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

Hibiscus Moon Crystals, geology, science 32 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 on dolomite & quartzCinnabar 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 Mad_Hatter_and_the_Rabbitterm “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!

Cabochon of cinnabar in milky quartz matrix.

Cabochon of cinnabar in milky quartz matrix.

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

properity empower

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!

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Comments 32

  1. WHAT~? Toxic crystals? I certainly hope they’re OK for use in jewelry..turquoise / aquamarine / tourmaline / sodalite / celestite / prehenite / moonstone / iolite / labradorite /moldavite / lapis / sugilite / garnet / ~ and a huge covellite pendant ~~~ you’ve listed my ENTIRE jewelry accumulation~!!!!

    1. Joan, I have a turquoise piece that lives in my pocket and I’ve got prehnite and aquamarine in my bra as I type. I have a Labradorite pendant and aquamarine and moldavite rings and am hopefully soon to buy a beautiful copper bangle. I also have most of the others you’ve listed. We can be doomed together 😉

      I do have a piece of sulphur and wash my hands after handling that, as my friend/mentor person advises. I think that’s the only piece I am cautious with x

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      1. You are confusing the copper in pennies with the bioavialblity of copper on consumption, ingestion or inhalation. The absorption rates of copper through the skin are so low that handling pennies is not an issue. The danger from malachite and similar minerals is that the dust produced by handling, cutting, shaping, polishing etc liberates malachite into the airways. Malachite readily dissociates into copper ions in the body, and these can cause you severe issues. Put a bit of malachite through a band saw, and breathe deep – likely enough to do you serious damage. Also cinnabar, skin contact will not cause you issues from mercury toxicity. But, a hot day, or even the heat from handling cinnabar is enough to release mercury, and its associated vapour phases. These are lethal. So yeah, cinnabar is a danger to handle, as are most other arsenic bearing minerals: realgar, orpiment, adamite…. careful now.

        1. Regarding your reply about malachite – can I assume that it’s safe to wear as a necklace next to your skin since you’re not breathing it?

          Also, tourmaline contains aluminum. Does that mean it’s not safe to wear a raw tourmaline pendant next to your skin?

          And one more, how about Rhodochrosite next to your skin?

          I realize a lot of these crystals are toxic as exlixers, but I’m wondering about wearing them next to your skin as pendants or bracelets.


  2. Thanks Hibiscus. I use some toxic crystals, like malachite, but I feel crystals are like any other healing tool. For example, some plants and herbs are toxic, but still powerful healers, e.g. aconite. They need to be used with knowledge and safety precautions, as you point out. And there are safe ways to make elixirs if needed too. Indirect method is what to look for. Crystal blessings xx

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  3. I have a piece of jewelry made from Actinolite that I fell in love with and purchased, but later found out it is known to contain asbestos. It is a polished stone – is it safe to wear??

  4. For me it depends on the stone. I have no issue using most toxic stones. I wash my hands after I use stibnite and galena. I also have realgar which is much more dangerous. I have not worked with this stone yet but it stays in a plastic bag so I do not touch it directly because of the arsenic content.

  5. I wear labradorite pendant and a cluster of atones in a spiral swirl of silver wire as a pendant.
    It has rose quartz, hematite, rutilated quartz, malacite, and black tourmaline in it. I will keep the malacite to the top side now and I will quit putting it to my mouth! Hahaha.
    I wear them every day!
    Thank you so much for all your teachings Hibiscus Moon ❤

  6. Hi! I spend almost every day in old abandoned mines searching for minerals and crystals. I find uraninite, arsenopyrite, and many of the minerals on the toxic list. I steer clear of those for the most part, but many of the ones on that list I handle daily. While they do contain elements that can be harmful, so do many other things we handle on a daily basis. The wiring in my house contains more copper than my mineral collection for sure. Point being, I wouldn’t over think it. Just don’t eat your minerals.

  7. Woah! I never knew celestite was Toxic! I can sit for hours holding, rubbing/stroking/feeling this stone and it’s individual crystals and not always wash my hands. I wonder how toxic Celestite 🤔

  8. I have a beautiful specimen of orpiment that I handle VERY carefully! I keep it on an upper shelf in a pretty cigar box and inside it is resting on a slab of selenite. When I hold it I wear latex gloves and still wash my hands after. When I use it on my solar plexus it makes a powerful punch of male energy!

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

    Because the metaphysical crowd doesn’t seem to understand sciences properly.

  10. Hm… while I suppose posts like these are necessary – everything with a grain of salt. Working with minerals\crystals is no different than working with plants. Common sense and research are key. Bottom line, don’t eat your crystals\stones and don’t plop stones in a water bottle to drink (use indirect method)!

  11. So does this mean the Tigers eye I bought is fine to wear? Its polished and has a few tiny scrapes on it. But is it fine? A load of people were shouting asbestos and I got worried.

  12. I am a life long gemstone cutter and have a MS in Environmental Geology. I would not in the least worry about cinnabar as long as you do not heat it. It is almost totally insoluble and even when eaten has virtually no biological availability. Malachite, turquoises and other basic copper sulfates are quite bioavailable and are readily absorbed. I make it a point to not cut more than a couple of those in any given day as the ground powder will absorb through the skin and cause illness. Copper toxicity is not really a long term problem as your body is quite adept at ridding itself of copper.

    Tigers eye and most other asbestos bearing minerals are completely safe so long as you are not grinding them and breathing the dust. Wearing them or even eating them (as if you would want to) is perfectly safe. The strontium in celestite/celestine is not really bioavailable under any normal circumstances (i.e. if you are in an area hot or caustic enough to break down the strontium sulfate bond, the least of your worries is going to be heavy metal poisoning.)

