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PRO Tips for Beginner & Experienced Rockhounds + Safety Tips

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If you are a beginner but also an advanced one in rockhounding, it will definitely come in handy to know various tips and improvements for this hobby. It is always good to learn something new.

The most important tip for rockhounding is to stay safe, you and everyone around you. Then you should know the place where you go to search for the rocks and find out if you need permission for rockhounding. Also, don’t forget to use sufficient equipment and let someone know where you go rockhounding.

In this article I will give more detailed tips for rockhounding so take a seat and continue reading, I hope you will find all these tips interesting.

PRO Tips for Rockhounding
PRO Tips for Rockhounding

If you are interested in checking out the best equipment for rockhounding you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).

Tips You Should Remember When Rockhounding

Rockhounding can switch from a wonderful pastime to a hazardous workplace quickly. Your ability to stay safe rests on the fact that you should take your time when excavating and understand the tools you are using to rockhound.

While these tips may not cover every tip to ensure your safety during rockhounding, they will hopefully inspire you to make rules of your own to abide by.

Perhaps you want to make a rule for yourself to return home when the sunlight starts to leave you? Either way, these tips should help you to make the best choices out in the field that you can.

  1. Know Your Route

Always know where you are. Along with knowing where you are, try to research what type of harmful plants or wild animals are in the area.

You want to be aware of every aspect of your route as much as you can. This allows you to plan and pack better.

  1. Understand Your Mission

Do you know what type of minerals you are looking for or do you just want to explore as you walk? Figure out how you want to take advantage of your time rockhounding as this puts you in the correct mind frame to do so.

  1. Proper Checklist

If you feel like you have a tendency to forget a few things, write a list of the tools you need. If you are trailing off to look for a special stone, you may need different tools than you are used to. With a checklist, nothing is lost or forgotten.

  1. Appropriate Clothing

The right clothing you wear will make your time rockhounding that much better. Wearing sandals while walking a trail or along a stream will not make you a happy camper. Put on a shirt that has breathable materials and gloves that protect your hands.

  1. Have a Technique

When you are excavating these minerals, you want to make sure you are putting in the right amount of strength and delicacy.

You do not want to strike a stone too hard and burst it unintentionally. Be precise in how you strike with the tools you use for different needs.

  1. Protect Your Eyes

Wear your goggles no matter how soft your stone is. Any bits that you shatter as you are hammering away can potentially become caught in your eyes.

  1. Protect Your Tools

We can start to become carried away when we discover something. Maybe there is a sturdier rock on top of the one you are trying to retrieve? Do not use the tools unlike how they were intended to be used. You could damage them faster and hurt yourself.

  1. Watch Out Above

If you find yourself in an area that has rocks or stones falling or just sitting above you, so be mindful. Try to bring a helmet if you think a hard object will come crashing down on your head.

If you have children, be sure that they are protected just as you are. Stress to them the importance of taking your lead and listening to instructions you say to them. Instruct them on how to handle the tools to avoid any unnecessary mistakes.

Rockhounding is a pastime that many enjoy either by themselves or with a group. Join a rockhounding group as this brings you into a large connection with others who understand your love of geology. Not to mention, should anything happen to you, those in your group would be there to help you.

TIP: Learn kids about rockhounding when they are young, they will find this hobby really interesting and mysterious at the same time. I wrote an article about how to get started with rockhounding for kids:
Rock Collecting for Kids: How to Get Them Started

Rockhounding for Beginners

Rockhounding tips for beginners
Rockhounding Tips for Beginners

If you are just starting out with this hobby, the information above can be quite overwhelming. The good thing is, if you are a beginner, you can often find a seasoned roc hunter to tag along with a learn tips or tricks to help you along the way.

However, there are some recommendations to follow if you are new at rockhounding. These recommendations will allow you to learn, have fun, and be at minimal risk of dangerous situations.

  • Never go rockhounding alone. It’s recommended to go with someone more knowledgeable than you, so you have a teacher and a leader.
  • Don’t try diving into the deepest caves, or riskiest cliffs. Stick to basic, beginner areas to start off with so you can learn with minimal risks.
  • Do your research. You don’t want to go blindly searching for any rocks, because you may never find anything. You want to know the area you are going to, as well as the materials you may find there.
  • Do not bother with radioactive materials until you are seasoned. This can cause major health issues if you are not aware of what you are doing.
  • Only take what you can reasonably use. This allows others to enjoy the area without it being void of materials.
  • If you choose to travel, stop in the nearest town and ask around so you know what you are getting into. Be as prepared as possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask those “silly” questions. When it comes to safety, no question is silly if it keeps you alive and not harmed.

BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

Make Your Rockhounding Easier

Now, if you are new to rockhounding and you are still trying to learn specimen identification, there are a few guides for you that include:

  • Mineral Field Guides:

Guides like these allow you to see the different stones and fossils that are located in the area. You can then decide if you want to search the area for a certain mineral.

  • Magnifying Glass:

Purchasing a magnifying glass will help you to examine your minerals much more closely. This is a nice tool to have with you on the field or at your desk.

