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How to Properly Clean and Preserve Metal Detector Finds - Part 1: An Overview

Inevitably when you have been metal detecting long enough you will find something of value.  This may be something that is monetarily valuable like an old coin or something that may have an intrinsic value - or a value to the digger.  Something that may have more of an intrinsic value to the person who found it could be something like the old stirrup shown in the picture below.

old bronze stirrup

This stirrup was found on an a piece of land that used to be an old ranch during the mid 1800's to early 1900's.  It was found by our very own Scrap Iron from High Plains Prospectors.  I know this thing has value because I have offered him $75 for it and he wouldn't take it.  So, it has both monetary value and intrinsic value.  To him, this relic is worth more than the $75 I offered him.

When you find something like this, or a valuable coin even, you will want to make sure that you take care of it from the time you dig it up to the time it goes on display.  In this series of articles, we will discuss how to do that using tools and techniques to properly clean and preserve all of your different types of iron, silver, copper, bronze, and even gold metal detector finds.

This article will simply be an overview.  As we progress, we will discuss the basics of cleaning and preserving metal detector finds.  Then we will delve into each facet as time goes on to discuss the different tools, solutions, and preservatives for each type of metal and metal detecting finds.

We will start this overview by covering the four main subjects:

  1. Different Stages of The Cleaning and Preservation Process.

  2. Different Types of Metals You Find When Metal Detecting

  3. Different Methods to Clean Various Metals Found Metal Detecting

  4. Different Tools Used to Clean Metal Detector Finds

Different Stages of The Cleaning and Preservation Process 

In this part of the series, we will discuss an overview of what steps to take and when to take them to ensure your metal detecting find is properly protected and preserved while minimizing physical and environmental damage.

Different Types of Metals you Find When Metal Detecting

The most common metals found when metal detecting are:  Iron, Aluminum, Brass/Bronze/Copper, Silver and Gold.  You will also find some Pewter items.  In addition to this you will find some items that are plated.  Special care needs to be taken when cleaning plated items as they can be easily ruined.  Other relic items, such as old watches, may contain several different metals.  Special care needs to be taken with them as well.  With subsequent parts to this article we will discuss each of the most common metals and how to clean and protect them.

Different Methods to Clean Various Metal Found Metal Detecting

Physical, chemical, and electrical are the three methods we will discuss in subsequent articles.  Each of these methods has pros and cons.  We will discuss them each in detail as we proceed with the different parts of this blog.

Different Tools Used to Clean Metal Detector Finds

We will dive deeper into the various methods to clean your metal detector finds in other parts of the series.  This will include a variety of items to help make the cleaning process easier and more effective.  We will discuss how each has its specific use and times to avoid using certain tools on certain objects.  We will also dig deeper into precisely how processes like electrolysis and physical and chemical actions work in cleaning and protecting certain items.

Stay tuned to our blog for upcoming episodes.  Follow us on your favorite social media outlet to stay informed of episode releases:

YouTube:  HighPlainsProspectors

Facebook:  @highplainspropsectors

Instagram:  #highplainsprospectors

Twitter:  @HProspectors

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