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Slabs that smell like bug poision

Hello, I purchased some slabs from someone offline. They are plume
agates and BERYLIUM , or common opal. When I got them they are great
slabs, only thing is the guy must have kept them in his shed with all
the bug poisons, or pesticides(sp). They reek really bad. I have tried
to soak them in water in the house and nothing. They still stink. I
dont want to make cabs out of these till most of the odor is gone.
Does anyone have a suggestion? I know this is uncommon… or at least
I think but I thought would be worth the try. I really like this board
and all of the suggestions and posts are alwasys helpful. Differnt
styles help too. Sometimes other things work better :slight_smile:

Thank you in advanced :slight_smile:

Hi: you are probably experiencing the smell of pella oil or
kerosene…both are used as stone lubricants and are very
penetrating light fluids… they also stink…

Ringman John Henry

I have had some dyed black drusy that smelled like that - - -I was
told it was the dye. The smell eventually went away - although I did
wash thoroughly after handling the material - -the smell was very
acidy smelling to me. - - - Marty

luna - actually all you have to do is sand the surfaces of the slabs
before you start working them, but to save that effort try soaking
them in white vinegar for a little while - after that store them in
airtight containers with scrunched up newspapers; the newspapers will
absorb the smell. good luck -


Hey, there, lunarcowgirl- I’ve never encountered slabs that stink of
anything except Almeg oil or the like. Still, I have to ask, why don’t
you cut some cabs and see what happens? If the stink has not
penetrated deep into the stone, cabbing your slabs may solve the
problem-- hopefully, the stink will be a surface phenomenon and will
be ground or sanded off when you shape the cab.

Might want to wear a particle-filter mask when you cab these, as you
don’t necessarily know what chemical is causing the stench.

Lee Einer.

What you are most likely smelling is the cutting oil used when
cutting the slabs. It can get to smelling very bad. The solution,
First clean the stones with dish soap. Laundry soap will not work.
The dish soap is formulated to cut oil and grease. I recommend using
very hot water with a lot of soap. Watch the opal and other heat
sensitive stones though that you don’t thermal shock them. Now after
you have cleaned the stones the best you can with the soap and water,
place them on a wire rack and put them in the sunniest spot in your
yard and leave them for several days. The heat of the sun will drive
off the remaining oils and after a while, your slabs will smell like
rocks. If you have a Kiln, you could replace the sunshine with an
overnight at say 175 deg. It will accomplish the same thing. Just
make sure the Kiln is vented well. You need to watch the heat in
this manner though as you can color shift some materials.


Hi - It may be the saw oil they used to cut the material up with -
some people use kerosene and other smelly stuff. You might try soaking
them in varsol or similar solvent to soak the saw oil etc. out. Then
stick it in kitty litter to draw the solvent out. After that a soak in
a strong detergent solution and a soak in plain water should clean
them up.

Hope that does the trick.

Cameron Speedie
Island Gem and Rock

I think that I would first soak the slabs in something like Kerosene,
or other LOW flashpoint petroleum based product. this would most
likely liquefy and dilute whatever is causing the odor. I would then
place the slabs in a container of “Kitty Litter”, ( the cheap kind )
for a few days. This should draw out any liquid that is imbedded deep
down in the slabs. Then a good hot soak in very warm soapy water to
remove any residue remaining should do the trick. This is how I treat
my slabs to remove the ALMAG I use as a cutting oil.
I hope this is of some help to you.

As some people say - we had an analogous case in our village :slight_smile:
Although I do not know the kind of bug poison that is used for
reference, I can imagine it reeks a lot like that I have experienced.
First I thought that the cutter was a heavy smoker and kept the slabs
for a long time close to his favourite smoking chair, but later I
decided the smell came from triethanolamine which was a component of
saw anti-rust additive to some of industrial water-based saw coolants
(in the former USSR). Surprisingly enough, my attempts to wash away
the stink by dilute acid, that should dissolve both nicotine and other
tobacco smoke tars and triethanolamine as well - was not very
successful. It did help, but not completely. After 10 years the smell
is gone, if that is good news :slight_smile: If the stuff is really a bug poison,
washing the slabs with acetone or iso-propanol may help. As to the
effects of these solvents on common opal, I am not sure. Agates and
beryls are safe. Eddie, the chemist from Latvia

G’day! First, beryllium is a metal, not opal. Possibly they are the
opal (and/or fluorite) from the Brush-Wellman beryllium mine in Utah?

Anyhow, if they are slabs, them possibly the odor could be from the
oil in the slab saw; some of the oils are quite smelly and if not
washed off well, they persist. Or it could also be the pesticides you
mention, although if the smell doesn’t wash right off I would doubt
it, unless they were actually soaked in the pesticide.

In either case, since whatever caused the smell is probably oily, or
at least organic, you should be able to wash it off using some of the
orange soap (get it at an auto supply store) that rockhounds usually
use to wash off their slabs after cutting them.

BTW, if the “berylium opal” is what I mentioned above, it may have
small amounts of metallic beryllium in it, and since beryllium
(especially in fine particles, that you could breathe in when cutting
it) is rather poisonous, you need to wear a good mask when you cut


You might like to try coating them with one of the new orange oil
hand cleaner degreaser products. They do a great job on oily rocks
for me. Rose Alene McArthur

    Hello, I purchased some slabs from someone offline. They are
plume agates and BERYLIUM , or common opal. When I got them they are
great slabs, only thing is the guy must have kept them in his shed
with all the bug poisons, or pesticides(sp). 

It’s probably the nasty oil some people use to slab the rocks. It’s
awful, it burns my hands if I get it on me and the smell gives me an
instant headache! If I come across slabs with it I usually soak the
pieces in a strong solution of “GoJo” (orange pumice hand cleaner) or
other citrus grease cutter from automotive stores. I soak the slabs
with hot water and scrub them with the gojo. It works.

Good luck!

Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry