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Author Topic:   Repatinating Kerises
Mick
Senior Member
posted 11-08-2001 16:57     Click Here to See the Profile for Mick   Click Here to Email Mick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
About the time that the new format for this forum was implemented a topic regarding the patinating of Indonesian Kerises was introduced. There was discussion about the use of non-toxic materials and several chemicals were mentioned that could be used to substitute for the arsenic compound that is used in Indonesia.

At the tail end of this topic, someone mentioned the specific name of an industrial compound that could be utilized in the patination process (some commercial arsenic compounds will not stain the iron). The last comment in this topic was that someone else found that he could get this material from a commercial supplier in the US and was ordering some of it.

I have tried to retrieve this topic in order to chase down the two people who know what the proper material is called here in the US and where it can be procured. (The small amount of material that I brought back from Indonesia years ago is not sufficient to patinate the number of pieces that I wish to refinish.) This topic seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle from one system to the other and I can not find the specific portion that I have been looking for.

If any of you out there are the people who I am talking about or if anyone can point me in the proper direction to find these people, please e-mail me at

mickey_finn@nps.gov

I thank you in advance for your help.

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justin
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posted 11-08-2001 21:23     Click Here to See the Profile for justin   Click Here to Email justin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think you mean re-ethching them?I know that for new damascus here,people usually soak the blade in muriatic acid for 10-30 minutes,wash the blade with water and do it again if necesarry.

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Federico
Senior Member
posted 11-08-2001 21:30     Click Here to See the Profile for Federico   Click Here to Email Federico     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe the proper type of arsenic to be used is Arsenic Trioxide. If I remember correctly from the thread. You can get Arsenic Trioxide from a good chemical supplier. Though there are significant health pre-cautions that you should bare in mind.

I think also that ferric chloride was brought up too, but then ferric chloride doesnt really give the right contrasts.

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Ian
Senior Member
posted 11-08-2001 23:20     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian   Click Here to Email Ian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Arsenic trioxide is the most readily available arsenic salt. Organic arsenical compounds are sometimes used as pesticides (very largely replaced by less hazardous chemicals, although still used for certain troublesome mandibulates such as locusts).

As Federico says, arsenic is a very dangerous compound to keep about. In low doses it can eventually cause a number of different cancers. It was the favorite poison of the Borgias who used it to eliminate political opponents. Arsenic poisoning also appears to have done in Napoleon Bonaparte, whether administered by an assassin (possibly his personal physician) or inhaled from arsenic compounds that impregnated the wall paper in the last house he lived.

Poisons and famous people is another hobby. Don't get me started. Interesting, but WAY off topic.

Ian.

[This message has been edited by Ian (edited 11-08-2001).]

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M ELEY
Senior Member
posted 11-09-2001 09:05     Click Here to See the Profile for M ELEY     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WAY OFF TOPIC,IAN,BUT FASCINATING TOPIC NONE THE LESS!I,TO,AM INTERESTED IN TOXINS,VOLITILE CHEMICALS,& POISONOUS CRITTERS.PERHAPS A NEW TOPIC TO BRING UP,SUCH AS,WAS CURARE REALLY THE PREFERRED POISON ON S AMER INDIAN BLADES.I KNOW THAT THE POISON DART/ARROW FROGS OF CENTRAL AMERICA WERE READILY USED BY LOCAL TRIBESMEN. NEUROTOXINS ARE NASTY KILLERS. WHAT POISON DID THE TRIBES OF AFRICA USE? SNAKE VENOM?

