Rock collecting can be as simple as finding rocks that are special to you in your backyard. It is called rock-hounding, and it’s how many people get interested in this hobby. You can accomplish that without using any tools.
But when our interest in this activity grows, it is harder and harder to use our hands to find the particular rock or mineral specimen we’re looking for. We can’t just walk outside and pick it up off the ground anymore. Now we have to travel great distances and use various tools and supplies to help us locate our geological treasures.
This article shares a list of tools you want to add to your rock-hounding kit.
A List of the Essential Rockhounding Tools
1. Jewelers Loupe
A hand lens, or magnifier, is an essential tool for any rock collector. It will come in handy when identifying a rock, mineral, or fossil sample.
The hand lens will enable you to observe minute details on crystals, fossils, and other small items. Hand lenses typically have magnification powers, like 7x, 10x, or 20x. A 10x or 20x power should be suitable for beginner rockhounds.
Garrett Romaine wrote the Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook. In his book, he demonstrates how a hand lens can aid in identifying any rock, mineral, or geological specimen.
Rockhounds use hand lenses to see if they are looking at quartz or calcite. They look at the angles of the crystal faces.
Gold panners check black sands for gold and other valuables using hand lenses. They search for minute particles.
Paleontologists utilize hand lenses to search for minute fossil skeletons in limestone and to examine the cell structure of fossilized leaves. Additionally, they use them to study foraminifera, tiny fossils visible to the human eye.
Utilizing hand lenses, meteorite hunters search for fusion crusts, flow lines, and other surface indicators.
2. Rock Hammers
There are numerous varieties of hammers used for rock hunting. You can choose a good hammer for smashing, prying, chipping, or cracking rocks. With that said, you will want to have at least one good rock hammer in your tool kit. This page describes the various types of hammers and their features so that you can choose the appropriate one.
Various Types of Rock Hammers and Their Purposes
Mason’s Hammer/Bricklayer’s Hammer
The Estwing Big Blue is a hammer that both masons and bricklayers use. It has a square head and a chisel end. The handle is cushioned to protect your hand from vibrations.
These hammers are perfect for breaking rocks into small pieces, getting rid of hard soils, and having precision where it is required. They can also be used to split soft rocks and as a chisel.
Characteristics of the Estwing Mason’s or Bricklayer’s Rock Hammer
- Square head
- Chiseled end
- Cushioned handle
- Easily loosens hard soils
- Break rocks into small pieces
- It has excellent control when precision is required.
- Quickly split soft rocks
- It is also usable as a chisel.
The vertical chisel end of a chipping hammer can be used to break rocks into tiles. They also have a pointed tip end which helps get into small spaces. Chipping hammers can deliver precise blows to help you get the job done quickly and easily.
Characteristics Of The Chipping Hammer
- The abrupt end of a chisel is used to make rock tiles.
- It has a pointed tip end.
- cushioned handles to
- Can deliver precise blows to small areas
Geo Pick/ Paleo Pick
A geo or paleo pick is the perfect tool for rock-hounding and prospecting. This hammer has a pointed end and a chisel edge. It is ideal for tearing apart sedimentary rock and digging small holes while kneeling or digging into a cliffside.
The Geo Pick/Paleo Rock Hammer’s Attributes
This instrument’s sharp end chisel edge is ideal for rock-hunting and prospecting.
Excellent for dismantling sedimentary rock and creating small holes.
This hammer is good for breaking down large rocks into smaller rocks. Crack hammers have two flat ends that are polished. They also look like small sledgehammers. You can also use a crack hammer to drive chisels and point ends into rocks.
Features Of The Crack Hammer Rock Hammer
- Great for reducing the size of huge rocks
- Two polished flat ends
- It resembles a little portable sledgehammer.
- Additionally employed for driving chisels and point ends into stones.
A sledgehammer is a long, heavy tool that breaks down large rocks into smaller pieces. It is essential for anyone working on a project with big, hard rocks. Sledgehammers can be difficult for some people, but they are necessary to get the job done.
