Yes, agates can go in water. But putting minerals and crystals in water for extended periods of time is generally a bad idea, as it can damage the appearance and finish of the material.
Let us explain.
Why Can I Put Agates In Water? (EXPLAINED)
What Is An Agate And Why It Matters
In determining whether a rock is safe to put in water, you need to know first what you have and the properties of the material.
Agate is a member of the silicon dioxide family, much like quartz and onyx.
Agates are not rare, and are found around the world in many forms, shapes, sizes, and colors.
It shares many of the physical attributes of the quartz family, such as hardness (above a 6 on the Moh’s scale), and durability (less likely to fracture or shatter).
It is also not water soluble.
For these reasons, very little outward harm occurs to agates when they are cleaned with water, soaked in water, or spend significant time in water (as they do in creeks, lakes, and the sea).
However, if you have a piece of material and you are not sure that it is an agate, then it is a pretty bad idea to test out the theory by putting it in water to see what happens, especially if the piece is something well finished or special to you.
Why You Shouldn’t Put Agates In Water
Just because a stone, mineral, or crystal isn’t immediately destroyed when placed in water, doesn’t mean you should do it.
Water is a destructive force, even as it sits quiet and calm in a bowl or cup.
When rocks and minerals are placed in water, the water molecules immediately find all the nooks and crannies of the material.
Most of these are smaller than our eyes can see.
As the water gets into those cracks, it slowly encourages those cracks to widen.
While this might not result in an immediately cleaving, the long term impact can be permanently damaging to the stone.
A stone might appear smooth and shiny, or perhaps it was made so by tumbling or hand polishing.
Soaking the stone in water widens those small cracks, changing the way light bounces off the stone, making it appear dull or the color less vibrant.
This is especially the case when the stone has been polished and buffed with an oil or commercial polish.
Water will strip all of that off, leaving the stone looking dull.
And, if the polish was tinted to enhance the colors of the agate, the owner of the stone might not be able to return the piece to its original look.
In some cases, especially if the agate contains a little (or a lot) of metals or metal oxides, the stone can start to look yellow (and not in a good way), or even show signs of rusting.
The yellowing/rust can go deep inside the stone, so much so that it cannot be buffed, ground, or even cleaned from the agate with acids.
And while agates can go in dry salt without too many problems, saltwater can make the damage water alone does even worse.
But I Found My Agate In The Water…
People might argue, but I found my agate in the water, how could putting the agate in the water more do it harm?
Take a look at your beautiful stone, and try to guess what it might look like if it had not been in the water for weeks, months, years, or scores of years.
Before the stone would be larger, more brilliant, less covered in yellowish spots, would have fewer cracks, pits, rough spots.
If it is a small piece, most likely the agate was cleaved off of a larger piece at some point, worn down by the constant assault of the water (especially seawater) and the jostling of other stones.
Like we said above, you can put an agate in the water.
It won’t create toxic gas (like malachite), and it won’t dissolve (like selenite).
But the water could still encourage permanent physical damage and ruin any purposeful finish work applied to the stone after it was brought in from the elements by a rockhounder.
It Is Okay To Wash An Agate With Water?
There will be no harm to the stone by briefly rinsing off a stone and then buffing it with a cloth.
However, if an oil (like mineral oil) has been wiped on the stone to make it appear wet all the time, some of that oil may come off and need to be reapplied.
In general, it is best to start by rubbing a stone with a dry cloth to clean it, but a brief splash of water should be fine.
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