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I think this is a rock? Not sure what it is.


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Hi again everyone

This one from my brothers collection is a real mystery to me, I always thought it was a shard of unglazed pottery, but now that I get my hands on it I think it may be an unusually shaped rock with some odd characteristics. 

It is grey and smooth like any typical sedimentary rock on the surface, clay like, but it has layers of fine fibers in an almost plywood like structure inside. It is very light weight for its size and I was able to peel a piece off to put under my microscope. It felt like peeling a bit of cheap fiberboard apart. But the fibers are clear glassy crystal like structures with a soft crumbly grey to grayish brown mineral in between the crystals.

Unless this is some kind of clay with strands of glass?? Or fiberglass?? mixed in? If so I'll have to head over to the treasure and relics forum and ask why on earth someone would make such a thing :89:

Here are the photos 

 

 

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Edited by Suzanne
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Sure looks like the lip of a pot/jar to me.  It could be a pottery shard, where the pot was made with mineral fibers (actinolite, tremolite serpentine) in addition to clay to make it heat resistant.

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I think I will measure the curve and try to figure out how big it would have been if it is a part of a lid or something. Maybe it could have been some sort of collar around a chimney for heat protection? Although it shows no sign of heat or smoke on it.

I'm guessing my brother found this one on one of his field walks looking for arrowheads after the farmers would plow.

I also read that asbestos used to be put in modeling clay to make the finished piece stronger, gotta love the arts and crafts that can kill you :rolleyes:

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I' so glad the Bob used the "A" word.  I alluded to "A-tos" minerals but did not want to use the "A" word and have folks freaking out  :yikes: ; like my roommate back in college when he learned that the pretty green fibrous mineral (Chrysotile) on my bookshelf, with the other rocks, was an "asbestos".  It was in a clear zip lock baggy by the way; still is.   :miner:

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4 hours ago, Suzanne said:

I think I will measure the curve and try to figure out how big it would have been if it is a part of a lid or something. Maybe it could have been some sort of collar around a chimney for heat protection? Although it shows no sign of heat or smoke on it.

I'm guessing my brother found this one on one of his field walks looking for arrowheads after the farmers would plow.

I also read that asbestos used to be put in modeling clay to make the finished piece stronger, gotta love the arts and crafts that can kill you :rolleyes:

Asbestos is an inhalation hazard. As long as none gets in the air it is relatively safe. Asbestos that is crumbly and losing its binder is said to be "friable" and is dangerous. Very tiny fibers are released that cant be filtered out with a simple dust mask. Your piece is definitely friable and is a hazard, but it is not a huge deal. It is just a piece of transite. 

We still use asbestos today. It is only regulated in certain building materials. It is completely unregulated in many other products. Big sewer and water pipes are still made of transite. That is what your piece is. Cementatious transite. It was probably a transite panel used to build a barn or a piece of a water pipe.

Asbestos is used to fortify all kinds of resins. Lots of composite materials that are imported contain asbestos. Many chalkboards are asbestos. Paper, Drywall, plaster and concrete castings. So don't be fooled into thinking it was banned and everything is safe. Lots of asbestos is still in place and other products are still being imported that contain asbestos. If it isn't wood, metal or plastic you should never cut or grind a material unless you know it dos not contain asbestos. Composite materials are always suspect.

What you have there is nothing of value. And it is losing its binder and has been broken. We can see the exposed fibers in the photos. You have already peeled it apart and exposed fresh surfaces. It would be best to wrap it in plastic and get rid of it. If for some reason you want to keep it or handle it I would suggest painting it with polyurethane or at least spraying it with hair spray really heavy. You don't want to release fibers and you need to seal the surface.

And don't handle it inside. Asbestos fibers take 3 days to settle in still air and they NEVER settle in circulating air. Any fibers that get in your home are always being kicked up until you eventually breathe them in. It is kinda like schite on a rope...it just keeps spreading around. And a vacuum cleaner just makes it worse unless you use a HEPA.

We have all breathed enough of that stuff already from automobile brakes and demolition dust. Asbestos is everywhere in our environment especially in cities. It is cumulative and invisible just like radiation. You need to stay as far away from any known source that you can. So don't handle that piece unless you just have to. And if you simply have to play with it seal it up with something sticky so no more of those insidious little fibers are released.

 

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Hi all,

Thanks everyone for the info. On further researching Cementatious Transite I think it was most likely a part of the end collar of a sewer or water main pipe, given similarly shaped examples in photos and the overall size that this piece would likely have been. (Don't worry I did not end up measuring it).

I appreciate the advice to properly dispose of this item as it contains asbestos that is no longer solidly bound together and is most certainly friable as described. That is part of my reasons for wanting to identify these items so I can decide what to do with them. Kind of like researching the materials in an old house before starting demolition is always a good idea...

My brother probably always assumed they were all older items but didn't consider that many of the places he would collect from have had many generations of agricultural use, no doubt containing forgotten disposal heaps that get plowed up when fields are expanded.

Thanks again 

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