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Janice Edwards digging for Crystal’s

When I was a young child around the age of 10, my parents bought me a crystal radio kit that you build on your own. I was delighted to be given such a gift, though I knew absolutely nothing about how radios worked. As my father helped me build it, he would explain to me how radio waves were transmitted through the air and how my little device worked to pick up these radio waves. I was very appreciative of my dad’s help and sharing his knowledge with me, but for some strange reason I was more enthralled by the crystal aspect of it. After doing some research at the local library I learned that the crystal substance found in the antenna and the detector were actually called “galena.” Galena is a form of crystals that scientist found could be used as a semiconductor in the earliest of radios to help pull in weak radio wave signals without an amplifier. A crystal detector was then used to convert the radio wave electricity back into sound wave electricity which then could be heard through a set of earphones. A crystal radio worked best picking up signals in the AM and Shortwave band, and because of limitations could tune into only one channel at a time. Today there are still those around who compete in contests to see who can build the best Crystal Radio. Eventually my excitement and my special, little radio wore out, though my enthusiasm for crystals never did.

A few years back a friend of mine told me about this guy that rented a booth every week at a local flea market in a neighboring town that sells crystals and other stones. I was also told that his prices were dirt cheap compared to what one buys in New Age type stores. So one Sunday I made the easy one hour trip from my home to check this guy out. This guy had an amazing collection of crystals and other stones, and his prices were anywhere from fifty to eighty percent less than what they sold for in the New Age stores. From that Sunday on I became a regular customer of his. Over time I asked him where he got his stones and he said, “Oh, I get them from different places like Montana, Oklahoma, California, Mexico and Brazil, but I get most of them over near Hot Springs, Arkansas.” When he mentioned Hot Springs my ears perked up. My very dear friend and favorite research partner, Janice Edwards, lives in Little Rock, AR not far from Hot Springs, and had suggested that we needed to plan a trip to the area to crystal dig. So during October 2008 we did just that.

The Sandy Method:
Basic Preparations for First Timers of Where, When, How and What to Look for When Digging.

There are two ways to dig for crystals…from a business that will allow digging inside a mine directly on a vein or from a pile of red clay brought out from the mine by dump trucks that has been spread out on the ground. Janice and I decided to stay above ground, and the size of the pile we dug in was twenty feet high, one hundred feet wide and several hundred yards long. In my opinion, this is the easiest and best way to dig for several reasons which I will explain later.

The wearing of old clothes is essential when digging. It is also advisable to wear boots or hiking shoes. Crystals grow underground, and the soil is red clay made red from iron ore deposits, and everything will be stained red when you leave and might not wash out. It is also advisable to wear boots or hiking shoes with good tread for a good footing on rough, rocky and loose soil on the pile. A soft pair of work gloves might prove handy as well.

There are several items I would highly recommend as part of your digging tools. A five gallon, plastic bucket to carry your equipment, several doubled layered, plastic bags like from Walmart, several long but thin, flat head screwdrivers, a small scraping tool, a short hand held, three pronged sharp pointed garden weeding tool, a small narrow shovel, and a change of clothes and shoes or blankets to sit on in your car when you leave. The shiny and reflective crystals you buy in the stores have been cleaned, but not the crystals you are digging for, so I would recommend not wearing sunglasses. I removed mine 15 minutes after starting to dig.

Some businesses will allow digging from sun-up to sun-down year round. One of our main concerns was the availability of a restroom since we did not know long we were going to dig (7 hours). Another concern was food and drink which were not available. An inexpensive, insulated cooler bought from Walmart filled with soft drinks and water and couple of sandwiches took care of this problem. Most businesses will charge 20 dollars a day per person to dig.

Janice and I arrived in Hot Springs early on a Sunday evening. Our plan was to gather up several crystal digging tourist brochures from the lobby of the hotel and drive around the next day and check out several locations for an all day Tuesday dig, but the hotel was out of brochures. The next morning we learned that a little town, Mount Ida, about 30 miles west of Hot Springs, had several locations to dig and was very popular with the tourists. A few minutes later we were in my car and driving west. About ¾ of the way to Mount Ida we had only seen one, ratty-ass sign for crystal digging and decided to stop at a small crystal store for exact locations. The owner of the store, Niles Boxer, was more than helpful. It seems that most of the businesses siphon off the good crystals to sell at their own stores before dumping into the piles the stuff they don’t want for the tourist trade. Not only did Niles share this information with us, he also gave us the name of a business and the location of a business that has two mines. One mine they use for their own supply, while the other mine is used for the tourists. In this way the tourist is able to find just as good and valuable crystals in the second mine as in the first mine. He also provided us shortcut directions from his store to the mine which was north of Hot Springs, which saved us at least an hour worth of backtracking driving. In appreciation for the inside information, we promised to return on Tuesday afternoon and purchase something from his store…a large, glowing center piece Amethyst in a Fountain with 200 smaller Amethyst Stones…all for a very reasonable price. To get in touch with Niles Boxer and to know his location, please see his business card on this web site.

Janice and I pulled into the digging area off a dirt road late Monday afternoon. The owner of the mine was taking a few days off and a good friend of his was caretaking for him. From the moment we stepped out of the car we liked what we saw. This was a somewhat out of the way, hidden location. It had restroom facilities, and the caretaker was friendly and helpful. New clay had just been dumped and turned over with the other clay, and there were only a few people digging.

