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Although I have known about this ancient art for many years, I shied away from embracing it, because it was an archaic form of analysis, which I incorrectly felt was obsolete and of dubious value.

Early on in my mineral quest I felt that traditional wet and dry assaying techniques, coupled with modern instrument analysis were the only keys for achieving awareness as to what my rocks contained. But, instead of absolute answers came bundled questions riddled with abundant confusion.

For what its worth – assaying an endless supply of rocks is costly and unless the prospector comprehends the arts of mineral analysis and can duplicate the numbers on countless pieces of paper their value is questionable. Therefore, it behooves all who wander these fields of dreams to get prepared, not with the badge of courage but with the armor of knowledge, because prospecting is at least 90% homework. In other words – work smarter not harder.

There are no secrets in assaying except what ignorance allows. So, being prepared is a major step in the right direction of avoiding the plentiful pitfalls begging recognition. It’s fine to utilize state of the art techniques, but in general it makes far more sense to find ways to assure survival on this rough road where precarious cliffs and boulders cause many to stumble or financially perish long before any discoveries are made.

Therefore, perhaps before traveling the mystifying corridors of analytical establishments a careful examination of this http://mines.az.gov/Info/BLMassaylabsreport.pdf report will aid in the prevention of misallocating precious time and that hard to locate resource called money.

Believe it or not prospecting is not about the end game, but is primarily concerning the beginning of a great chase. Most prospectors don’t want to take the time to learn the preliminaries, preferring to dash headlong into this arena strewn with the shattered remains of broken hopes. Nevertheless, perhaps a few who read this will comprehend the necessity of making this prospecting trail of trials as fruitful as possible and avoid compounding ignorance and costly mistakes with unproductive rocks by utilizing this almost lost art of blow-piping.

Because, to my knowledge no one has yet posted on the web anything visually tangible about blow-piping – maybe some of the below info will provide visual grips as how to use this abandoned art of identifying potential ore. Then, when the prospector is reasonably sure that the rocks in question meet certain standards traditional assaying methodologies can be utilized to maximize the all previous efforts.


A System of Instruction in the Practical Use of the Blowpipe - (1858)

Duke's 2 Volume Short Course in Prospecting and Mineral Identification.

The serious prospector who decides to investigate this method of semi-qualitative analysis might want to also locate and purchase these books: Mineralogy, Crystallography and Blowpipe Analysis by Moses & Parsons (1900)
Manual of Determinative Mineralogy with an introduction on Blow-Pipe Analysis by George J. Brush (1890)
Handbook of Mineralogy, Blowpipe Analysis and Geometrical Crystallography by G. Montague Butler (1918)

I have found each of these books to contain indispensable data regarding identifying sublimates produced by the blowpipe.


Plaster of Paris and Charcoal Tablets

Metal Sublimates

Mineral Sublimates

Open and Closed Test Tubes