I noticed a sponsored ad on yahoo this morning from Stauer,
promoting "Helenite". They claim it is a "stone" "Produced from
the heated volcanic rock dust of Mount St. Helens". As far as I
know this is nothing but green glass. Am i right in thinking that
this is deceptive marketing and a possible violation of FTC rules?
What do you all think about this?
Dug, you're both right and a little wrong. Helenite as you've
guessed, is glass.
(so is obsidian, a natural glass considered a stone, so just being
glass is not a problem in and of itself). It is man made too, as
you've guessed. The ash from Mt. St. Helens is quite alkaline,
basaltic. Very little to no silica. So by itself, it does not have
the makings of a glass. What they do, however, is to make up a batch
of their nice clear silica glass, and add a bunch of the ash. Not
actually very much, as more than a little will make a mess of their
Whether the green color is due all or in part or not at all to this
added Mount St. Helens ash, I don't know, but I suspect it's not.
Still, the material is made with at least a little bit of the actual
ash. Not much. But enough so the labeling is not totally false.
This is also not a new material on the market. I've seen it offered
by various sellers (here in Seattle, a couple shops in the Pike Place
Market have offered it as long as I can remember) since not long
after the eruption. You can also find in local tourist shops, little
glass bottles with printing on them listing distances, and filled
with ash from those various distances from the eruption.
Interesting, because the farther away you got, the finer the ash,
and it's visible in those little sample bottles. On a more cheezy
note, you can also find cutesy little sculptures made by mixing ash
with resin, and using that as the molding material, thus producing
genuine, gettem while they're hot (at this point, kinda lukewarm to
cold, actually) soooveneeers of Mt. St. Helens, which by the way is
still quite some distance from Seattle, making these kinda long
distance souvenirs. (For all I know, they might be made in China
too, but I don't know. But one clue is that you see that crap offered
in local downtown tourist shops, but not in shops in Pike Place
Market, which has rules requiring goods to be made by the vendor,
local, etc etc, and imported crap from Taiwan would get sellers in
really hot water pretty quick) Mt Rainier, on the other hand. Next
time That one erupts, we're gonna be in for a wild ride here. Much of
the land of the south Puget Sound area is built up of successive
ancient mud/debris flows from Rainier. So if, after Rainier's next
eruption, you find me selling stuff made from genuine, honest cause I
say so Rainier ash and/or mud flow junk, you'll know it's worth
paying me lots of money for.... Again, just cause I say it's worth
it, dontcha know... :-)