Characteristics of the Sledge Hammer
- long handle
- A large implement for cracking rock
- Reduce the size of huge rocks to more manageable sizes
- an essential tool when working with big rocks
- It can be challenging to utilize for certain rock collectors.
Cross Peen Hammer
Cross peen hammers have a flat chisel end and a flat hammer face. They are suitable for reducing hand samples and driving chisels. Cross peen hammers usually have a cushioned handle to absorb vibration.
Features Of The Cross Peen Rock Hammer
- The flat hammer face and blunt chisel end are ideal for reducing hand samples and driving chisels. The padded grip protects the user’s hands.
Rock Hammer Features
Pointed Tip: Hammers with a pointed tip can be used to widen crevices, remove veins and cracks, and chip away at fossil concretions.
Chisel Tip: If you want to find fossils, you will need a chisel tip hammer. This type of hammer is suitable for splitting shale and sedimentary rock.
Square Head: Square-headed hammers have a larger surface area to strike the target. It ultimately leads to a more significant force being applied to the sought spot.
Long Handle: Long-handled hammers give you more distance from the area you are hitting. It makes it safer for you. They can also be harder to swing than smaller hammers.
Cushioned Handle: The cushion on the handle of hammers helps to reduce the shock you feel after using them for a long time. Additionally, it prevents your hands from becoming numb.
Leather Handle: The leather handle is more durable than the synthetic material used in handle cushions. Rockhounds prefer the leather handle because it is classic and durable.
Rock Hammer Tip:
Always wear protective eyewear when utilizing rock hammers. You can also think about painting your hammer orange or another bright fluorescent color. It will help you see the tool better and make you less likely to leave it behind.
3. Rock Chisels
When it comes to rock-hounding tools, a set of great rock chisels is also crucial. When it comes to purchasing stone chisels, you have two alternatives.
You should anticipate losing or breaking them if you pay less.
Paying more for higher-quality rock chisels will make breaking rocks considerably simpler.
The carbide-tipped rock chisels are the same size as their less expensive equivalents. The only change is a bit of carbide soldered to the tip, making your job easier and prolonging the edge.
Hand Rock Chisels
A hand rock chisel is a tool shaped like a thin, straight edge. It is used to break rocks by hitting them along a line. However, keep in mind that the force applied by the hammer is spread out over more areas, which results in decreased accuracy of the rock fracture.
Hand Point Chisel
A hand point chisel is tapered at the end into a sharp point. It allows the force of the hammer to be focused on one specific spot. Because of the increased accuracy, you can imagine this would make breaking rocks easier.
4.Rock Screen/ Sifter
A rugged rock screen is a good tool for finding rocks. It will help you find rocks faster and easier. You should get one soon so you can start using it.
Rock screens can be simple and inexpensive. They are available at garage sales and free piles. In his book The Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook, Garrett Romaine states that all types of collectors can benefit from employing a rock screen.
Some people use screens when they are looking for different things. For example, if you are looking for snails that have been replaced by chalcedony, or if you are looking for small rocks on a sandy beach, screens can help. Screens can also help classify material and remove larger rocks and cobbles so that your concentrates (the rocks and dirt with the valuable thing inside) can be cleaned by machines. If you are a meteorite hunter, screens can help you gather fragments of meteorites buried in the sand around an impact site.
5. Blacklights/ Ultraviolet Lamps
Some minerals reflect light in a way that makes them glow under blacklight. It happens because they have a special property called fluorescence, which means the light reflected is of a different wavelength. Ultraviolet or blacklight can be used to see this phenomenon best.
Black lights are a great addition to your geology tool kit because they don’t cost very much. The least expensive black lights use only one wavelength of light. The more costly black lights use both shortwave and longwave ultraviolet light.
Pry bars can be essential tools to have. They can be used for many different things like moving boulders or rocks. There are so many situations where a pry bar may be used that it is difficult to list them all.
