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Tested my suspect"iron"

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So, thanks to Johno and Kat I recieved my stuff to make the testing agent for nickel in meteorites.

But, let me start at the beginning...

Several years back while nugget hunting somewhere around Barstow I found this little 2 gram piece...(My first and second mistakes, I didn't gps the spot and I didn't photograph the find.)

I have saved it and waited hoping it would grow into a real iron meteorite, which would have satisfied two desires; to find an unknown fall and to find an iron meteorite. At one of the early GB Outings I showed it to Paleface and he encouraged me to get it checked...but, not being a Big Name meteorite hunter I have no one to do that...(My third mistake was not having an expert check it asap.) And then, along comes Norton's Field Guide with directions for testing for nickel. First I searched for ammonia...plain, untreated ammonia is not so easy to find but I did. Next and meanwhile I searched for 99% alcohol...which is not readily available either...I finally went to a medical supply store and they had plenty...during all of those searchs I tried to order that powder but it is a controlled substance and the web-store will not ship to a wild and dangerous citizen such as I...that is where J and K helped...thanks again.

Now to the test; I chose the total immersion test in white vinegar...poured in an equal amount of ammonia then a few drops of the secret stuff...a very faint reaction, but is it pink???I can't be sure because I have alternative color vision...yes, to you politically incorrect folks that means color-blind, not totally just to red/green stuff sometimes...

So, I wait until my Lovely and unfettered wife comes home and repeat the test..........yes, she "thinks" the solution turned pink...darn...I want bright Pink...but no not for me.

So, I leave the suspect in the V for a long time...the solution gets rusty looking, pour in the A and then the Stuff...too much rust...( my 4th mistake my "iron" got all rusty from the V and it don't look the same anymore.)

So, after all this here is some of what I learned...learn and follow correct collecting protocol if you want to play in this game...and I still don't know if I have an iron or a piece of ???




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Hi Freddy

Dr David Kring at the U of A originally told us those chemical tests were pretty much worthless. Since almost all iron has traces (a few parts per million) of nickel. Apparently seperating iron and nickle 100% is somewhat difficult so even most man made trash contains some nickel. My friend Jim kreigh was working on a way of testing using the chemical and timing the residual color after the test to determine the apx amount of nickel it contained. He was reasonably certain he could use this system to guess the percentage of nickel contained. Unfortunaly I or anyone else knows what exactly he was doing and I would think it would vary on purity and strenght of the solution. With small pieces asseyors will consume the majority of the piece in proper testing. the good thing about them is that at least you'll know wether or not it possibly is meteoric. Happy Huntin John B

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Hi Mr B...thanks for the reply.

I thought there would be more interest in this process and learning from my trials but I quess not.

I suppose that few people find pieces that are not easily eliminated as possible Irons...

I know I have found plenty of iron that after close examination could be eliminated...

The procedure I used is in Norton's book and I carefully followed the directions. next time I get in the mood I will test an object of known nickel content to observe the reaction...I am confident that Norton would not publish a bogus test. However my methods may be faulty...

I see you are speaking at the Azo Outing I will be serving Chili on Friday night...probably out of my truck since my buddy's motorhome has broke...I hope you will be there, spoon in hand.


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don't buy the nickel allergy test that's for sure. that stuff didn't work on some of my known meteorites. something to do with the oxides that cause it to rust giving it a false negative.

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Guest bedrock bob

Coming from a point of very little meteorite experience but a wealth of prospecting...

Could an assayer not do ICP, GC, MS, or AA with a very small specimen (the filings from the "window") and tell the nickel content EXACTLY?

I used Skyline labs in Tucson in the past and they were very good. Quick turn around and realatively inexpensive. It sems that most metallurgy labs could perform this test with no mystery. I have mine done with GC/MS and it takes all of about fifteen minutes to get exact results.

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Mr B...you have shattered my faith in his book...oh, oh...I feel so bad...

BB, it is such a tiny piece that paying for a assay would be painful to my penny-pinching ways...but, you are correct I could have done that for a price...anyway, it is mostly my vanity and pride that cares, as the "iron" is too small to interest anyone else. Now that I have ruined its original appearance I quess using it up for the assay would not be a big deal....

next time I will know better


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  • 1 month later...

Hi guys, it was pointed out to me by Johnno that this thread was started here, so I thought I'd put in my two cents. I don't have a lot of experience with testing for nickel but the Norton test seems to work for me. You can check the details here: http://www.meteoritejunction.com/viewtopic...?f=10&t=185


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