Rock Prep/Sterilizing - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Hi all,

I found a good piece of granite that I want to use in my tank, but how do I go about prepping/sterilizing it? I realize boiling is an option, but I'm a bit skeptical of boiling rocks.

Here's the rock. Pretty sure it's graniteÖÖI guess it's also worth mentioning that I did the vinegar test on it and there were no bubbles. I used a nail to scratch into the rock a bit and there were no bubbles, so it should be safe.
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Last edited by Darkblade48; 01-24-2015 at 01:34 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 09:07 PM
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Nothing wrong with boiling rocks.

That's a myth born from overly concerned folks passing on info they don't quite understand, but mean well.

Rocks only explode if they are wet, and then are heated well beyond boiling temp - like a soaking wet rock thrown into a fire (and this is only some rocks, it's perfectly safe to do it with something like granite, because granite won't really absorb water like sandstone or something might), the water expands into steam, and the pressure increase fractures the rock, sometimes violently. Water->Steam involves something over a 1000 fold pressure/volume increase, whereas room temp gas->boiling gas only involves about a doubling of pressure/volume.

I'd give the rock a good scrubbing with a decent stiff-bristeled brush to remove any dirt/etc. If you are overly concerned about introducing something alive, then give it a bleach soak or boil it.

ETA: it looks like there is some striation in the rock, so possibly more of a gneiss? (still safe to boil...)

Last edited by lochaber; 01-23-2015 at 09:07 PM. Reason: looked closer at pic...
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome. Thanks for the reply.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 09:16 PM
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I prefer Hydrogen peroxide and sunlight to dry... nothing left on the rock after that cleaning! including the cleaner

Air pockets in rocks are rare, but I wouldn't risk have a pressurized rock crack in my kitchen..

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 09:43 PM
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And for yet another way to go, I like to do a simple bleach soak. I find it much easier to find an item large enough to hold the rocks or wood than it is to find a pot big enough.

Using cheap bleach that has no color or scent added, fill a tub, add a 1/2cup or so of bleach and let it set. I normally do an overnight but after 5-6 hours it doesn't matter much. whenever you get back to the project?

It will be slick so I start with a rinse and then let it set out to dry. There are those fear bleach but never think about how it works. Chlorine is what you smell when you go around a pool or spa and sometimes when we drink from a glass. That is because the chlorine is gassing off and blowing away. So if the chlorine is blowing away in those cases, it will also blow away from the rocks. When you can't smell it any longer, the chlorine is gone and the rocks are ready to use. Others prefer to do it quicker and use the dechlor we use for normal chlorine in water but I find I have the time and save the dechlor.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 11:54 PM
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Bleach, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide (DO NOT MIX)
will all evaporate or break down to harmless chemicals.

But do you need any of them?
I doubt it. If a rock is dry, there are not a lot of under water parasites or diseases going to survive. (now, if you just got it out of a fresh water source- lake, river... and hurried it home and it was still damp...)

I just scrub off most of the dirt, give it a quick rinse and use it. Nothing fancy!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Bleach, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide (DO NOT MIX)
will all evaporate or break down to harmless chemicals.

But do you need any of them?
I doubt it. If a rock is dry, there are not a lot of under water parasites or diseases going to survive. (now, if you just got it out of a fresh water source- lake, river... and hurried it home and it was still damp...)

I just scrub off most of the dirt, give it a quick rinse and use it. Nothing fancy!
I would go with this but there is one other item that we may want to make sure of. Not that it is there, but just on the basic "why take chances" idea that the poster asks about.
We don't know where things have been when we pick them up, whether it is from the roadside or the shelf at a store. On the roadside, they may have been sprayed with weedkiller. In the store the guy that treats the store for bugs may not care how much insecticide he gets on the rocks! It's just a rock!

If you picked it up out in the wilds of Alaska or a riverbank in Ohio, do we know that it has not been swimming in the oil dumped out of a ship or a chemical spill?
I like to keep a tight control of the things I put in my tank as I find there are plenty of other things that easily slip out of control.
Considering how little effort and expense it takes to do a good cleaning, I don't take chances on things that could wipe out all my other efforts.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lochaber View Post
Nothing wrong with boiling rocks.

That's a myth born from overly concerned folks passing on info they don't quite understand, but mean well.

Rocks only explode if they are wet, and then are heated well beyond boiling temp - like a soaking wet rock thrown into a fire (and this is only some rocks, it's perfectly safe to do it with something like granite, because granite won't really absorb water like sandstone or something might), the water expands into steam, and the pressure increase fractures the rock, sometimes violently. Water->Steam involves something over a 1000 fold pressure/volume increase, whereas room temp gas->boiling gas only involves about a doubling of pressure/volume.

I'd give the rock a good scrubbing with a decent stiff-bristeled brush to remove any dirt/etc. If you are overly concerned about introducing something alive, then give it a bleach soak or boil it.

ETA: it looks like there is some striation in the rock, so possibly more of a gneiss? (still safe to boil...)
Agreed. Case in point: stone fireplaces. Been used forever, how many times have you heard of the rocks exploding?

Water can be trapped within rocks but it's very rare. I've personally seen quartz crystal points with water trapped inside them. I've had one rock explode on me. I used a 4'x4', 3" thick piece of blue stone (like field stone) for the base of an outdoor fireplace. Man when that sucker went it was like a half stick going off. Blew the fire everywhere, shattered the slab into 5 pieces. Scared me half to death! Way different than a chunk of granite though. I think this was more an expansion crack exactly like ice on a lake does vs actually exploding.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
We don't know where things have been when we pick them up, whether it is from the roadside or the shelf at a store. On the roadside, they may have been sprayed with weedkiller. In the store the guy that treats the store for bugs may not care how much insecticide he gets on the rocks! It's just a rock!

If you picked it up out in the wilds of Alaska or a riverbank in Ohio, do we know that it has not been swimming in the oil dumped out of a ship or a chemical spill?
Not trying to be argumentative here, and it certainly won't hurt to clean it better by bleaching, etc...but, I doubt bleach does much for removing oil, or neutralizing pesticides and herbicides.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 08:49 PM
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Good point. Petroleum, pesticide and other toxins are indeed all around us, and better cleaning is a good idea.
So scrub it with your choice of stuff, including dish soap, Simple Green or anything mentioned so far. Or do a combined treatment- treat with something, rinse really well, then treat with something else, to whatever level will make you feel you have minimized the possible dangers.
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