If you like to collect rocks, you can clean them with a brush. Some people use a brush to clean out the crevices in rocks if they are looking for gold. Other people might use brushes to wipe away debris and dirt to expose fossils. It is helpful to have a brush or two when collecting rocks. Brushes don’t cost much, so it is worth having them with you.
8. Safety Goggles
When you’re hammering and chipping at rocks, please wear safety goggles. Protecting your eyes is essential because there is nothing worth the price of your vision. Make sure to add this to your tool kit.
DeWalt’s harsh coat and hard-coated lens provide robust protection from scratches.
The DeWalt XtraClear anti-fog lens coating offers a strong protection from fogging.
Soft, dual-injected rubber adapts to the face to give superior dust and debris protection.
Adjustable, elasticized fabric head strap gives a snug fit.
Ventilation channels permit breathability and provide extra fog protection.
The cloth head strap provides a comfortable, easily adjustable fit
A tough, polycarbonate lens provides impact resistance.
When you are rock-hounding, it is essential to protect your hands. Rocks and shards can be very sharp, so you need gloves that protect your hands. These gloves are flexible and won’t snag on rocks, making them perfect for rock-hounding.
10. Sample Bags/ Jars/ Containers
If you plan on picking up things from the ground, you will need containers to put them in. It is essential if what you are looking for is small rocks or mineral samples. Ziploc bags work well for this. Write down what you found on a piece of paper and put it in the bag with the rock sample.
If you are looking for fossils, which can be very fragile, then you might want to take larger plastic containers with lids. It will keep your delicate fossil samples safe and sound. You should also bring towels or tissue paper to provide extra protection.
11. Rock Cleaning Supplies
It can often be done when you get back home. But if you want to clean your mineral or rock sample while you’re out collecting, then make sure to pack a rock cleaning kit in your tool kit for rockhounds.
Different brush types should be included in your cleaning kit to remove dirt and debris (hard and soft). You should also have a dust blower to blow off the dust from the brushes. It is important to use distilled water because some tap waters may contain harmful chemicals interacting with minerals. Distilled water is inexpensive, so it is a good idea to keep a large container in your car and fill a small container you can carry.
Must-Have Items For Your Rockhounding Tool Kit
We rockhounds have access to a wide range of geological equipment. But we won’t be able to bring them all on our next rock collecting expedition. We have created a list of the essential equipment to bring.
- The rockhound kit comes with:
- Chipping Hammer
- 3 Chisels in 3 sizes: 8-inch, 10-inch & 12-inch
- Musette Bag with ample room for tools and rock specimens.
One of the essential tools for rock-hounding is a rock-hounding book. These books contain information, including pictures of rocks, minerals, and fossils. They can also be used as field guides. Rockhounding books are designed to be taken with you when you go out looking for rocks, minerals, and fossils.
The Modern Rockhounding and Prospecting Handbook
This book is a good resource for both novice and seasoned rock hunters. It has been my reference book for a long time. Garret Romaine, an experienced rockhound, provides 264 pages of high-quality information in this book. For 35 years, Garret Romaine has been an avid rockhound, fossil hunter, and gold prospector. He also teaches technical writing at Portland State University and holds a degree in geology.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rockhounding Tools
Colorado is a great place to go rock-hounding. California has a wider variety of minerals, but Colorado has more small and scattered deposits. While some see this as a drawback, others find it intriguing.
California’s best places to find rocks and minerals are San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Crescent City, and Eureka. There are many different areas where you can find rocks and minerals in the state. These include mines, quarries, ocean beaches, and stream beds.
Many people go to a place near their house for their first rock-hounding trip. But some people like to do this activity with other things, like camping or hiking. If you are going on a journey that is more than one day, make sure to see if there are any other possible locations near the area where you will be.
Some lovely onyx specimens have been found north of Trona in several locations off Trona Road and Nadeau Road. There used to be commercial mines in this area, but you can also find onyx in many other places. You might also find agates, jaspers, and other interesting materials in this region.