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This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 113 - Fri 2/13/98
2. RE:Treating Bisbee Malachite-Azurite
3. RE: Treating Bisbee Malachite-Azurite
4. RE: Disaster at Tucson
5. NEW: Saw Oil and PCBs - from Rockhounds Mail List


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 113 - Fri 2/13/98

We have been on a short trip, and that this issue.

We will soon publish the list of Lapidary Books, and want
volunteers to do book reviews. Even if you feel that you
can't contribute to most of the lapidary discussion, you can
make a contribution by doing short book reviews. If you want
to do this, send me a note and I will put you on the list.
And you can specify the book you wish to review.

Take care, and HAVE FUN! Spring IS coming!!!


Subject: RE:Treating Bisbee Malachite-Azurite

On Thu, 05 Feb 98 19:34:18 EST, you wrote:

<<I have about 1 kilo of old chatoyant malachite/ azurite
from Bisbee. Am I correct in my assumption that prior to
cutting this material it must be stabilized? Is this a
problem for opticon? Any feedback will be appreciated.>>

I could be wrong here, but I'd rather not expect Opticon to
be a good choice here at all. Seems to me you'd need
something that actually hardens up and stabilizes the whole
mass, since part of what you need to do is to be actually
strengthening the material itself to keep it from crumbling
apart. Opticon may soak in a ways, but since the hardener is
then applied afterwards, only the outer skin is really
"sealed". The rest is only filled in to reduce the visibilty
of inclusions that are filled. Maybe you can modify the way
Opticon is generally used, to mix the hardener throughout,
but I've not heard of it used that way with any great

Peter Rowe

Subject: RE: Treating Bisbee Malachite-Azurite

Please be careful about cutting the Copper Minerals. Powdered
Malachite was/is? used as a pesticide and several cutters, me
included, have had health problems from grinding
Malachite/Azurite stones.

David Friedman

non-commercial republish permission granted

Subject: RE: Disaster at Tucson

Watch for SPECIAL deals on stock from the collapsed tent in
Tucson. If there is something that you want E-MAIL us so that
we can look for it for you. This will be lapidary equipment,
books and some tools that are water damaged / muddy etc.
We'll see what we can do for you.

Thanks BETTY and RUSS
Subject: NEW: Saw Oil and PCBs - from Rockhounds Mail List

The next 15 posts are all from a thread on Rockhounds mail
list which appeared about Feb 1, 1998; they are all reprinted
with permissions from the authors. Interspersed and at the
end are some of my comments on this topic. hale.

I just purchased a 24 inch slab saw. Is there an alternative
to Pella? My reservoir on the saw is very large and deep and
it requires quite a lot of pella. At $35.00 per 5 gallons it
is getting expensive just to fill it. Any suggestions? Can I
use anti freeze? I know I can use diesel fuel but I don't
like the smell. Can I use a combination antifreeze and pella
without damaging the blade?

"tom sorenson" <>

Dear Tom,

Lots of us use bricks or rocks in the unused corners of slab
saw reservoirs. This means you can use less oil or whatever
your cutting medium is.

Cathy (Cathy Gaber)

Antifreeze is definitely NOT recommended, as it is toxic to
humans and animals. I know you aren't planning on drinking
it, but getting some spray floating in the air is
unavoidable. Most of the alternatives to pella have one or
both of two major disadvantages: they are toxic to breathe
and/or they are too flammable. The initial expense for the
proper material may seem high, but it never wears out and
you only have to occassionally replace the small amount lost
in use.

Just my opinion. Even my wife's may vary.

-dan- (Dan Z)
Proprietor, Many Facets Rock Shop
(Ed Note: There are different kinds of antifreeze available.
One is the antifreeze used in the cooling system of auto
engines; another is the antifreeze used in the water tanks
of motorhomes and other recreational vehicles. This latter
type of antifreeze is almost always colored PINK and is just
propylene glycol with some additives to inhibit corrosion. It
does not contain alcohol, and prevents oxidation, corrosion,
and freezing to 50 degrees below zero. Designed to be added
to RV water systems, it is non-toxic. The FDA categorizes
Propolene Glycol as GRAS, or Generally Regarded as Safe.
Thus we need to be careful to describe which type antifreezes
we are talking about.


I have read from previous threads that the RV antifreeze was
OK to use. I have use it and it works OK, but I use full gear
when doing so, goggles, respirator and cover my clothing.
This is the PINK stuff and it's pretty cheap.

Terri Collier <>


Do NOT use anti-freeze in your rock saw. It's toxicity is too
high for that to be safe. Oil alone!