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 11-09-2001 11:11     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
THE MASAI USED TO STICK THEIR SPEAR POINTS IN A ROTTING CARCASS FOR A FEW DAYS BEFORE GOING ON A RAID. THE PUNAN OF BORNEO USE A BLOWGUN (SOME WITH A SPEAR BLADE ON THE END) IT IS CALLED A SUMPITAN THEY USED SOME KIND OF PLANT POISON CALLED IPOH. IT IS ALSO USED BY SOME OF THE TRIBES IN MALAYSIA. I SHOT THE BLOWGUNS WITH SOME PUNAN IN BORNEO AND THEY ARE VERY ACCURATE AND EVEN I WOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM HITTING A MAN SIZED TARGET. WE WERE SHOOTING AT A COKE CAN AT 50 FEET (AS MAXWELL SMART WOULD HAVE SAID I MISSED IT BY THIS MUCH! ) THERE IS QUITE A LOT OF INFORMATION ON SUMPITAN- SUMPIT IN STONES PAGE 588. I ALSO HAVE STUDIED POISONS IT TO IS A WEAPON THAT HAS BEEN USED FROM ANCIENT TIMES TO THE PRESENT.

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Mick
Senior Member
posted 11-09-2001 12:23     Click Here to See the Profile for Mick   Click Here to Email Mick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Arsenic Trioxide rings a bell. Thank you gentlemen for your help.

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john
Senior Member
posted 11-09-2001 21:06     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Blowpipes! The Muruts (a tribe in North Borneo) use them as well. During WWII, many Japanese soldiers around the jungles in Kemabong and Sapong, Sabah were ambushed and killed with those poison darts from blowpipes. Nowadays, one ocassionally find some blowpipe shooting fun in fairs. Ops, I've digressed too.....

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Conogre
Senior Member
posted 11-11-2001 01:24     Click Here to See the Profile for Conogre   Click Here to Email Conogre     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a quick note....most snake venoms weren't readily used on weapons for several reasons....once dried, much of the effectiveness is lost, as the vipers in general usually are large, complex protien chains not all that dissimilar from raw egg white (which can be quite nasty if injected) as well as the fact that many vipers also inject a sizable quatity of venom not really possible on a dipped weapon. I've personally drunk raw rattlesnake venom with no ill effect whatsoever( at one time I had about 45 of the little devils, 3'-7' in length **grin**)...all in all snake venom just takes WAY too long to work, and too much of it is needed.
Various plant toxins were the most commonly used, although, true, the little S American tree frog is a notable exception.
As for decaying matter, it's fairly common knowledge that the toxin from the common botulism bacteria is one of the deadliest and most potent.

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M ELEY
Senior Member
posted 11-11-2001 22:59     Click Here to See the Profile for M ELEY     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
AHHH,THE OLD CLOSTRIDIUM BOTULUM TOXIN...ONE OF MY PERSONAL FAVORITES.IT'S SAID THAT IF IT WERE SOMEHOW POSSIBLE TO PRODUCE 1 GALLON OF THE STUFF,IT COULD KILL NEARLY EVERY HUMAN ALIVE. I SEE YOUR POINT ABOUT THE SNAKE VENOM,CONOGRE.STILL,IT WOULD SEEM THAT SOME ANIMAL TOXINS WOULD BE CONCENTRATED ENOUGH TO KILL IN SMALL QUANTITIES.THE STONE FISH COMES TO MIND. VANDOO,DIDN'T KNOW THAT ABOUT THE ROTTING MEAT & AFRICAN SPEARS...MOST FASCINATING. THIS WAS THE SAME CONCEPT THAT THE VIET CONG USED WHEN PREPARING A PIT TRAP OF SHARP PANJI STICKS.BY USING EITHER FECAL MATTER OR ROTTING MEAT,SEPSIS WAS SURE TO SET IN.IT WAS JUST AS GOOD TO SERIOUSLY DISABLE AN OPPONENT AS IT WAS TO KILL HIM OUTRIGHT.

