DIGGING QUARTZ CRYSTAL IN ARKANSAS 6 of 6: Bringing It Home

digging_crystal_in_AR-6-6bringing-it-homeThis is the final post of the series on digging crystal in Arkansas. Last time we discussed how to find crystal (what to look for). This time we’ll cover what to do with your crystal once you get it home, namely, cleaning.

When you’re finished digging and ready to go home, the best way to pack your crystal for transport is with newspaper. If you have used the zip top baggie suggestion I mentioned in post number four, they can be placed side by side in the floor behind the seats. Clusters can be placed in a flat box with newspaper around and bunched in between them to prevent them from bumping each other. The same goes for any large points you might have found.

If you were lucky and found a cluster with lots of clay on it in the fresh tailings, it is best to leave the clay on for protection until you can get it home (we discussed this briefly in the previous post as well). Resist the temptation to “unwrap” it from the clay, and it will be safer for the jiggly (and sometimes jarring) ride home.

crystal_cleaningAfter you wash off the dirt and clay, some crystal appears clean or almost clean straight out of the mine (like it looks when you see it in shops). Most, however, is stained or coated with rust which requires an acid bath to remove. This layer of rust will vary crystal to crystal and mine to mine. Some of the mines produce crystals with very thick layers of rust, some with less. There are a few ways you may wish to clean your crystal.

The first is the traditional way, and that is by using oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is a dry white powder and they sell it packaged by the pound at almost all of the rock shops which also have mines open to the public. If you choose this method, plan to buy some acid at the rock shop to take home with which to clean your crystals. Generally it is one pound of acid to two to five gallons of water. While one pound is generally more than enough, you can ask the person running the rock shop what they recommend for the amount of crystal you found; they are very helpful. There is a process to using the acid, so be sure to ask for the instructions as well, usually they have a printout with the acid. This can be quite a process. Stu Smith from Clear Creek Crystal Mine has a really excellent write up of the ins and outs of using this acid. I’d rather not re-invent the wheel, so you can find that info here. It is advisable to wear thick gloves, however I have yet to do this and keep my hands dry and out of the acid. I don’t know what my problem is! Goggles are also highly recommended. I have splashed the oxalic acid in my eye a time or two, and since I usually use a pretty dilute solution I didn’t suffer irreparable damage. Don’t take the chance, though. Put on your goggles.

photo credit Super Iron out dot comAnother method which I have recently discovered which also works really well (and has become my method of choice) is something called Super Iron Out. This picture is from the website www.superironout.com. I bought mine at our local Walmart but you can find it in many places both on and off line. It comes in liquid form as well as powder. I have only used the powder, because it was what the store had on hand.

I have found that this does work more quickly than the oxalic acid (as quickly as overnight on lightly stained crystals), but it only works on the iron, it doesn’t do anything unless you remove all the dirt. In contrast, a little dirt won’t stop the oxalic acid from cleaning your crystal (especially if you heat it) Read Stu’s article about heating the acid. I had several used crock pots which I used to use for this. Anyway, if you do choose the Super Iron Out method, be sure to wash your crystals very well first.

The third option is to leave them in their natural state by washing them but leaving the rust. I really like the pretty rust-free look personally, so I most always soak mine to remove the rust. The only time I don’t do this is when the crystals are exactly as they came out of the mine (dirt and all). Sometimes I will send people uncleaned crystal if they express interest in this.

cleaning crystalMoving on (but also backing up). When you get your crystal home, you will need to wash it off well with water. You might choose to leave it in the sun and weather to let the process of nature clean it (rain and sun). This is what I described when I mentioned leaving the clay in clusters for protection on the ride home. If left in the sun, a certain amount of the clay will shrink and fall off. (Obviously don’t leave amethyst or other colored stones in the sun, they will fade. We’re talking about clear (aka colorless) quartz crystal here.

The more clay and dirt you remove before putting it in the acid, the better. There are two reasons for this. Firstly if you don’t, the crystal might require two trips through the acid and secondly, the less dirt you get in your acid, the better. It can be re-used until it gets saturated. When it turns a dirty green color, it is time to throw it out. When finished, neutralize the acid with lime (the kind you buy for the garden) or baking soda and use plenty of water. When the mixture stops fizzing when you add the lime or soda, that means it is neutralized. If your crystal isn’t heavily stained with iron, it should take only a few days in the acid bath to get it clean.

