No, hematite should not go in water. It can be rinsed off or cleaned briefly with water, but it should not sit in water for extended periods of time.
Let us explain.
Why Can Hematite Go In Water? (Or Not)
In general, we recommend against putting important rocks, minerals, or crystals in water for extended periods of time.
This is especially the case when the rock contains metal or a metal oxide.
Hematite is an iron oxide compound.
It has the formula Fe2O3 and it found commonly around the world.
What happens when you put iron oxide in water?
I bet you can guess: it rusts.
Hematite comes in many different colors: black, steel, silver, gray, red, brown, reddish brown, and more.
Many kinds of minerals possess large amounts of hematite, inclusions of hematite (changing the color of the base material), or even trace amounts that are not visible.
Many collectors do not realize that the brilliant red or yellow colors of their stones are the result of the presence of hematite in the material.
Water is troublesome to hematite for many reasons.
As noted above, exposure to water causes materials containing hematite to rust.
Practically, it means that the surface of the mineral can turn yellow, or even reddish brown.
It also means that the rusting occurs beyond the surface of the material, sometimes deep into the material.
This means that removal of the rust is extremely difficult, even if the collector cuts off the exterior or grinds it off.
Many collectors use CLR or muriatic acid to try and clean off rust off the surface of the material.
But defending on how deep the rust has penetrated into the stone, it may be impossible to do without cutting large chunks away.
In the case of a piece of hematite, or a mixture that includes a lot of hematite, we’d expect the entirety of the stone to turn yellowish over time, as well as develop some reddish streaking.
Next, water molecules in those cracks also tend to encourage the cracks to widen, especially if the water bath is salt water.
This can cause visible cracks in the material (with rust deep down), as well as cleaving of the material.
Water is also notorious for ruining the pretty, shiny, glossy finish of a beautiful stone.
The water in the surface fissures can change the way light refracts off the stone, leaving it looking dull.
Water can also strip off commercial polishing, which is applied to stones to emphasize the color of a piece of material.
Sometimes water can even react with the surface of the stone (aside from rusting) to change the exterior color of the material.
How To Clean Hematite
The preferred way (if possible) to clean a rock containing iron oxides is with a clean cloth or toothbrush.
But if the cloth/brush is not enough, a brief dip in water to help clean up and shine up a stone won’t hurt it, as long as the exposure to water is brief and the water is completely dried from the stone.
Most of the water can be removed with a cloth, but it is always best to allow the stone to air out and dry out (flipping it over at least once) to let any stray water evaporate out.
Avoiding Water Baths In General
It is pretty common for stones containing red, orange, or yellow coloring to contain iron oxide, though other minerals can cause these colors as well.
Sometimes it will be obvious that there is iron oxide, and sometimes it is not.
This is yet another reason why we don’t recommend that people soak their stones in water baths, regardless of what the chemical composition of the stone appears to be.
Sometimes you just don’t know what your stone contains, and sometimes there is no way to know absent scientific testing.
And when you put your stone in water for extended periods of time consistently, you might very well be damaging your precious and important stone.
Instead, it is recommended that you pursue water bath alternatives if you are looking to clean, cleanse, activate, or recharge your hematite.
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