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VANDOO
Senior Member
posted 11-12-2001 00:33     Click Here to See the Profile for VANDOO   Click Here to Email VANDOO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL POWER OF A POISON WAS ALSO OF IMPORTANCE. THE AFRICAN PYGMY'S WERE FEARED BECAUSE OF THEIR POISONED ARROWS( NOT THEIR SIZE), AS WELL AS THE JIVARO OF SOUTH AMERICA, AND NATIVES OF MALAYSIA AND BORNEO. TO WATCH SOMEONE DIE FROM POISON HAS ALWAYS MADE A BIG IMPRESSION, AND THE FACT THAT A SMALL WOUND IS SURE DEATH HAS SERVED AS A DETERRENT TO PEOPLE WHO WOULD INFRINGE ON TRIBAL TERRITORY. WITCH DOCTORS ALSO USED POISONS TO INSPIRE FEAR AND TO GAIN POWER AND WEALTH. AFTER SNEAKING SOME POISON INTO SOME FOOD OR CLOTHING HE WOULD LET IT BE KNOWN THAT HE HAD PUT A CURSE ON THE VICTIM AND WHEN HE DIED EVERYONE WOULD BELIEVE IN HIS POWER. THE PLANT KINGDOM HAS CREATED MORE DIFFERENT POISONS FOR ITS DEFENSE THAN ALL THE ANIMALS, OF COURSE THE PLANTS HAVE BEEN HERE LONG BEFORE THE VERTEBRATES AND HAVE BEEN FIGHTING INSECTS FOR MILLIONS OF YEARS.

[This message has been edited by VANDOO (edited 11-12-2001).]

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wong desa
Senior Member
posted 11-12-2001 02:44     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mick--herewith is an edited version of something that Alan Maisey wrote for his customers,and sent out with one of his catalogs some time ago.
I would have posted this earlier,but have been pretty much tied up with work the last few weeks.
Hope you find it helpful.


" To clean a rusty old keris blade:
Actually any mildly acidic agent will do the job.In Jawa the traditional agent is coconut water,but in recent years people have used other acids such as citric,and very dilute sulphuric.I prefer pineapple juice,which I can buy in 5 litre tins.Vinegar works well too.
Scrub the blade with detergent and a hard toothbrush under warm running water,to get rid of any surface dirt and oil.
Lay the blade in a trough and cover with the cleaning agent.A plastic wall paper hanging trough is good for this.
Remove the blade each day and scrub it under running water with a hard tooth brush,to remove the rust that the cleaning agent has freed up.I usually do this twice a day-morning and evening.
After a few days you will find that most of the rust has washed off ,but there will probably be still a few small areas that have little bits of hard rust stuck to them.Carefully chip these pieces of rust off with a sharp tool.A small sharp pocket knife blade, or a saddlers needle works well.
Most blades come clean in under a week,but it could take longer.My experience with pineapple juice is that longer periods in the soak do the blade no harm at all.Sometimes during hot weather a culture will grow on top of the pineapple juice,and it will start to smell bad.Ignore this,it does no harm----except maybe to your marriage if you have left the trough in the bathroom.
When all the rust is off,wash the blade thoroughly,and if you do not intend to stain it,kill residual acid with bi-carb of soda.Paint on a slurry,leave for a few minutes ,thoroughly rinse off.Pat the blade dry,and then leave in hot sunlight,or use a hairdryer to ensure totally dry.
This completes the cleaning process.


To stain a blade.
In Jawa this is a specialist job.It is not just a matter of turning the iron black.It is necessary to bring out the correct colours of the blade,and to do this it is necessary to know what the correct colours should be for each particular classification of blade.There are not very many people in Central Jawa today who can do this job well.(Every blade that I have acquired in Indonesia is given to a blade staining specialist --a mranggi--to clean and stain before I bring it home.Even though the man I use is regarded as probably the most skillful in Solo,I sometimes have to reject his work two or three times before I get the result I want.Occasionally I give up in disgust,and do it my self,when I get home.)

