Sunday, February 2, 2020

Ultrasonic Cleaning of Fossils

Late last year I bought an ultrasonic cleaner from a seller on One of the uses for it was to clean fossils. After trying it out on coins and jewelry, I did not much difference in the before and after and shelved it. I think some of my issues though were in my process and the items I was trying to clean.

So this weekend I tried another coin and it seemed to clean it up quite a bit. The change (so to speak) I made in the process was using distilled water and heating it before hand in the microwave till it was coffee hot. I then added about 4-8 drops of Dawn dish cleaner to the water. Set the cycle to 480 seconds. Once complete, removed the basket and rinsed the specimen in tap water. Then brushed it with soft bristle tooth brush. Put the specimen back in the cleaner for another 480 seconds. Repeated this process until it seemed cleaner than before I started.

Above you can see the Devonian Period fossils I started with. A couple branching corals, button coral, and some crinoid holdfast stems.One can then observe what they looked like after I finished. The water was quite muddy looking at the end of the process. While not perfect, it was definitely an improvement.

Below is a link to the cleaner I was using. If you are interested make sure you read a sampling of the comments as they are a mix of works great to does not work at all. I experienced both cases of this and I think it depends on what you are trying to clean and the process you pick for the workflow of cleaning. I have since cleaned a number of brachiopod and blastoid fossils with good success.

Magnasonic Professional Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner with Digital Timer for Eyeglasses, Rings, Coins (MGUC500)

I am also experimenting with small Bissell steam cleaner though I need a way to hold the fossil in place while cleaning with this. Inspiration for this came after watch the BBC show The Repair Shop on Netflix. They use a wand like steam cleaner on ceramic items with amazing results. This type of device is especially good at getting dirty out of crevices and cracks. If I get good results using it on fossils I will make a posting about it.