  • Maps:

Maps can be used alongside field guides as maps may lend you a more detailed view of the area. Again, this is another great tool that will work in case your other devices do not work well offline.

  • Camera Of Any Kind:

You may want to take photos of the location you are in or of the minerals and stones collected. This is the perfect way to document your collections and it can also help you find your way through the field.

  • Magnet:

Used for small metal fragments or minerals like gold or silver. You can use a heavy-duty magnet or a small magnet, either one is fine.

  • UV Lamp:

Take any minerals that are fluorescent and use this lamp. This light will let you see every fluorescent lining of the mineral.

  • Moh’s Hardness Scale:

This scale determines how hard or delicate your rock and mineral are supposed to be. You can just use this as a guide and not as an absolute scale.

  • Streak Plate:

You can have the help of this streaking plate to identify the colors and eventually the type of stone you have. You can then rub the stone on the streak plate and the color will rub off on it.

Picking and choosing these smaller tools can help make your time rockhounding easier. Tools like the magnifying glass can open your world to what is inside the mineral or fossil.

So, pick and choose which tools you would like to bring on the field with you and which tools you would like to keep at your place of examination.

TIP: Learn more about the recommended equipment for rockhounding. I reviewed all the necessary equipment for rockhounding in these articles:
Recommended Rock Hammers, Picks, Chisels & Bars For Rockhounding
Best Shovels, Brushes, Sample Bags & More for Rockhounding
Recommended Dichroscopes, Hand Lens, and UV Lamps for Rockhounding

Safety Tips while Rockhounding

Safety Tips while Rockhounding
Safety Tips while Rockhounding

While you are collecting your rocks and exploring new areas to discover, there are a few things to keep in mind that can help keep you safe and secure.

Rockhounding is fun, but you can enjoy it much more if you take precautions to keep yourself out of situations that may be harmful or dangerous.

Most people never have an injury or situation that is large enough to be considered emergent, but those people also follow these tips.

  1. Make Sure You Have Permission

Make sure you have permission to be on the land you are on. If you don’t know who’s land it is, it’s probably safe to assume you need to ask. This will avoid anyone believing you have ill intent on their property or having you arrested.

  1. Give Someone your Location

Always tell someone where you are going. If someone has your coordinates or your approximate location, you can be found quickly in an emergency, or if you were injured. If your location changes, always update your contacts, even if you are only moving for a moment.

  1. Be Wary of Caves

Don’t go into caves, mine shafts, or locations that look like they haven’t been taken care of. Some older areas can cave in when you start hitting rocks, causing you to be trapped. Unless caves are marked or advertised as safe, don’t risk it.

  1. Don’t Explore Too Much

Only explore close to where you are supposed to be. Exploring is great, but if you get hurt and you have moved away from your expected location, you will be harder to find if you go missing.

The golden rule is If you get lost, stay put. It is much easier to find someone who is not moving around.

  1. Be Aware of your Surroundings

Pay attention to what is above you and below you. Don’t work under overhangs, because nothing is holding that rock from tumbling down on you, and oftentimes, the floors in caves are not even or very thick.

When you are walking through caves, you don’t want to fall into holes or trip over uneven places. Simply paying attention to where you are stepping can save you from a broken bone or a fall.

  1. Pay Attention to your Body

While caves are usually cooler than the outside temperature, you still run the risk of becoming dehydrated, even in a cave. If you are working out in the heat, pay attention to your body and beware of heatstroke. Even if you are in shade, heatstroke, and dehydration are still possible.

  1. Follow the Rockhounding Code of Ethics

The United States Government put together a list of ethical rules and regulations that help to preserve wildlife and nature while people are out rockhounding.

Following these rules ensures many good trips to caves and cliffs for years to come. These rules are called The Rockhounding Code Of Ethics and can be found at the Forest Service Site.

TIP: Staying safe during rockhounding is really important. Therefore, do not underestimate any situation and be well equipped. I wrote about recommended safety equipment for rockhounding in this article:
Recommended Safety Equipment for Rockhounding: Stay Safe!

Emergency Situations for Beginners

If you are not used to being in unfamiliar territories and risky environments, it can be easy to panic and be overwhelmed if an emergency happens.  However, the best thing to do is not panic.

Staying calm is the only way you will be able to clearly think through the steps of handling any situation. Don’t allow yourself to go down the path of “what ifs”, that will only cause you to panic more.

Once you have taken care of the situation, don’t let it tarnish or shape your opinion of rockhounding. Just because an emergency happened once, does not mean it will happen again.

Understand that everyone has situations like that, and don’t be afraid to try again.  A hobby takes dedication to get it right, this is no different.

Final Thoughts

The best tip for rockhounding is to enjoy it 🙂

While rockhounding, you will not only learn about our Earth but also enjoy an amazing time with your family, friends, and relatives. And of course, spend a great time in nature.

But don’t forget to stay safe when you do rockhounding.

TIP: Check out the best places for rockhounding in the United States by each state.
Rockhounding Near Me: Best Locations State-by-State (Map)