You will need:
Small quantity of laboratory grade white arsenic
(arsenic tri-oxide) .
The juice of a tahitian lime,strained to remove
solids.
A soft old toothbrush.
A small tumbler.
A day when the weather is not too hot, not too
cold,not too humid,not too dry.Say about 70F.
and about 50 percent humidity.
. A place open to sky light,but not to sunlight.
Some old,lint free cotton cloth.
Process:
Take sufficient arsenic as would cover a mans fingernail(this quantity is not critical).Make a paste of the arsenic with a few drops of lime juice.Gradually add more lime juice to produce a solution to the quantity of about one third of an egg cup.Let the solution sit for about 30 minutes.Work in the place identified above.Dip the brush into the solution,shake off the excess fluid.The brush should be damp,not wet.Rub the damp brush up and down each side of the blade.When the surface of the blade starts to get sticky,dampen the brush again.Repeat this several times,or as many times as it takes to bring up the colour.Keep working at it until the colour looks O.K.,or until the blade looks murky.Rinse it off under cold running water,pat dry with a lint free cloth,finish drying with a hairdryer(traditionally we dry it in the sun,but this is very hard to control,and if the blade gets too hot,it will finish up too dark).
After you rinse it, the colour will get paler.You then repeat and repeat the process until you get the colour you want.
When you reckon it is just about right,rinse and dry as above,spray with W.D.40 and leave to dry overnight before applying one of the traditional fragrant oils,usually sandalwood,or sandalwood based.
As noted above,different classifications of blade will be different colours.As a very broad guide,older blades will frequently be various shades of grey,rather than black with high contrast nickel pamor .It does not matter how clever someone might be at staining blades,he cannot make material which should appear grey and grey,appear black and silver.
There are other agents apart from arsenic which will produce some sort of a result on a keris blade,but they are not able to produce the correct colours;only arsenic can do that.

There you are:that`s the way to stain a keris blade.If you try it, be careful with the arsenic.If you are not,you might wake up dead.No, not really,but I must put this warning in because this is going out to so many people.Arsenic will kill you if taken by mouth in sufficient quantity,and will penetrate the skin and accumulate in your body ,and make you ill,and eventually kill you.People who work with arsenic ,treating timber and such,must have regular tests to ensure their arsenic levels are not rising.However,I have met a number of old men in Jawa who have worked with arsenic for years.They do not die of arsenic poisoning,but of heart attack,or emphasema.I have used the stuff periodically for about 40 years,and although I do have health problems now that I did not have 40 years ago,I don`t believe I can blame the arsenic.
Just one last word:the mistake most beginners make is to stain the blade too dark.This is not a disaster,just clean it off with powder sink cleaner(EG. Bon Ami)and steel wool and start again.
And one more last word.How long does it take?
Anywhere between ten minutes and ten days.Old blades normally stain fairly quickly and easily,more recent blades are sometimes very,very difficult.
And a tip on preventing blades from rusting in the first place:after applying oil,wrap them in plastic sandwich wrap."

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john
Senior Member
posted 11-12-2001 05:56     Click Here to See the Profile for john   Click Here to Email john     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Iwan, I needed the info as well.

Staining; Where do you get arsenic tri-oxide? I've taken note it's rather poisonous, so is it readily available? Noted Maisey's and Ian's caution; don't want to end up like Napoleon Bonaparte (but I was told the Arsenic also preserved his body). Lime, you particularly mentioned Tahitian lime; What about other types of lime or even lemon? Will they do?

General cleaning of keris; Sometimes I use colgate and toothbrush. Repeat a few times and then rinsed with water, dried and scent oiled. Do you think it's okay?

[This message has been edited by john (edited 11-12-2001).]

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wong desa
Senior Member
posted 11-12-2001 15:20     Click Here to See the Profile for wong desa   Click Here to Email wong desa     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I`ve never heard of using toothpaste and water to clean a keris blade.
Toothpaste is a mild abrasive,so it might make the white pamor a little whiter,and at the same time take away a bit of the black.
If it works,I guess its O.K.
But it can only ever be a temporary measure,just to get rid of dirt.And if that`s all its going to do,why not use mineral turpentine?