With either of these soaking-in-the-acid (or Iron Out) methods, be sure to rinse the crystal extremely well with water after you take it out. A good barometer is after several rinses, if you think it is well-rinsed, then rinse it once more. I have been lazy a time or two and didn’t get all the acid off. When your crystal dries, it is covered with a layer of acid which is not fun to touch or breathe. With all of these instructions, your common sense is your most valuable tool.

That concludes our discussion on what to do with your crystal once you get it home, and also winds up the 6 part series on digging crystal. I would say the single most important things to plan to bring with you to the mine are your gratefulness, respect and reverence, as well as your gratitude and respect for the crystal and your reverence to Mother Earth for enduring this birth process on our behalf. Most especially remember to bring your laughter and good vibes; this is a joyous endeavor! Until next time, if you are blessed with the opportunity to dig your own crystal, Happy Digging!

DIGGING QUARTZ CRYSTAL IN ARKANSAS 5 of 6: How To Find It

crystal digging in ArkansasThis is a continuation of a series on digging crystal in Arkansas. Last time we discussed what to wear, what tools are essential, and the other intimate details of what to pack in your vehicle. This time let’s get down to the actual nitty gritty of digging the crystal and let’s talk about what to look for in the tailings themselves.

In the new tailings, you will be looking for sticky masses of clay. At the majority of the mines I have been to, the clay is red. Some mines have different colors of dirt and clay, depending on the composition of the Earth. We’ll just discuss the red clay, since it is in the majority, but keep in mind it may differ according to where you are.

At any rate, the fresh tailings will look like wet, mushy mud and rocks. Most of the mud will be a dark brown color; some of it (if you’re lucky) will be red clay. Remember when we talked about the folding and faulting that created the mountains and the subsequent crevasses in which the crystal grew? Silt or mud filled in the gaps and acted as a sort of cushion for the clusters and points. This is the stuff you’ll be looking for in the new tailings. The clay is red, sticky and gooey; it is clingy and hard to move. What you’ll be looking for inside the clay is anything black and shiny. The really clear points will appear black because you are seeing “through” them and into the dark of the inside of the “hole” it has made in the clay. White looking areas in the mud are usually quartz matrix (the filler material with no points). Often there are points on the quartz matrix, so it is always a good idea to check. Sometimes the white areas are partial or whole Feminine points. Many a leaverite has been brought home, not knowing until they were washed off if they were crystals or just chunks of matrix. What’s a leaverite? That’s a rock that when you see it you “leave ‘er right” there. It’s an old tongue-in-cheek rock hounding term, and it’s one of the first rock hounding words I learned because my grandparents considered most of the rocks I picked up to be leaverites.

Back to what to look for when you’re digging; as I said, walking the old tailings is what I usually end up doing. Every time I dig, initially, I am always lured in by the promise of finding that really big, giant point or cluster in the fresh tailings. While this has yet to happen for me, I have seen it happen for many! However, after a usually unfruitful slog through the fresh tailings, the raw energy will become too much for me and I will end up strolling through the old tailings.

crystal digging in Arkansas The same “shiny black” instruction is true for the old tailings as for the new. These need to be pried CAREFULLY out of the dirt with your trusty hemostats or garden trowel, being sure to scrape and loosen just the dirt around the crystal, but not the crystal itself.

The way I usually find crystal in the old tailings, however, is fairly easy to explain, but much harder to put into practice. Have you ever seen those Magic Eye 3-D posters that were popular in the 1990’s? After getting your eyes focused, a picture suddenly emerges from what previously looked like just a bunch of splotchy colors. crystal at the mineFinding crystal can be like this. The splotchy colors are represented by dirt and rocks, the hologram is the crystal. You have to get your eyes set and scan the ground. If the sun is shining, that’s all the better, because a flash of light here or there will alert you to where to center your gaze. If your focus is correct, a crystal may emerge. Your mind might register just the dirt, but with practice, right where you were looking, there is a crystal. I find that if my head’s not in the right space, I don’t find very many crystals. I make it a point to remain in a space of thankfulness and gratitude. I usually like to walk off by myself even when digging with friends because I like to talk to the crystal as I’m looking and digging.

Another handy tool which I really like to bring is a long handled rake or hoe. The type I’m talking about isn’t a leaf rake, but a 3 or 4 pronged rake (like the small hand trowels but with a long handle like a hoe). It makes a handy walking stick and also makes turning over dirt much easier.

