Minerals, Stones & Toxicity

Many minerals are toxic, but only when ingested, mishandled, or improperly used. That’s great news for any avid gemstone lover who loves wearing or holding stones but is nervous about coming into contact with toxic crystals.

Most of the time, wearing gemstone jewelry, holding one, or even being near one or in constant contact with one for extended periods of time won’t cause problems. If it did, you would already know, as the toxicity would be acute. However, it’s still critical that you understand the risks associated with certain stones in various situations, as toxic gemstones do exist.

A Rundown on Toxic Crystals

It is likely that no specimens that you’ve come across in your purchasing, mining, or discovery of minerals and gemstones are unsafe to touch or wear. However, here are a few to watch out for:

  • Quartz is toxic and can cause silicosis. But unless you inhale quartz dust, work in a quartz mine without a mask, or ingest quartz, you won’t suffer any negative effects.
  • Pyrite’s toxicity is similar to that of quartz. Handling it is fine and won’t cause problems. But if swallowed or left in water, where it dissolves easily, it could cause serious problems for living organisms.
  • Cinnabar, arguably the most toxic mineral due to its mercury sulfide compound, is probably the most dangerous to handle. It is barred from production and use except for in very limited quantities.
  • Mercury sulfide, another toxic mineral, can be absorbed through the skin, but it’s not confirmed how much is usually absorbed. It’s usually okay to handle it, but gloves are recommended.

quartz stone against a black background

Toxic Crystals and Water

In light of the above, when it comes to decorating your fish tank, bath, or water bottles with beautiful gemstones and dazzling minerals, extreme care must be taken. Minerals that are soluble, or dissolve, in water are not too common in comparison with the total number of minerals, but those that exist have some levels of toxicity and can be fatal when ingested.

Toxic Crystals to Avoid

Avoid dolomite, calcite, malachite, and halite. These toxic crystals can cause fish to die. However, most quartz crystals and toxic gemstones are fine because they are not soluble in water. Also, acidic stones or any other types of minerals that affect pH levels are not safe. This includes limestone and, to some extent, sandstone.

The good news is that most gemstones don’t affect acidity. However, any gemstone that flakes a lot should not be placed in water. For safe measure, any ore-producing mineral should also avoid water.

Note that some minerals have dangerous reactions when exposed to water. Pyrite, for example, can create sulfuric acid. Pyrite is flaky and has ore anyway, so it’s not safe regardless.

Photo of pyrite against black and white background

Safe Stones to Choose

Up to now, we’ve discussed a great deal about toxic gemstones. So, what exactly is safe?

As mentioned earlier, quartz crystals are safe (including amethyst, usually). Jade, granite, slate, and petrified wood are all safe, too. They don’t flake, have no exposed ores, aren’t metallic, don’t dissolve in water, and aren’t toxic unless ingested. Cryptocrystalline stones are safe as well. These include agates, jaspers, and similar stones.

Keep in mind that none of the above-mentioned information is concrete. PH levels, temperature, type of fish, etc., can all impact whether a stone is safe for you, your tank, and other living organisms. It’s a vital responsibility on your part to look up whether a stone is safe for your tank.

Order Gemstones from Crystal Gemstone Shop Today

At Crystal Gemstone Shop, we are a leading provider of gemstones and crystals from across the globe. Our gemstones, which are generally safe, stand out for their metaphysical properties and beautiful physical characteristics.

Take a peek at our many gemstone options, ranging from quartz to pyrite, and order your favorites today!

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