’t have particles becoming available to be absorbed through the skin (like copper) then washing your hands thoroughly after handling the minerals should be enough.

    I would def. not make gem elixirs or drink anything that has any of those toxic minerals in them. Again, please check out my toxic minerals list here. 

    If you’re doing lapidary work or making jewelry with these minerals, you do want to take all the proper precautions to make sure you’re not inhaling any of those elements into your lungs.

    ALWAYS: Be informed, do your own research & use discretion.
    Have I totally Scared You now? What Crystals are Safe to work with?
    That’s a BIG question to answer b/c there are over 4,500 minerals in the world + many element combos so if you’re just not sure then stick with quartz & calcite crystals. They’re relatively 100% safe.

    Here’s a list of various forms of quartz:

    • clear quartz
    • amethyst
    • rose quartz
    • citrine
    • aventurine
    • agates
    • jaspers

    Do you work with Toxic Crystals?  What’s your protocol to protect yourself?  I’d love to hear how you are keeping it safe.  Please SHARE & tell us in the comments below & let’s talk safety. 🙂

    Crystal Blessings!