I sometimes compare digging crystals to finding Easter eggs. It is exciting and sometimes they are “hidden” in plain sight. Be sure to look in places you might not think would have a crystal such as dirt ruts in the roads. I once found a beautiful crystal in a little mound of mud on the side of one of the roads at the crystal mine. It was raining very hard, and you know how a tire will push an indent into the road, and some of the mud squishes up into a long mound alongside the rut? I was tired, soaking wet and saw a little gleam in this rut-hill. I almost didn’t stop to check, but luckily I did. I saw about an inch of a gleam and pulled out a long, thin Double Terminated Soulmate point so you never know if that tiny glimmer will be just the tip of the crystal iceberg.

It is advisable that if you find a cluster, (or even a large point) especially in the new tailings, leave the clay and dirt in place as much as possible. I know it is very tempting to clean off the clay and dirt so you can look at your new find. Try and resist as much as possible. This clay will provide protection for any long, slender points during packing and on the ride home. You can leave a cluster like this out in the weather once you get it home and the clay will dry and shrink, and as it shrinks, will often shrink away from the point. There will be more on this in the next post, on cleaning crystals.

We’ve touched on this before, but is bears repeating. As you dig, be respectful. You aren’t going to be able to bring home every single crystal that you come across. Some crystals I know instinctively aren’t for me. I have seen people mindlessly toss such crystals aside in the search for something better. Don’t be one of these people! Instead, consider doing what I do or something similar which resonates for you. When I find a crystal that isn’t for me, I thank it, tell it how beautiful it is and set it prominently on a nearby rock so it will be easily found by the person it is meant for. This doesn’t have to be a long drawn-out process and it doesn’t have to occur verbally. It works just as well to think these things; the crystal will receive the message. Also, if the crystal is for me (or for one of you, through me) and it goes into my bucket, I don’t just plop it in; I carefully place it in and thank it as I do so. I don’t do this as much because I am afraid I will damage it by dropping it in, but more because to carelessly drop it in the bucket is disrespectful. We talked about how I kiss the crystal before putting it in my bucket. I will continue to do that, even if it does make me look a little demented. I have a vision of myself through other people’s eyes: this crazy girl walking around alone, mumbling away with dirt all around her mouth. Maybe this is why I like to walk away and dig by myself; it saves my friends the embarrassment of having to admit they know me!

As a final reminder, PLEASE obey all signs at the mine and do not cross ropes, taped off areas or areas which are marked off limits. The cautions are there for your safely. Usually when you check in, the person who gives you your waiver form to sign will also tell you where it is OK to dig and where it is not. If they don’t tell you, please ask.

Ok! That does it for how to find crystal when digging. Next post we’ll talk about what to do once you get your new finds home.

 

DIGGING QUARTZ CRYSTAL IN ARKANSAS 4 of 6: What To Bring

what to bring when you dig crystal in ArkansasLast time we talked about when the best time is for digging crystal in Arkansas, and covered a little bit about new tailings versus old tailings, dry weather versus wet. Whichever area and whatever weather, crystal digging is a dirty process. Even when it’s not wet, the red clay permanently discolors your clothes. In this post we’ll talk about what to bring, what type of clothes to wear and what tools are handy to have.

Wear something old that you don’t mind getting stained. It is ideal if you have a pair of coveralls or overalls. When you are ready to pack it in and go home, you can strip off your dirty outer layer and ride home in relatively clean, dry clothes. Of course, there are bathrooms at some (not all) of the mines, so you can change before you go home. I find that I am usually too tired to change my clothes, and my truck is testament to this fact. You might want to put old towels or sheets over your seats if you are persnickety and don’t want your vehicle to get all dirty, dusty and stained.

dig-bootsSturdy shoes are a must, as well. You will be climbing up and down large piles of dirt and rock. I’ve seen people come to dig wearing sandals or open toed shoes, and I don’t recommend it. It isn’t necessary to wear boots, any sturdy closed toe shoe is fine, but if you do have comfortable boots, all the better. You’ll be the one not hobbling around because your shoes are full of rocks and dirt.

