Obsidian is really sharp! In the article that follows, you’ll all about obsidian and why it is that way.
Why is Obsidian So Sharp? (EXPLAINED)
Dating back to paleolithic times, Obsidian has long been used as a cutting tool.
From its very early form used as broken off flakes from larger pieces of the rock, to later, intricately carved tools and knives, Obsidian has been seen in every culture that has an ancient past, and the stone has found its uses today, even in modern surgery.
Much of this resilience against time and not falling out of obsolescence has to do with the fact that Obsidian naturally cuts sharper than most other materials, even diamonds and fine steel.
This is evident at the microscopic level, a fact not known until modern times.
Why is Obsidian So Sharp Being Natural Rock?
The very nature of Obsidian’s sharpness comes from its creation inside volcanoes.
Earth’s own forces and incredible pressures make Obsidian and its benefits possible.
Obsidian is a product of felsic lava, a lightweight version of magma that has exuded from inside a volcano and cooled off quickly, forming a crystal structure versus the otherwise normal volcanic rock matter at the molecular level.
That integrated crystal structure is the key to how Obsidian functions as a cutting edge.
It has such a fine alignment of molecules internally, the edge of Obsidian becomes sharper than most other things that exist in the world for cutting, whether natural or man-made.
Even nanotechnology-made cutting tools have a hard challenge coming close to Obsidian.
Specifically, a fragment edge of Obsidian can be edged down to 30 angstroms.
One angstrom is equal to a one hundred millionth part of a centimeter.
In short, it is pretty darn small. 30 angstroms is still extremely thin and as sharper if not sharper than a diamond edge.
Man-Made Tools Just Don’t Come Close
For comparison, the typical facial razor blade, which most people consider extremely fine, measures between 300 and 600 angstrom.
It might as well be a blunt hammer compared to the sharpness an Obsidian edge can have.
The effect of the Obsidian edge is so dramatically better, some surgeons insist on using the rock in the form of a specialized scalpel rather than traditional medical fine steel tools.
The results speak for themselves; the scarring that comes from a typical scalpel is far more pronounced than the cut by an Obsidian edge.
The difference is at the molecular level.
A Sharper Edge Produced Better Results
Obsidian edges are well known for causing minimal damage when the rock edge cuts into the body and tissue it’s applied to.
The wound heals exceptionally fast because the injury caused by the Obsidian edge leaves far less damage for the body to repair.
This happens at the microscopic cellular level.
When the Obsidian edge cuts into organic material, it’s sharpness actually separates the cells into clean halves.
A normal blade, which is far more blunt at the cellular level, tends to smash, crush, and obliterate its way through the organic building block.
That in turn leaves an obvious path of destruction at the microscopic level similar to what a tornado path in our size world.
Modern scalpel edges are also microscopically rough.
This works as a saw when it cuts through skin and tissue.
And, just like a wood saw, it leaves a very rough cut.
The knowledge of this difference in cutting power was well known to the ancient world, which was why they used Obsidian for early surgical tools and ancient medicine.
For those who doubted this old knowledge, the proof was made evident in studies that examine cuts with microscopic photography.
The Obsidian cut was smooth, even and even.
The steel scalpel cut at the microscopic level was pure mayhem.
The cut edges were jagged, uneven, irregular and messy.
To the naked eye the scalpel cut seemed smooth, but to the body’s healing process it might as well have been the Grand Canyon.
Healing Results Proved Obsidian’s Cutting Case
In some medical experiments, the effect of healing was made evident by action.
Both an Obsidian scalpel as well as a traditional medical one were used on the same surgical location on the body, with the patient’s agreement.
The difference in healing was visible, even without a microscope.
In four weeks post-surgery, the traditional scalpel cut healing was scarring and visibly disturbed.
The Obsidian cut was less dramatic, and the wound was closing far more naturally without irritation and disturbance.
The above has been proven again and again to the point that now companies exist that specifically create Obsidian tools.
They are particularly useful for patients who have known allergies to traditional medical tool materials.
To effect such precision cutting prior to the availability of Obsidian edge tools, doctors used to have to rely on diamond-based scalpels or similar.
The cost was tremendously different and higher.
A Technology That Won’t be Seen Regularly
Unfortunately, the average patient is not likely to see an Obsidian scalpel or cutting tool in the hospital as a standard tool (or an obsidian sword out on the battlefield).
Aside from a special request by the patient, the use of such materials is not allowed or approved by the national Food & Drug Administration.
Furthermore, Obsidian has a known strength problem; it’s brittle and can easily break.
And that’s not necessarily a good performance factor when working on another human being medically.
Without very careful application and knowing beforehand exactly how to handle an Obsidian edge, most experts with the rock, even in medical circles, agree people would get hurt and make serious mistakes, even lose fragments inside surgical incisions.
Today, Obsidian hardly seems to have a place in the modern world aside from being an interesting artifact, a useful soft rock tool to carve or shape, or to use as a nostalgic experiment in archeological studies.
However, it’s also not a bad element to be aware of for personal survival.
If Obsidian-based technology worked for centuries with peoples and cultures that lived long before anything today, there’s nothing preventing the same rock and sharpness from being useful in a pinch in the wilderness.