Have you ever wondered where your crystals come from? Crystal and mineral collection is hardly a new concept, but today it stands to rival gold panning and metal detecting as the healthiest hobby in town. The human fascination with gemstones and precious metals goes back as far as the dawn of time. Nevertheless, it’s only recently that we humans have learned how to make a fun family day out of it.
Why Hunt for Crystals? The Background
We have mined crystals, minerals, rocks, and precious gems and stones since early humans first set eyes on them. Whether the allure came from the dazzling shine and sparkle of a quartz drusy or the dense, hard-wearing properties of diamonds – we have always loved, coveted, and collected, gemstones as jewels. Some of the earliest crystal mines in the world date back to 4000 BC. The discovery of precious metals goes back even farther, with copper first emerging in 9000BC, and the Iron Age literally named after the predominant metal in use at that time.
Crystals are a true treasure. They are unique variations of the perfection of the universe, condensed down into beautiful little bubbles formed from mineralization in slow cooling lavas.
So how do you hunt them? Let’s talk about how crystal hunting could be the activity that keeps you and your family fit this season.
Crystal Hunting Questions Answered
Let’s start with the basics: where do you find crystals? We consulted with the Scottish rockhounding experts at The Stone Circle to find out. Here’s what they had to say.
Where do you look for crystals?
Hunt for crystals in rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. You shouldn’t remove material from the coastline, but lakes, lochs, and burns are all common fodder. You find crystals in high places, where the mountains and hills erupt. When you look at the mountains and you see rocks tumbling down the hillside, that’s the kind of place you need to go to crystal hunt. Hill and mountain paths and old, disused quarries are also top tips.
Does crystal hunting keep you fit?
Crystal hunting is 9 parts looking for new locations and one part physically hunting. This means you walk everywhere looking for new places to scour for fine minerals. One day you could climb your local hill and find there’s nothing on it. Another day you could splash around in a local river and find two things. The first is that you have fantastic fun. The second is that you might pick up a piece of quartz or calcite, or a fossil. You never know if an area will be mineral-bearing until you go and look. Estimates class rockhounding as the same heavy yard work. This can burn up to 600 calories an hour.
Do you need a license to hunt for crystals?
Here in Scotland all of the precious gems belong to the queen. However, the crown will only claim the most precious finds and even then, it is rare. If you find something expensive here, you have to report it to the treasury. Similarly, you shouldn’t remove material from people’s land without permission. In the US there are areas where rockhounding – which is what they call crystal hunting – is the primary pastime. You can find the nearest areas to you on Google and you can visit as often as you like. Otherwise, seek permission from the landowner before you remove minerals.
Can you take the kids looking for gemstones?
Yes, you can. Be wary of where you take them. For example, taking kids to an old mine or defunct quarry isn’t a terribly safe idea. On the other hand, splashing around in the local stream looking for chalcedony pebbles, or brushing sand in the desert to find gypsum are great activities for children. You can even find a jewelry maker to add your own gemstones to jewelry. You can read more about which stones are safe to wear every day on our previous blog.
Do you have to dig for gemstones?
This depends on where you go. Some areas have cave systems formed by old mines that create calcite and quartz formations over time. If the miners brought any of this material to the surface, then you won’t have to dig. You don’t dig in waterways and often the mountains produce gem-filled scree. However, the truly fantastic minerals come from underground deposits. A great example of this is opal. You will only find it underground and you will have to dig for it. You may find trace amounts in streams, but it won’t be like what you see on TV.
Crystal Hunting Equipment – What Do You Need?
Now that we have covered where to go, let’s talk about the equipment you might need when you get there. We put together a rockhounding checklist so that you can pack accordingly.
- Water – bring water to drink and water in a spray bottle. When trying to identify crystals, spraying them with water helps.
- First Aid Kit – keep it nearby. Rocks might be sharp or you could fall over. It is best to be prepared.
- Mobile phone – keep your phone fully charged. We rockhound in the middle of nowhere and if you get into trouble, you need a way out.
- Food and snacks
- A bag or bucket to collect your rocks in
- Sun cream
- Toys or games for the kids
- A shovel or trowel for digging
- A waterproof layer in case of bad weather
- Expert Level – a rock classifier can help you to scoop rocks out of a river or hole into one space where you can easily view them.
- Expert Level – take a gold pan along with you. They are ergonomically designed so that the colors in the pan show up better. This can be a useful tool for hunting small crystals and even for finding gold.
- Expert Level – sometimes a shovel won’t do the trick and you need a hammer and chisel.
Since much of rock hunting takes place out in the wilderness, you should always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be home. Your own transportation is also of huge benefit.
Crystal Hunting Safety Tips
Before you rush off into the wilderness with three children and a dog in tow, consider risk assessing the location, first. Make sure you have your first aid kit and plenty of water, and also that people know where you are. You shouldn’t hunt for rocks in remote areas by yourself, but if you must go alone, take a fully charged mobile phone. You may also consider things like a pen knife, camping equipment, and extra layers when required. Check weather reports for mountains and tide times before you go.
A Note on Rockhounding Etiquette
There are rules on rockhounding so that nobody steps on anyone else’s toes. If you show up to an area and someone is working it, it’s common courtesy to let them finish. Find another area or wait until they are gone before you begin looking. There is nothing worse than someone coming along behind you, forcing you to speed up an otherwise relaxing process. Crystal hunting is mindful, so be mindful of yourself when you are out there. Believe us when we tell you that there are enough rocks for us all.
Are you Ready to Rock (Hound)?
If this article has tickled your fancy, then why not take the family on their first rockhounding adventure? It’s just like a real-life treasure hunt. The crystals are out there. All you need to do is find them and bring them home.