dig-noHammers, picks and wedges are recommended by some of the more enthusiastic types, I don’t recommend them at all, and it isn’t only because it is hard work, and they are heavy, that I don’t like using them. The premise is to use them on the really large boulders that make their way out of the pit with partial veins still attached. Removing the crystal from the boulder is tempting, but it is usually best to leave it right there. Here is why: smashing a crystal off the matrix is disappointing and brutal. Sadly, I have seen, and heard, this done over the years. The sound is hideous (this is the brutal part); not only that, but crystal which has been unskillfully smashed off its matrix never has the luster that it did when it was still attached (this is the disappointing part). If you are skillful and know what you are doing, you may be able to break the cluster off the sandstone without injuring it, but that isn’t usually what happens. Normally, you end up with part of the cluster on the ground and part still on the rock, and you’ve irreparably damaged both. One of the worst sounds I have encountered at the crystal mine is the relentless hammering followed by the sound of smashing, cracking crystal as it is being destroyed. The feeling in your gut which accompanies that horrible sound is infinitely worse. Believe me, as tempting as it may be, it is best to leave it right there. The Crystal People, and your fellow crystal diggers, will thank you.

dig your own crystalThere is good news regarding large rocks with crystal attached. If you have the strength of Hercules and can get the rock from the tailings and into your car or truck, you’re welcome to do so. It is amazing that for the price of your permit, and providing you can get it into your vehicle, you really can take out anything you find in the tailings. The heavier “mining tools” were recommended in the past because they used to let you go into the pit if they weren’t working it on the day you went to dig. Due to numerous safety hazards and OSHA regulations, they aren’t allowing this practice anymore. So, my suggestion is to leave your hammer and bring a group of your strongest friends instead. Barring that, some other alternatives are to take a picture of the large boulders with crystal attached (like the one at left), or another thing I like to do is sit on or near the boulder and enjoy the energy that the crystal plate lends. Sometimes these crystal-covered rocks will have small crystals which have detached (either naturally or by wandering diggers), and these smaller points can be picked up easily with your tweezers or hemostats. (More on this coming up).

dig-hemostatsLighter weight hand tools can be, well, handy! Garden trowels, a small hand shovel, even hemostats and tweezers as I mentioned above. You may be thinking, “Really, Genn! Tweezers?” Well, if you have hemostats, you won’t need tweezers. I never go the mine without my hemostats. If you don’t know what they are, they’re the scissor looking things with the alligator nose and locking grip. I like to clamp them to the front of my shirt so they are always at the ready. They are helpful in picking up really tiny crystals. They also can extend your reach up to a foot, which is nice when you’re climbing the face of a steep hill. They are also good to use as diggers to loosen the dirt around crystals stuck in dry clay or packed dirt.

dig-trowelA three or four-pronged garden trowel or small shovel can be very handy in both the old and new tailings. I also like to use a long garden trowel (they have a long handle like a hoe but with prongs rather than a flat hoe scraping edge). These are super for using as a walking stick of sorts, and also allow you to dig at the dirt without bending and stooping. It’s a multi-use tool.

dig-bucketsBuckets of all sizes are invaluable. I tend to nest my buckets, large to small. I bring extras so that when I fill one bucket up I can leave it in the truck and start out fresh with an empty one. A five gallon bucket is tempting, but gets heavy quickly. If you have a little red wagon, bring it; they are to die for. If you don’t have a wagon to pull around a heavy bucket, then I suggest you use a smaller bucket and empty it frequently. I like to use the small mop buckets with the plastic tube on the handle. Inside this I will put a plastic coffee container and inside that a smaller container. The plastic containers that Crystal Light come in are great; they have a lid and are the perfect size. I know this sounds pretty fussy, and maybe it is, but it has worked for me over the years. Usually inside at least one of these I will have a zip top plastic bag. Put your plastic bag in the container like you would put a plastic bag in a garbage can. When your container is full, you simply slide the bag out, zip it up and put it in your vehicle. This prevents you from having to pour your crystals out, possibly dinging or breaking them. dig-bottlesThis leads me to the smallest containers I recommend. Pill or vitamin bottles are for especially small and/or fragile crystals. Lots of small bottles and containers and plastic baggies are a must. One set of stacking containers per digger is sufficient if you have plenty of plastic bags.