The next morning we drove back out to the location. Out of the seven hours we spent there, there were only a total of 10 people including us digging. With the size of the pile and the few people, there was plenty of room for everyone to dig. The caretaker remembered us from the previous day and led us to a part of the pile that had broken away from the rest. He believed we would find some good crystals. Janice and I went to opposite sides of this broken piece, and within ten minutes Janice had found a very nice crystal cluster. After seven hours of digging within 30 feet of the broken piece, I found 118 crystals with some as clear as glass.

If you know what you are looking for one can find some really nice size crystals. Janice had been crystal digging two times in the past which gave her a nice advantage of what to look for. Though crystals are shiny and reflective, for the most part they are buried and covered in red clay. They are also covered with an orange/red iron ore deposits. Washing them in water removes some of the clay, but not all the clay and hardly any of the iron ore deposit. It takes a bath in an acidic solution to clean them thoroughly…which I will describe later in this piece.

Crystal digging for the most part is similar to the way an archeologist uncovers bones or a buried city. It takes a gentle touch and a time consuming approach, but it is well worth the effort. It is very important not to use a hammer of any size when digging. Crystals are for the most part rather fragile and will burst into a million pieces if hit by a hard object.

Although there is a trial and error period the first time a person digs, a person will soon be able to discern a small portion of a protruding crystal in a clump of clay. I began my digging process by using the three, pronged garden tool and slowly scraping away layers of red clay from first the side of the pile and later on the top edge of the pile. After about an hour I basically knew what to look for, and so then I began to use my screwdriver to gently loosen a clump of clay about twice the size of a softball. I then would use a smaller scraping tool or the screwdriver to gently break away smaller sections of the clump I had just removed. By doing this I was able to find a gazillion small crystals and some of these were nice enough to be used for jewelry points. As one can see in the two photos, I managed to find some larger crystals as well.

Another good place to look for crystals is under or beside a fair size rock. Gently dig and remove the clay from around the rock, and then slowly lift the rock straight up or out. I found half of the very largest of my larger crystals just under the surface. My theory is that the crystal moves through the clay and encounters the rock and cannot move forward anymore. If there is no sideway pressure on the crystal, then the crystal stays under the rock.

One of the best times to find crystals is soon after a good rain storm. Janice found the biggest crystals that day by walking on top of the pile. These crystals had been under the surface until the rain storm, but the rain had washed just enough clay away for Janice to spot the distinct shape of a nice crystal with just a little bit of the clay washed off by the storm. Janice and I also found some nice multi-color slate on top of the ground as well.

Now that you have returned home with your treasures it now time to clean your crystals and to bring out their natural beauty and energy. It requires the use of Acid that most crystal digging businesses will sell you at the dig site. I am also providing a link for a crystal cleaning process, but I like mine better…less work and time.

Very Important: To be cleaned outside and away from the house through the entire process.

A cleaned, sturdy, plastic bucket (I used a mop bucket)…

An acid…I used Muriatic Acid that can be purchased at any pool supply business. It comes in a 1 gallon plastic jug, sometimes wrapped in a plastic bag and tied off with a twisty tie…

A plastic colander with small holes or slits…

Plastic gloves…

Clean water from a garden hose…

The process:

Gently place the crystals in the bottom of the bucket…

If you have very large crystals, separate the larger crystals from the smaller crystals and clean separately.

Do not put any slate in the bucket or use Muriatic Acid on the slate. It will eat it up big time.

Carefully pour the acid into the bucket about 2 inches above the crystals, being very careful not breathe in the acid fumes or get the acid on your skin…It will burn you…

As soon as the acid comes in contact with the dirty crystal it will begin working and bubbling and give off acid smoke/fumes.

Place the bucket somewhere outside where people and animals cannot get to it. Also be aware of where the smoke/fumes are blowing.

If the smoke/fumes are too great, pour some water into the bucket to dilute the strength of the acid.

Let the acid work for 24 hours.

Place the colander on a flat surface outside and in a safe environment place…

Slowly and carefully pour the acid solution into the colander along with the crystals, and let drain for a minute or so…

Thoroughly rinse clean water over the crystals while still in the colander several times…

Thoroughly rinse out bucket with clean water and a soapy liquid…

Pour crystals into clean bucket, pour a bit of soapy liquid onto the crystals then fill up the bucket with hot water…

Thoroughly rinse and clean colander with soap and clean water…

Let stand for two to three hours. This allows the Muriatic Acid smell left on the crystal to be neutralized…

Thoroughly rinse the crystals in the colander to remove the soapy liquid…

A person now has not only cleaned the crystals, but they have transferred the energy of the crystals to themselves, but I undertake another process to further increase the energy level. I did this process with the crystals I dug up a few weeks ago, and also with any crystal I purchase at a store or the flea market after first cleaning them with water for a few seconds.

I simply place my crystals outside for 2 to 3 days. This allows the crystals to soak up the energy of nature…sun/moon…in a nice ying/yang type of balance, and allows me to use this energy in a good and productive way.

There is a rather cool demonstration one can do to see crystal energy. Take two smooth sided crystals into a dark room. Rub the crystals together and you will be amazed to see a multi-color light show emanating from the crystals.

Good Crystal Hunting,
Sandy Nichols