Reply To: Case Miller's Original Post

Homepage Forums Fossil Prep Tips & Tricks Forum Case Miller's Original Post Reply To: Case Miller's Original Post

Joseph Koniecki

I just joined and have been reading about using Quat-O and Rock Quat and thought I would let you know what I have done.
When Larry died and took the Rock Quat formula with him I began work on determining the compostion of Rock Quat and finding a clone or for all I know the actual compound.  I knew Larry was just buying a product and dissolving it in water and packaging in smaller containers.  I know he was getting it in drums.  At the time I was working as an industrial chemist and had access to multi-millions in analytical equipment. A friend and I first analyzed Rock quat and began a search for a product that matched it structure.  We came up with Ethox2605. It came as a thick paste much like Quat-O.  It dissolved in water over time.  I was easier to dissolve in isopropyl alcohol and then into water.  Since I have quite a bit of Rock Quat I never tried it but a friend was looking for some Rock Quat and I gave him some of the Ethox.  He thought it was great and wanted more.  Unfortunately, Ethox 2605 is no longer available.  We did a CAS number search and found another product.  That product is Larostat 264A from BASF.  I have obtained a quart sample from BASF in the US.  I had no problem but I did go through my old company so we never got into the issue of shipping to a private address.  Larostat comes as a thick liquid. I haven’t tried it yet but suspect that it will work.  It is a Quaternary ammonium compound just like Quat-O and Rock Quat.

Now to switch to another cleaning chemical.  I am sure some of you have heard of using KOH to clean fossils.  I have always been skeptical as I never understood the process.  There are however a lot of people that swear by it.  A few months ago I obtained a crinoid from Alabama that if properly cleaned could be very nice.   I have cleaned a lot of fossils and I thought that using micro abrasion on this piece would only ruin the calyx. (the arms were showing and clean).  I could see no safe way of removing the crap covering the calyx.  My friend in Alabama encouraged me to try KOH. I finally gave in. It appears to be working.  It is a VERY long process.  The best I can tell is that the KOH breaks down any micro organics and loosens the particles.  I have been doing it for about 6 months now and have started to see calyx plates.  Six more months and I may see the whole thing.  I do not believe that this technique will work on everything but it appear to work on this piece.
The process requires you to put pieces of KOH on the area you want cleaned. You leave the KOH on there for a few hours (I actually leave it on for several days).  The KOH absorbs water from the air and sort of dissolves over the rock.  After a few day you scrub it off, air dry it and repeat the process.  You can give the process a boost by scribing or air abrading the loosed particles and avoiding the crinoid itself.   It is actually easy to see that something has happened to loosen particles.  Since this requires a lot of washing, it will not work on water sensitive materials.

I am curious if any out there has any experience with using KOH.