Speaking of using plastic bags in your containers like you would use garbage liners; it is best to plan to carry out everything you carry in. They usually have barrels on site for garbage. However, if you come prepared to take your garbage with you, there is no possibility of the wind blowing your trash out of the barrel and into the crystal mine. I’m sure if you are reading this blog, you and I view nature in the same manner. It is beyond disrespectful to see gum wrappers, cigarette butts, empty pop cans and bits of trash blowing about a crystal mine. If you are walking along and see someone else’s trash, please do the crystals and Mother Earth a favor and pick it up.

dig-waterFood and water are the other things you’ll want to pack plenty of for your day at the mine. A picnic on the tailgate is a lot of fun. Plenty of drinking water is also essential, especially in the summer. Some of the mines have a store with vending machines on site, but not all do; be sure to ask. I always bring more food than I need because usually there are hungry people who didn’t think to bring food. Digging can be hungry work. Sharing with your fellow crystal enthusiast is good karma.

dig-tpAfter discussing eating, I guess it is a natural lead-in to what happens after eating. Not every mine has bathrooms on site. Some have portable toilets, the larger ones have “flushers,” but it’s best not to assume this. Check with the mine before you arrive. You might need to add toilet paper to your list of things to bring. If you’re lucky and the mines do have a bathroom with flushing toilets and running water, no matter how tempting, please do them a favor and don’t rinse off your crystals in the sink. The clay clogs the plumbing and can be a nightmare. Normally, there will be a special area with a pump or tubs full of water where you can do this.

dig-bandaidBand-Aids, sun screen and other first aid items are always good to bring. If you choose to dig in the new tailings, it is quite possible to cut yourself on the broken crystal hidden in the clay. Broken crystal is every bit as sharp as broken glass. I have been cut more times than I can count. If you aren’t careful, it can cut you to the bone. Gloves are handy, but it can cut through them as well. Using a trowel instead of fingers is recommended. For this reason, Band-Aids come in handy; even when you’re careful, you usually end up needing them. I will have to say that if you do cut yourself, the red clay in which the crystals grow works really well to stop the bleeding, and it promotes fast healing. Believe it or not, it is very beneficial. As a former nurse, I can’t believe I’m suggesting that people put mud into their fresh wound. That having been said, I have done it and it works. Obviously, if this doesn’t feel right for you, don’t do it.

This ends the list of things to bring with you when digging crystal. I have a special page on my website (ArkansasCrystalWorks.com) with a printable list, you can find that by clicking this link. Next time we’ll talk about how to find the crystal when you get to the mine. What does it look like and how do you see it? See you next time!

DIGGING QUARTZ CRYSTAL IN ARKANSAS 3 of 6: When To Go

when to dig crystal in ArkansasLast time we discussed a general overview of digging quartz crystal in Arkansas. This week we’ll cover when is the best time to dig.

Cool weather is the ideal time to go digging. In Arkansas, the most reliably cool weather occurs in the Spring or Fall. Of course, there are days during the winter that are mild and enjoyable and sometimes you might luck into a cool day in the summer.

Remember, in the actual mine area, you are up on a mountaintop with no trees around. You will be digging in full sun. Heat stroke is no joke. And on the other end of the spectrum, in the winter, the wind can be brutally cold. Add wet to that equation, and it can be truly miserable. That’s why it is wise to check the weather when planning a dig.

After you have chosen which mine to visit, you will arrive at the entrance. Usually there is a store, or another place, to check in. You will sign a liability release and pay your dig fee. The dig fees typically vary from $10 to $20 per person, per day for adults. When you check in, the clerk will tell you where to park and where the entrance to the tailings is located. Usually, they will tell you where the freshest tailings are; if they don’t tell you, be sure to ask them.

Most Arkansas crystal mines are open every day except Christmas. Typically, they let you dig from nearly dawn until dusk, and then they run you off with a stick (well, not really a stick, but they will run you off … nicely). Some mines have fees based on an hourly rate, and they take you to the mine in their own truck. This is usually the exception to the rule, however.

digging crystal in ArkansasIf you have plans to dig and it happens to rain, don’t worry. Other than it being incredibly messy and sloggy, some of the best crystal can be found during, or just after, a rain. I once found a Double Terminated Twin crystal, about seven inches long and an inch thick on the side of the road, in a truck rut, in the pouring down rain. You are able to find more in the old tailings because the water washes the dirt off crystals that have been hiding from other diggers. To go the day after a really huge rain can provide you with some really great digging experiences. And you also don’t have to contend with the rain running down your neck and blurring your glasses. A serious reminder about this “better when it rains” scenario is not to forget about the sticky mess and the difficulty slogging through wet Arkansas red clay; it can be slippery and dangerous, and will also ruin your shoes and clothes.

On the flip side, if there hasn’t been much rain leading up to the day of your chosen dig, the digging can be difficult at best. The dirt and clay harden and encapsulate the crystals, it can be hard to dig them out of the hardened soil.