Tahitian limes are jeruk nipis.I don`t know all the other sorts of limes,but you don`t use kafir lime(jeruk perut nipis).Lemon tends to make the blade too dark,too easily.
I guess you could probably use any acidic agent with the same ph as jeruk nipis,but jeruk nipis is what is used in Jawa,and it works.

Arsenic is difficult to obtain.
In Jawa warangan is used,which is arsenic in an unrefined form,with a lot of impurities.
This is the best for the job,but you cannot buy it in the western world,as far as I know.
It is purchased from Chinese medicine shops and herbalists.

In Australia it is necessary to obtain a certificate,and maybe a licence too, which allows you to handle dangerous materials,then you purchase your arsenic from a chemical supply house.

Arsenic trioxide,laboratory quality,is expensive.
It is possible to buy cheaper grades,but the impurities in the cheaper grades can have very funny effects on a keris blade,like sending them red and gold and green.

There are a lot of different ways to clean and stain a keris blade,and the one that Alan outlined is only one of the many,but it is probably the easiest and most practical for someone who has never done it before,and only wants to do a couple.

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tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 11-12-2001 16:30     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Toothpaste does contain abrasive. I tend to use dish soap for simple washing of blades, and it neutralizes any remaining acid from past etchings or usings, too.

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Federico
Senior Member
posted 11-12-2001 21:25     Click Here to See the Profile for Federico   Click Here to Email Federico     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As far as I know at least before Sept 11 Arsenice Trioxide wasnt on the US government list of controlled substances. Meaning it was perfectly legal for private citizens to buy it. However with certain chemicals, while it is legal to buy it, it is up to the chemical supplier to monitor its sale to cover their own butts in case its not used for legitimate purposes. So it may still be difficult to purchase. Though it was my understanding that chemical suppliers were primarily on the lookout for possible drug chemists, and as far as I know arsenic is not used in the production of any illicit drugs. There are quite a few chemical suppliers online, so you could try and contact them. I dont know how successful you will be though now a days.

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Rick
EEWRS Staff
posted 11-13-2001 11:18     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most, if not all chemical suppliers online deal in bulk quantities (50# or more) of these substances; I tried to find a supplier about a year ago with no success. Long before 9/11 it was considered a hazmat in the U.S.
Possibly someone with academic ties can make contact with a college chemistry department to obtain a small amount.

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zelbone
Senior Member
posted 11-13-2001 12:36     Click Here to See the Profile for zelbone   Click Here to Email zelbone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I work in a clinical laboratory at a major university teaching hospital. In our storage room I ran across a few bottles of arsenic trioxide (amongst other nasty chemicals i.e. sodium ferrocyanide,36M HNO3,ammonium nitrate,etc.) I always wondered what we actually did with it (I'm sure we use it for some rare test as a catalyst or something.) I might have to "borrow" some for a personal experiment .
Of course you didn't hear me say that !!!

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Federico
Senior Member
posted 11-13-2001 13:12     Click Here to See the Profile for Federico   Click Here to Email Federico     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have you tried this company?
htthttp://www.vwrsp.com/catalog/product/?catalog_number=EM-AX1745-2
or
http://www.vgdllc.com/index.html
They had their disclaimer on what they wouldnt sell, arsenic trioxide wasnt listed.
Here's a good list of chemical suppliers:
http://www.math.ucla.edu/~barry/CF/suppliers.
It did say that local suppliers may have smaller quantities.

I did a some searching and calling. Checked the DEA controlled substance sheets wasnt there, did a search on the FDA and the EPA sites and couldnt find any restrictions either. Couldnt find any restrictions on arsenic trioxide. Also called a manufacturer, and went over the MSDS, while theres some nasty elements to the stuff, he couldnt find any restrictions. So for all intensive purposes, as far as I can tell, it should be legal. Then again it is the chemical suppliers perrogative whether to sell or not.

