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Washing Fluorite

Enough of this lurking, time for me to post again!
After having arrived a day early at the recent AGA shindig in
Chattanooga, I found myself conscripted (along with Kevin von Finger) to
wash enough Seachem Onyx Sand to fill the bottom 3" of a 50g aquarium
for Mr. Amano's clinic, which was to occur 2 days hence.  And his
highness wanted the material washed AND DRIED!  This took several hours,
and involved more than a couple of beers.  As it occurred in a space
where other efforts were also underway, we enjoyed conversation with,
and the company of the lovely and talented Karen Randall and Charlene
Nash, as well as my fellow west coast maffiosos Steve Dixon and Erik
Not surprisingly, washing Fluorite was a lively topic of conversation
that afternoon.  Kevin and I lined a few bread trays with window screen
and rinsed countless gallons of water through the stuff with hoses.
This removed a lot of the smaller grained sand, which we collected and
stored, and forced us to wash even more of the raw material.  We filled
a 2-quart beer pitcher with water and dropped handfuls from each batch
into the column until there was no dust, then spread the mix out in the
sun to dry.
Here's the interesting part.  The general consensus, if memory serves,
is that, as dusty as Fluorite is, the dust is heavy and settles quickly,
making removing anything other than organic dust and wood chips
irrelevant.  No less an authority than Karen herself agreed that this
could be done with just a single quick rinse.  The material should then
be placed into a dry tank, and water added carefully so as not to stir
up the dust.  The point is, Fluorite and Onyx Sand are not coated, and
try as one may, there will always be some dust as the material rubs
against itself.
As always, your mileage may vary.
Michael Rubin ~ San Francisco, mid-50s and sunny 
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