In crystal digging, understanding the difference between fresh or “new” tailings versus old tailings is important. Keeping in mind the terminology I am discussing is new to you; I’ll go over the terms again. The giant hole where they do the actual mining is called the pit. The piles of dirt, rock and crystal that they haul to the top are called the tailings. The new tailings are the loads of dirt and rock that they have trucked up most recently. They are usually individual piles of wet and muddy dirt, rock, crystal and clay. The old tailings consist of the piles of dirt that have been there longer. They are made up of layer upon layer of what used to be the fresh tailings. Periodically, a bulldozer will be used to move the dirt to make room for more material brought up from the pit. The dirt, rocks, and crystal get pushed up and up, so the old tailings can be quite high.

Arkansas crystal miningThe majority of the large mines operate nearly every day. If you are digging on a day in which they are actively working in the pit, the fresh tailings will be big piles of wet dirt, mud and clay. When you get your permit to dig, remember to ask them where they are dumping the new tailings. If you’re the sort who likes to dig through mucky mud, that’s the area for you. It is also the area where you are most likely to find the really big crystals and clusters. While some people prefer to work the new tailings, I prefer to walk the old.

At the larger mines, generally you will find if the operators aren’t actively working the pit, they are pushing the tailings around. This makes room for more material and also turns the dirt over to expose new areas for better digging. I like to walk the old tailings because the energy seems softer. To me, the energy in the fresh tailings feels raw and exposed. Whether you prefer the fresh tailings or the old tailings will be something with which you will have to experiment; both have their ups and downs, pardon the pun.

This ends the discussion of when to dig. Things to keep in mind: the weather (whether it’s too hot or too cold, raining or during a dry spell), whether a mine is being actively worked, where the “new” tailings are being deposited and where the “old” tailings are.

Next time we’ll talk about what to bring on your trip to dig crystal in Arkansas. See you next time!

DIGGING QUARTZ CRYSTAL IN ARKANSAS 2 of 6: General Description

digging_crystal_in_AR-2-6Gen-DescLast time we discussed crystal mining in Arkansas and how it varies from digging. Digging your own crystal is a rewarding and exhilarating experience; because I’ll describe digging in much more detail later, for now, I will speak in generalities.

Most of the mines require a small digging fee for the entire day. You simply choose a mine, pay the fee, sign a liability release and then start digging. Safety is a major concern for all ages. Children need close supervision and must be guided and watched diligently. There are a lot of drop offs and places for little (and big) people to get seriously hurt. However, if the safety considerations are carefully observed, I would recommend crystal digging to people of all ages. It is important to remember that common sense is the most important tool to use.

A “working mine” will offer the best digging. When choosing a mine, you’ll want to find out how often they “work” it. You‟ll want to know if they dig every day, or if they are digging the day you are going to be there. Which day will give you the best chance to find something? Crystal digging is a bit like fishing; a mine that gave you lots of crystal last time may give you very little the next time. It depends on many factors. It depends on what the mine owners have found in the pit (and subsequently brought up in the tailings). It also depends on the weather (rain is helpful to wash the dirt off crystals that may not otherwise be seen), and believe it or not, it also depends on your own mood. I have discovered that if I‟m not in the right place mentally, the Crystal People seem to go into hiding. When I am feeling good, and my vibrations are high, when I am in a grateful space, I tend to see them more easily. Don’t worry; we will talk more about the specifics of crystal digging later.

crystal digging in ArkansasBreakage happens quite a lot, as you might imagine. Crystal is hard, but blasting and earth-moving equipment takes its toll. The process creates a lot of loose rock and dirt that has to come out of the pit. The mine operators are digging for the “premium” crystal, intact large points and clusters, with the key word being intact. The rest comes up in the tailings for rescue by you and me. There is a LOT of “premium” crystal to be found in the tailings; there is also a lot of breakage. When I say “premium,” I am not making a value judgment that these crystals are “premium” because they are “better.” Nor am I saying that the crystals in the tailings aren’t as worthy or powerful. In fact, at times, the crystals in the tailings seem more precious to me, because the very act of retrieval is why they aren’t in one piece.

