Malachite is interesting stone, historical, lovely, and complicated. It’s striking green color makes it a very sought after material. In this article, we’ll talk about how to clean malachite.
Physical Cleaning of Malachite
Malachite can be temperamental when it comes to cleaning and care.
It is a lovely color green, and that is because of the significant amount of copper in the material.
The downsides of copper is that copper is quite soft (and thus the stone is damaged easily), and the material can be pretty toxic to humans.
Putting water on the stone can actually release toxic fumes, and breathing in dust from cutting or polishing the stone is bad too.
When cleaning malachite, you also have to make sure that you avoid doing anything to the stone that hurts or removes the outer sealant that makes the stone safe to handle and wear regularly.
How to Clean Malachite: Raw Material
In general, the initial recommendation for malachite is to do as little to the material as possible.
If you do need to clean it (if the stone is raw and recently collected), here’s what we recommend:
- Plan to clean up your malachite outside or in a well-ventilated space that opens to the outdoors.
- Wear gloves.
- If you are going to do anything to the stone that creates malachite dust, wear protective clothing, goggles, and protection over your nose and mouth to keep from breathing in particulate.
To clean the stone (let’s say it is covered in dirt):
- rub/brush the stone with a dry toothbrush to see what you can take off of the stone
- submerge the stone in water
- scrub the stone to see what from the soaking comes off
- if the stone isn’t cleaning up, try scrubbing with simple dish soap
- if the initial scrubbing isn’t doing enough, leave the stone in the soapy water in a well-ventilated space overnight, then try rinsing and scrubbing again the next day
In general, because the material is so soft, we wouldn’t recommend tumbling it.
If you do, however, make sure you only tumble it with materials that are of equal hardness, and make sure you dispose of the coppery water/used grit with a care to its contents and potential toxicity.
Using Bleach or Other Chemicals
While other collectors report using a weak solution of bleach, or soaking with vinegar, we are hesitant to recommend it.
It can be frustrating to try and remove what looks like lime/calcium from a malachite specimen, but the risk is that using the products that remove lime/calcium could also damage the stone.
The same is true for Iron Out, bleach and/or vinegar.
In general, we recommend that you stick with scrubbing or using a dremel tool to clean up stubborn spots.
But the downside to malachite is that sometimes it is very difficult to bring the stone to the same condition of shape and shininess as other materials that can simply be dunked in a solution of acid and forgotten for days or even weeks.
Cleaning Finished Malachite/Malachite Jewelry
Malachite is often used in jewelry and decorating.
In general, a sealed version of malachite is used, covered in some sort of physical barrier to protect the stone from damage and also to keep from coming into direct contact with the coppery surface.
When cleaning malachite, as noted above, the priority is to maintain the integrity of the seal.
As such, we generally suggest that you start with wiping the stone with a soft cloth, or even buffing it lightly with the cloth.
If the stone still seems dirty or greasy, moisten the towel lightly and clean up the stone.
Avoid soaking the stone for amount of time if you can help it.
We also don’t recommend using soap or any other solutions unless it can’t helped.
When all else fails, clean up the stone as much as necessary and then look to re-seal the stone.
Better yet, take your jewelry to an experienced jeweler and let them take care of the cleaning and re-polishing.
How To Cleanse Malachite (For the Metaphysical Side)
For those who collect malachite for the other benefits of the stone (environmental, healing, understanding), understanding the physical attributes of the stone will help you understand what you can do (or not do) to cleanse your stone.
You may read about folks putting the stone out in the sun, soaking it in water or other solutions, cleaning the stone with salt, soaps or even acids.
They might recommend that you heat the stone for a certain amount of time.
For the reasons mentioned above (ease of damage as well as toxicity), we can’t recommend that you try and cleanse your stone in a way that could make the stone dangerous.
Anything that might damage of the sealant on the stone makes the stone dangerous, unless you don’t plan on handling the stone at all.
So much about collecting stones (whether you believe in the metaphysical attributes or not) is personal.
You develop experience over time working with the materials, and learn what works for you and what does not.
The same is true for working with malachite.
You can read tons of blog posts about it, but in the end, you’ll need to experiment and see what works and what does not.
Options for Cleansing That Shouldn’t Hurt The Integrity of the Stone
Like we said above, work with your stones until you find what works for you.
But if you need some ideas, you can try:
- burying the stone and leaving it for hours or even days
- sprinkling dried herbs on the stone
- placing the stone out in the moonlight
- sitting the piece on top of a piece of quartz