So what geology tools do you
need for your home kit?
Here are the most
important tools for cleaning the rocks first, and then identifying them
as well as the minerals.
First the rock
cleaning tools - brushes, cotton buds, water and other liquids. Then
the scraping tools - tweezers, needles, chisels and etchers.
And finally the rock
and mineral identification tools - streak plates, a magnet, a jolly
balance, a hardness kit and a microscope.
Brushes, Dust Blower and Cotton Buds
you first get home with your rocks you need to clean them. Use brushes
with different sofness - the softest brushes on soft minerals like
calcite, and the hardest ones may be used on hard rocks such as gneiss
and granite. Dust blower
can be used to blow off dust, and cotton
are handy if you need to reach into cavities.
most minerals, use water.
is recommended because tap water
can sometimes contain chemicals that may react with some minerals. Some
minerals, such as halite, dissolve in water - use other liquids for
can be used, as well as different
acids. One of the most widely used acids is weak hydrochloric
cannot use HCl on carbonates because it dissolves them - this is one of
best ways to identify carbonates ;-) But if there is a calcite stain on
the surface of your specimen that you want to get rid of, you can use
HCl, and you can also use vinegar.
And iron stains can be removed using
scraping tools such as etchers,
if you need
rid of dirt particles in cavities. The scraper
is also one of the
geology tools that is handy to measure hardness with, once you get
the feeling for it. Once you have properly cleaned your
specimen, it is ready for identification.
to check the colour of mineral powder, aka streak. Streak
plate is basically any
non-polished porcelain surface. You can use the
back side of bathroom tiles, ceramic fuse or the unpolished ring under
many plates and cups as perfect geology tools.
can buy a handy and cheap magnet from the same
website. You do want to test
if you piece
of rock contains any magnetic minerals. And this
detects even the weakest magnetism as it is pulled towards the rock
hold it next to it. There are also the swing magnet scribers with a scratcher and a magnet.
balance is an instrument that measures your rock's or mineral's
I got mine (this is actually called
but it does the same job) from the university when I
did my geology degree. I have been looking but haven't found a
website that sells them. Once you have some experience, you can get an
idea of density by simply weighing the minerals in your hands.
hardness kit is one of the necessary geology tools. It
is either a bag of Mohs'
that you can
or it can also be a set
of points, which does the same job. Or,
you can also make it simple and use a calcite
(hardness 3), a piece of copper
(hardness 3.5), a steel
(hardness 5.5), and a quartz
crystal (hardness 7). If you scratch any of them on your
mineral and it leaves a mark, you know your mineral is
Lens and Microscope
finally, hand lens
- some of the most important geology tools.
Both very handy and very much fun,
as you can see the minerals in the rock that you cannot see with your
bare eyes. Hand lenses are cheap and definitely worth getting, and
microscope is worth it too if you think you do get into rocks and want
to learn about them. Simple
microscopes (and it's all you need) start
at $300ish - an affordable price. These are very cheap compared to the
proper pertographic microscopes which geologists use to study thin
sections - those cost tens of thousands of dollars and more. So your
choice is very affordable even if you go a bit up in price :-)