Mount Ida and Jessieville crystal mines aren’t the only place you can find crystal in Arkansas. On hiking trails, along the roadside, even in Lake Ouachita (Wash-i-taw), you might happen upon a crystal point or two. Certainly you will find quartz matrix (smashed-in-the-spaces, non-point kind of quartz crystal). Of course, finding rock crystal (points) in these places isn’t as likely because there is less of it being uncovered by weather and erosion.

digging quartz crystal in ArkansasConvenience and use play a part in the question of size. Is bigger better? Does a large point put out more energy than a small point? Certainly, by mass alone, a 500-pound single crystal point is going to exude more energy than a tiny jewelry point, but this is not to say that the smaller points don’t have comparable energy or enough energy to matter. Comparatively speaking, a small crystal might have the same energy as a large point. By example, an ant can move ten to fifty times its body weight. Using that gauge, you can see that ants are stronger than humans, ounce for ounce. A small point may be stronger than a large point in the same respect; some very small points are deceptively powerful, meaning that bigger in size doesn’t always mean better. Also, it is easy to put a small point around your neck or in your pocket. Wheeling a 500-pound crystal around in a wagon would get tiring after a while! Depending on the crystal, its use and your need, a small point can be every bit as helpful to you as its larger cousin. The old adage is true about not judging a book by its cover (or an item by its size).

In the next post we’ll move on to discover when is the best time to go crystal digging. Gathering is technically the process that I’m describing, but to say you are gathering crystals invokes a picture of skipping through a meadow and picking flowers. This is not an accurate picture. What follows in the upcoming posts will be a detailed description of how to go about collecting your own crystals; when to go, what to bring, how to find it and finally, what to do when you bring it home. See you next time!

Where To Dig Crystal in Arkansas

crystal-mining-in-arkansasWHERE_TO_GOThis is one of the most asked questions I get, and it is actually a little bit difficult to answer for a variety of reasons.

First, there are several options available. The mines are all the same in that you are digging for crystal, but they also vary greatly in amenities, ease of access, whether or not they are currently being worked, etc…

Second, it is important to note that digging crystal is very much like fishing. It is dependent on the weather (not just on the day of, but also the days leading up to), how many people have been there before you, what they are finding in the “pit” and subsequently bring up to the tailings, how often they have turned over the tailings, on and on. Believe it or not, it even depends on your mood. Add to that already full equation there are several mines from which to choose making a sound recommendation difficult at best.

Arkansas crystal miningThird, I have also learned over the years, there is a fair amount of local politics to which I am not immune, so my mentioning or recommending one mine and not another, mine owners in the past have become rather testy and feel slighted or purposefully maligned which is never my purpose. They are all wonderful mines and have their own pluses and minuses. Honestly speaking, the only reason I would suggest one mine over another would be that to mention every mine, it’s assets and liabilities, would require much more time than I would like to spend writing and you would want to spend reading.

For this reason, I like to suggest the Mt. Ida Chamber of Commerce website. Many of the mines have web sites which you can access through their homepage. You may want to  contact the mines by email prior to going, and print out the crystal mine websites’ info and take it with you when you go. Mt. Ida is a tiny town, and all the shop owners are very helpful. Ask questions.

MOUNT IDA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
P.O. Box 6 Mount Ida, AR 71957 (870) 867-2723 e-mail:
mountida@ipa.net or they have a very nice web site. Visit them at:
www.mtidachamber.com

Arkansas crystal miningTo point you in a general direction, (if this is your first dig) I might suggest Ron Coleman’s mine in Jessieville. I suggest this one because it is the easiest one to both find and access. They have bathrooms (some of the mines, the bathroom is a tree or a bush !) and vending machines (soda/candy) and a large rock shop which is fun, too. They have also started offering zip line rides over the pit which look scary as heck to me, and while that’s not my bag, it may be yours!

At nearly all of the mines, it is a set fee per person to dig, you take all you find. It is good to ask when the mine was last “worked”, this will tell you whether there will be fresh tailings. It is handy to know whether they have amenities on site (bathroom etc), or whether you can reach the mine in the type vehicle you have etc. It also depends on whether you want a very rustic, physical, no-frills digging experience or a more polished, less strenuous dig. Your physical limitations and desires play heavily into the equation.

Anyway… I hope this is helpful to you. I realize it is a lot of information for you to ferret out on your own. I apologize I can’t whittle it down more than that for you, but at least I can point you to a log and hand you a knife so you can begin whittling based on your personal situation. I have information on my website on how to dig, what to bring, etc. (Scroll to the bottom for a printable version). Next blog post I will talk a little about the digging experience itself. So, with this post you can figure out where you might like to go, and next time I will give you some hints on what to bring, what to look for and etc.