    The only minerals I would be cautious in handling would be some of the arsenides like mohawkite or orpiment, the Various radioactive minerals or heavy metal ores like lorándite.

    1. When I started seeing articles like this, I stopped touching most of my crystals more than once or twice a day unless I was sure they were safe, but I find what you’re saying to be reassuring and you seem knowledgeable on the subject. Do you think I’m all right to have polished crystals and stones on my skin for longer periods of time if I’m not grinding them up, eating them, or soaking them in water? I don’t have any of the unusual ones, but I do have things like moonstone, fluorite, lapis, sodalite, amazonite, etc. and now I’m scared to touch them ): All the ones I carry with me are polished, if that makes a difference.

      1. I would suggest you do some homework. Look up the chemistry of minerals, and seek out literature that examines the bioavailability and toxicity (LD50s/MD50s) of the elements present. find out if they are absorbable in bonded form or what it takes to liberate the dangerous elements. For the most part heavy metals bonded to sulphur groups are likely carcinogens, anything with Cadmium or Thalium are hellish, arsenic should always be respected as some arsenic species are bioavaialble through the skin, anything that has uranium is going to potentially be giving off radon gas = instant cancer. And fibrous minerals or particulate zeolites/silicates are probably best not breathed in.

      2. The stones you name are not dangerous to handle. Polishing makes no difference as there is generally no coating over the stone. As Dr. Madden noted it is good to stay away from the arsenides and radioactive materials and don’t breath ANY rock dusts, toxic or not it does lung damage.

  13. OK I have to talk about my bad experience. I make jewelry for others and a deal with a lot of crystals. In the pass I made jewelry for myself but never really wear my pieces. Recently I decide to stack my bracelet on my arm..all crystals. I would make crystal bracelet and stack on never taking my jewelry off. I had a total 8 bracelet on my arm by the 3week after fixing old bracelet and making new ones. I notice last week end that my arm kept feeling numb with a slight pain.it was around my wrist where the bracelet lay. So then after a couple more days I said OK maybe bracelets are to tight let me add a extended chain to all of them for more room. Then the pain became so bad around wrist I just took jewelry off. As soon when I did that the pain went up my arm..my whole body was fatigue. My body hurt all over. I also felt like my glands was swelled. I thought I had the flu. I said this feel like I am allergic to something. At first I look up the gold allergies. Because I was using goldfilled with crystals. When research.. it was a forum about crystal health..I still don’t understand how I got there in my research but I did. In the pass I have been very sensitive to chemicals. So I started researching about crystals. I still trying to figure out if this the problem.

  14. Greetings! 🙂

    I have started to wonder about pleasure toys made of stones… Rose quartz and green aventurine seem to be very commonly used, but I recently found out that rose quartz has iron and titanium in it, and green and blue stones are said to have copper in them…

    As I’ve been considering getting one of the two for such purposes, now I’m rather mildly disheartened…

    What do you think about that, would they still be considered safe for internal use like that?

    1. Hey Dreamwolf, you do not need to be concerned about the trace amounts of titanium, iron, copper, etc. present in minerals such as rose quartz, aventurine, etc. (my understanding is that chrome mica is generally the colouring agent in aventurine). In these stones, the metallic elements are locked up within quartz, which is an extremely stable mineral in atmospheric conditions and would effectively screen you from any contact. On top of that, the minerals inside the quartz containing the metallic elements (rutile, fuchsite, etc.) are extremely stable as well and would not be bioavailable; even were you to eat the pure minerals, you would not be poisoned. Almost any stone which is a form of quartz (you can check with a quick google/wikipedia search) should be completely safe.

  15. So is it safe to wear chakra bead bracelets that have a natural drill stone on it? Say someone had a Azurite 12mm bead bracelet made but they had a natural drilled Azurite stone added to the bracelet. Would wearing that bracelet cause any harm having the stone against your skin everyday?

  16. Can Cinnabar be taken as a gem elixir if you use the test tube method? I mean, can mercury poison you through glass?

    1. There is absolutely no chance of mercury from a cinnabar crystal passing through the glass of a test tube, so the test tube gem elixir would be safe.

  17. Hello everyone,

    I’m a tad bit late but I been researching on pyrite, just made a necklace with beads of it and I plan to wear it. I’ve been wearing some of my crystal pendants when working out but with pyrite the research has been both polar opposites between it’s okay to you will die if you touch it. Now the pyrite beads I have do give off a smell, metallic and copper like. Should I just stay from it or is it okay for me to wear my pendant even when I work out? (So far i know if it’s oxidized and heated is dangerous but I’m still unclear) also if it’s dangerous can someone recommend me a safe solar plexus crystal other than citrine, thank you!

  18. Such an interesting Topic!
    I want to make crystal Infused oils (for external use only!) with turquoise and Amazonite for example. Does anyone know how crystals react with oils and if it would be safe to use it?

  19. I recently washed a piece of Malachite half polished and other raw. Then I smelled it it smelled earthy and I breathed it in deep. It was wet then I read after that, not to do what I did … Now what’s going to happen? What signs do I need to look out for?

  20. I really want to get my birthstone which is aquamarine and do a bath with this stone since it’s pretty much a stone for mermaids. I’ve always loved aquamarine, but after reading that list and seeing beryl stones containing aluminum, I’m hesitant. I don’t even use tin foil. And I don’t drink from cans (although they have plastic linings, by the way, not aluminum insides.) I’m just wondering if the aluminum amount in aquamarine would seep out into the bath water, even though it’s a hard stone, and go into my pores. Would it depend on temperature or bioavailability? Do any of the experts here know? I also really wanted to use raw stones rather than polished; I like the look. I also read they can help with skin conditions psoriasis and eczema so how else could I use them for this?

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