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Federico
Senior Member
posted 11-13-2001 13:19     Click Here to See the Profile for Federico   Click Here to Email Federico     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just as an aside. Here's a quote from factmonster:

"Its compounds are used in pigments, animal poisons, insecticides (e.g., Paris green), and poison gases (such as lewisite) for chemical warfare. They are also used in glassmaking, in calico and indigo printing, in tanning and taxidermy (as preservatives), and in pyrotechnics. Small quantities of arsenic added to lead in the manufacture of shot assure perfectly spherical pellets by delaying the solidification of the molten lead, and thereby allowing it to flow more readily; the arsenic also contributes hardness. A small amount of arsenic is added to germanium in the production of semiconductor devices such as transistors and integrated circuits. A number of organic compounds of arsenic are used in medicine; the best known is Salvarsan, formerly used extensively in the treatment of syphilis and yaws"

Its also used as a treatment for cancer.

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Mick
Senior Member
posted 11-14-2001 10:24     Click Here to See the Profile for Mick   Click Here to Email Mick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Iwan

Thank you for the complete story on this work. It saves me from having to hunt all over the world for the rest of the information.

In the past I have had some experience with this topic, but it was basically in Bali. I knew about the coconut milk soaking as I had seen vats of this material with 50 to 60 blades soaking for refurbishing. I have also seen blades with three colors rather than just black and silver (the third is a sort of brownish gold) and wondered how that happened. Your comment about impurities and colors resolved this question for me.

With my next retirement coming up in a month or so, I'll get the time to try some repatinating. If the results turn out well I'll probably stick a picture or so on the Forum. If they don't turn out well, I'll go back and do it again until I get what I want.

Thanks again


Mick

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tom hyle
Senior Member
posted 12-20-2001 17:13     Click Here to See the Profile for tom hyle   Click Here to Email tom hyle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm just posting here as the easiest way to show it to CharlesS. Does that cause difficulties?

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Wolfgang
Member
posted 12-20-2001 20:03     Click Here to See the Profile for Wolfgang   Click Here to Email Wolfgang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello @ all,
This is a good occasion for an addition to the topic:
Since you had no more findings of chemical pure arsenic in small portions, here is my hint were to get the raw arsenic called “warangan”.
It is an ore and it can be obtained at mineral collectors fairs. I don't know if the names for the minerals are international, but here are some with the chemical content > As S = Realgar, As2 S3 = Auripigment, Fe As S = Arsenopyrit, these can exist as minerals (crystals) but most often there is found a light to dark grey brittle mass that smells like garlic. Mineral collecting is a little bit wider spread then collecting ethnographic weapons, so there should be groups of enthusiasts in every town and for an ore there is no restriction and never a license required: only the content is not as reliable as in the chemical clean products and has to be cleaned of the often surrounding material and grind to powder in a mortar before the use. Be VERY CAREFUL when processing, the dust is poisonous! Also when heated arsenic changes into a more then unhealthy white smoke (gas) and I have never heard of one who dyed of to many precautions.
As a lime juice substitute I use concentrated citric acid from supermarkets food department, it works satisfying. To clean the deep structure of pamor I often use a soft steel wire-brush, but never one of brass: it would color the blade yellowish.
Please don't behave too weird when buying this mineral or you might make the same experience as I did when I was in Ireland and just went to a chemist to buy a small bottle of two percent nitric acid to make a katana’s temperline visible: the shops staff ran around like upset chicks and stared at me, as if I were from the IRA and was ordering ingredients for a A-bomb.

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ruud
Member
posted 12-21-2001 07:41     Click Here to See the Profile for ruud   Click Here to Email ruud     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with Wolfgang. Realgar and Orpigment can be obtaint on mineral fair but also on the internet. Still, be very carefull. Realgar is considered to be the best quality. The more deep purple or even brownish color you have in your sample, the more Realgar is in it, the better the quality. The more yellow and white, the more Orpigigment and impurities are in it.
The best quality comes from China (Hunan province). Costs on Java are astronomical, but here in the West moderate.

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