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Hand Book of Qualitative Chemical Analysis - (An Acrobat 5.5MB PDF File)
by Robert C. Kedzie, A.M., M.D., 4th ed., 1890

Although this book begins with the Blow Pipe scheme of analyzing rocks it also has excellent information (beginning on page 32) about hydrometallurgical means to identify a wide variety of metals, that can also be used for conducting microchems.

Prior to explaining the purpose of this adventure it should be noted that the term “microchems” is a somewhat fictional word. Despite that it is not found in dictionaries it nevertheless mentally conveys the gist of conducting chemical investigations on tiny rocks under the magnifying lens.

The concept of – if a little bit is good then a whole lot more must be better is the anti-thesis of microchems. In fact, if this fabricated word is broken apart it simultaneously shouts miniature exactness. Thus, instead of using large volumes of chemicals to react (digest, separate and/or liberate) with bulky quantities of pulverized rock, such as the typical 1 Assay Ton (29.16 grams) microchems are conducted on rocks/metals the size of grain of wheat or mustard seed. Thus, the microchem advantage is a relatively quick, direct, distinct and informative observation unavailable by any other means. Of course the alternative to this type of testing is conventional expensive laboratory procedures, which usually eliminate the individual prospector.

I suspect that most prospectors have come to the realization that searching for a mineral deposit is the association of identifying differences between visible known’s and the hidden, obscure or disguised litany of indefinites.

Micochems are just another tool the prospector can utilize in the quest of understanding. In addition, when microchems are performed in conjunction with blowpipe tests a great deal of valuable information can be achieved, which will help in determining how best to proceed in the classification of a prospect. Essentially, by utilizing this reasonably easy and inexpensive test procedure the prospector is not required to be skilled in chemistry, geology, metallurgy or petrology, but these academic skills would certainly make the prospectors life easier.

Clues are what’s prospectors seek. So, it behooves the mineral explorer to discover as many clues as practical in order to identify a mineral or metal that might lead to a viable deposit. Therefore, learning how to recognize metals within minerals and at same time reducing labor sensitive time consumption and abundant frustrations microchems are a blessings dunder-heads like me can use.

Danger is a prospectors constant companion, but most prospectors are aware they are risk takers or they would not seek-out the mysteries rocks contain. Therefore, it is assumed and recognized that I am not responsible for the actions or consequences of anyone doing chemical testing. Now, with this disclaimer behind me – perhaps what is presented herein will be an aid in pursuing the mineral Kingdom’s vast remaining treasures?

To pursue this rather simple testing procedure there are naturally expenses involved, such as a microscope, glass slides, chemicals, pipettes and toothpicks. Of course a prospector can continue to rely on others to do the preliminary tests, but I find this type of practice an unsatisfactory solution in solving mysteries.

The illustrated microchem provided herein primarily relate to minerals/metals that are commonly associated with silver and no immediate attempt will be made to post the infinite number of metal/mineral combinations.

Antimony (Sb), Arsenic (As), Bismuth (BI), Cadmium (Cd), Copper (Cu), Gold (Au), Indium (In), Iodine (I), Iridium (Ir), Iron (Fe), Lead (Pb), Manganese (Mn), Mercury (Hg), Nickel (Ni), Osmium (Os), Palladium (Pd), Platinum (Pt), Rhenium (Re), Rhodium (Rh), Ruthenium (Ru), Selenium (Se), Silver (Ag), Tellurium (Te), Thallium (Tl), Tin (Sn), Vanadium (V), Zinc (Zn).

Au + Hg Amalgamation