Bloodstone is not dangerous to the average hobbyist, so long as you take reasonable precautions to avoid inhaling or consuming bloodstone.
But “not dangerous” doesn’t mean “not toxic.” Bloodstone contains compounds that are toxic to humans.
Confused? Read on, and we’ll explain.
How Is Bloodstone Toxic?
Let’s start with the word “toxic.” How you define toxic will influence how you answer this question. In general on this site, we accept that “toxic” means a substances that will cause serious injury or death if it is consumed or otherwise taken into the body.
What in Bloodstone is Toxic?
Now, let’s look at the components of bloodstone. Bloodstone is another name for a mineral aggregate called heliotrope. Heliotrope is a member of the quartz family, and is made up of silicon dioxide. It is usually a mixture of a member of the quartz family like jasper, along with some other substance.
Classic bloodstone is a darker colored stone with flecks of bright red inclusions. The red flecks are often hematite. Hematite is an iron oxide compound.
Both silicon and iron are substances that could be toxic to humans if the human were to consume it or otherwise take it into their bodies.
If Bloodstone Contains Toxic Compounds, Why Would You Say It Is Not Dangerous?
The reason that a mineral aggregate like bloodstone can be both toxic and not dangerous is that it is difficult for the toxic components to get out of the stone and into your body.
If you touch or hold bloodstone with your bare hand, it is unlikely that any of the silicon or iron will cross the barrier of your skin and be absorbed into your body, even if the rock was wet.
If you were to swallow a piece of bloodstone whole (which we don’t recommend), it is unlikely that the acid juices in your stomach would be able to work on the stone enough while it is passing through your intestinal system to cause you to absorb silicon or iron in sufficient quantities to harm you.
It is pretty common for well known crystals or stones to contain a toxic substance.
Tiger Eye contains asbestos.
Bumblebee Jasper contains arsenic.
Cinnabar contains mercury.
Malachite is full of copper.
But in each case, the question is “how will the toxic substance get out of the stone and into the body?”
Because the element is a stone, and the toxic elements are bonded together within the stone, it is pretty hard for the bad stuff to get out of it.
And even then….if it could get out, how would it get inside of your body in a sufficient quantity to actually do damage?
How Could Bloodstone Be Dangerous? How Could One Harm Themselves With Bloodstone?
The primary way that people cause damage to themselves with toxic stones like bloodstone is by dropping them on a toe, or by tripping over them.
The reason? Most people handle their stones prudently, and do not do the things that we write about below.
The next way people cause damage to themselves is by failing to take precautions against breathing it in while working with it.
When minerals are mined, cut, ground, or polished, the work creates small particles that get pushed up into the air.
When a human breathes them in, in large quantities and over a long period of time, this is when damage to the body is most likely to occur.
When working with bloodstone (meaning mining, cutting, grinding, or polishing), we recommend that you wear a mask and goggles, and do your work in a well-ventilated area.
This will keep you from breathing most of the particulate in the air, and keep the dust from entering the body via contact with your mucous membranes.
But if you were accidentally to breath in some bloodstone dust, like off your clothes while changing, it is unlikely to cause you any harm because the exposure wouldn’t be sufficient.
Purposefully Consuming Bloodstone (Eating or Drinking)
The next way people can cause themselves damage with toxic stones like bloodstone is by grinding it up and eating or drinking it.
As discussed above, if you were to swallow a stone whole, the stone would likely pass through before the acid in your stomach could go to work on the surface area of the stone. Very little, if any, of the toxic substances in the stone would be absorbed by your body.
But if you were to grind it up into tiny particles, you dramatically increase the likelihood that your body will absorb toxic elements from the stone. More surface area of the stone would be exposed to your body. And, as small particles, the stone is likely to remain in your body much longer.
Depending on the stone you are grinding up to drink, how much of it you consume, and how often you consume it, harm could result dramatically quicker than it would via inhalation.
How To Handle Bloodstone Safely?
Bloodstone is a really stable stone, as it is a member of the quartz family. You can touch it with your bare skin, and use water to wash it.
Compare this to malachite, which should not be handled with bare skin, and should not be placed in water because of the likelihood that the copper in it would react with the water to create toxic gas.
In general, so long as you wear protective gear while working with it, and don’t go out of your way to eat or drink it, you need not worry about taking additional safety measures.
Putting Bloodstone In Water
While we’ve said that we think it is safe to put bloodstone in water, in general we recommend against soaking the stone in water baths for an extended period of time.
Bloodstone’s characteristic red flecks are generally the result of inclusions of an iron oxide. When you place a metal in water, over time, it starts to rust. This can lead to unsightly changes in color of the stone, which are particularly obvious if your stone is lighter in color or translucent.
The rust is really difficult to remove.
Putting minerals in water can also encourage the formation of cracks in the material or even make it easier for the stone to break.
And finally, water often messes with the shiny finish of a polished stone. It is not uncommon for people to pull their stone out of a water bath to find it dull, or even rough looking.
Want to learn more about rocks and minerals? Check out our blog for our latest articles.