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clay

white residue forming on black fossils

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clay

A friend of mine (who is not a fossil collector) found this fossils at the Outer Banks of NC.  He asked me what it was (which I told him)  and why it had turned from its very black color when found in the sand to brown with a white-ish residue?  He put it back into salt water (which I never heard of doing) and it is fading lighter brown.  I have had similar trouble with my black fossils that I thought it was salt film and I rubbed olive oil on them and it cleaned it off and made them shiny.  But . . . . I don't have any fossils this big and nice and I didn't want to give him bad advice.  What is happening to the color and what can be done about it?  Thanks for any advice!   *This is the fossil below but it is wet and the film doesn't show up unless it is dry.5cb4ffeda4be9_johnnyfossilouterbanksNC.thumb.jpg.48b2b27275b565a5ddc6d7be49297735.jpg

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sixgill pete

First, that is an amazing find for the outer banks. I am guessing when you say outer banks you mean the Kitty Hawk, Waves, Salvo, Rodanthe, Hatteras and Ocracoke areas. Fossils are infrequently found there. I would recommend the fossil be soaked in FRESH water to remove the salt. Then let it fully dry. It will lighten up as it dries out. 

 

Now a question for you. Why would you rub olive oil on a fossil? In my opinion this could only damage it in the long run.

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Mark Kmiecik

Try soaking the fossil in distilled water for a week or so and then dry it out. If the film is caused by soluble salts, soaking to dissolve the salts should help. Keep the fossil in a dry display/case. If kept in a humid environment the salts will travel from a place of higher concentration (inside the fossil) to a place of lower concentration (the air). Also, the olive oil is not a good idea. It is an organic substance and just like every other will deteriorate over time and probably leave an even less desirable stain/discoloration that may become permanent.

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Bobby Rico

Great advice so far I would just add a little help change the water daily and then dry very slowly,, :dinothumb:

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caldigger
2 hours ago, Mark Kmiecik said:

Also, the olive oil is not a good idea. It is an organic substance and just like every other will deteriorate over time and probably leave an even less desirable stain/discoloration that may become permanent.

The olive oil may also go rancid after a while and offer up an unpleasant smell to go along with the staining. :shakehead:

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