"Mel Albright" <>

Wow, that must be the "special" Pella with the 24kt gold
flakes in it! It's only about $25 for 5 gallons around here.
Actually this topic has been discussed before at length on
this list and about the only reasonable and cheaper
alternative is to use transformer oil. Of course make sure
it's certified PCB-free. I know for a fact that the "safe"
Sierra-type antifreeze costs more per gallon than Pella.

Tim Fisher <>

Hi Tom,

I have used used transformer oil. It works great and even
better if you figure I pay $1.25 per gallon if I bring my own
bucket and $2.00 per gallon if I get their bucket. As for the
PCB warnings this idea will spawn, don't worry about it as
that oil is gone or filtered if you can even find any more of
it around.
Terry Ensell
(Ed. Note: I talked to the former head of Power Transformer
Design for GE about all this, and he said that transformer
oils with PCBs could not be filtered to remove the PCBs to
any satisfactory level. hale)


A serious caution to both sides of the querry- transformer
oil contains usually PCB, which is proved to be carcinogenic.

Earlier I read that someone is asked to pay $35.00 a gallon
for Pella A, - I have bought and I am able obtain (here in
British Columbia, Canada, Pella A for $45.00 for 4.05 Gals.
(i.e., 20 liters. Maybe the distributors misquoted the
company price.

Sorry to butt in but NO TRANSFORMER OIL, PLEASE!!!!!


Joe Bokor

Who makes Pella. I always used Texaco's stuff but now they
don't want to sell to rockhounds. You have to buy 55 gal drum
if you want any.

Mel Albright

Hey Joe,

We are in the late 1990's. PCB's have been virtually
eliminated years ago. When PCB's were determined to be
carcinogenic there was a very intense effort to eliminate
them. As I said before, if you can find them PCB's are very

Terry Ensell & Julene Kanies

Well as Terry said, and you should have noted, and as I said
in an earlier post, there is, theoretically, no transformer
oil containing PCBs in circulation in this country. I don't
know about Canada, but PCB-containing transformer oil has
been illegal to sell or knowingly use in the US at least
since I started to work for Bonneville Power in 1990, and
used oil from transformers is tested, and if it contains PCBs
is filtered to remove the PCBs before it is marketed, and is
certified PCB-free by the dealer. It is a Federal law.

And if you can get it in small quantities, new transformer
oil is in the range of $7.50/gal. Heck, even the Lortone
cutting oil is $16-$19/gallon. So if you're going to pay a
lot for oil, why not use mist-free oil?

Tim Fisher

Hi Mel,

We bought Pella oil in 5 gal. cans from a firm named Laughlin
Oil here in Oregon. The maker is Shell oil and the cost was
about 32.00.

Carolyn Abbey

I believe Shell makes Pella A - In canada it is sold in 20L
plastic buckets, at about $45.00 the bucket. It is called
"Pella A".




You should be able to purchase Almag from any Texaco
distributor for about $24.00 for 5 gallons. If they don't
have that amount it is your distributor who is the problem.

Lester C. Wetherell II

IF you are truly concerned about PCBs, you should shy away
from transformer oil or "recycled" oil, even in the 90's. The
regulatory definitions concerning labeling and management of
PCBs in oil are not entirely black and white - an oil not
subject to PCB managment may contain as much as 5 ppm or 50
ppm (I am unsure which) AND legal methods of PCB oil disposal
are very, very expensive and difficult.

Many an individual or business confronted with the problem of
PCB oil disposal might opt for the "recycling" route, and you
might be the unwitting recipient. AS recently as 3-4 years
ago, a Trenton NJ school purchased recycled oil which ended
up being laden with PCBs. While 5 ppm is a small fraction in
my book, the fact that much oil is voltilized during the rock
cutting process is of concern. Inhalation provides a direct
route of exposure to your systemic organs and chronic
(repeated exposure over time) exposure might be a problem.

If you are concerned and wish to test your oil, there are
fairly inexpensive test kits that can give a fairly accurate
PCB analysis.

Chris French
"chris french" <>
Test kits for assessing the levels of PCBs in oil are made by
Dexsil Corporation of Hamden, CT (Phone 800-433-9745). They
only sell them in packages of 20 individual test kits, and
the cost per individual kit is about $7. A company called
Lab Safety and another company, Fisher Scientific, will sell
the single kits, but at a sharp markup. Possibly your local
power company might sell you a kit. The point is, if you do
want to test transformer oil for PCBs, you do have a way of
doing this.

The use of an oil in rock sawing is really only needed when
you saw hard materials like quartz. For sawing softer rocks,
water is a perfectly acceptable coolant if only cooling is
considered. I use water for most of my sawing, and the only
problem is that I have to pump it out at the end of each work
session and dry it to prevent rust. I do have some Pella for
the hard stuff.

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