Crystals are among the most beautiful gifts that we have been given by Mother Earth and metals in their various forms can also delight the senses. However, just like Mother Earth herself, some crystals can be just as dangerous as they are beautiful. Many of these stones are perfectly safe to handle or wear as jewelry, but may present a danger when they are used to create anything that will be consumed.
No matter what you are intending to do with your crystals, you should always be aware of base minerals they contain as a very good chunk of them can contain poisonous elements, such as lead, and arsenic. Some minerals like copper and zinc are healthful in small amounts but toxic in larger doses. While these toxic elements generally stay safely within a crystal and cause no problems with casual and even intensive use, it is a good idea to be aware of potential toxicities.
Some minerals can release toxins into the skin when acted upon by natural oils or sweat and magic-users in particular can run into problems with toxicity when consuming gem elixirs, massaging the skin with crystal-infused oils, or cutting or engraving stones to make talismans, which can release dust which, in turn, can easily be inhaled. (Of course, dust in the eyes, lungs and sinuses is never a good thing, regardless of toxicity.)
As is true with many insects and animals, it is often the brightest and most beautiful crystals that are the most dangerous. As a general note, almost all blue and green stones, especially brightly colored ones, contain copper/or arsenic, but be sure to research each stone individually.
Some Safety Precautions
To play it safe, always make sure you wash your hands before and after working with your crystals. This will help keep you safe and your crystals clean, both physically and energetically. Use a mask, gloves, eye protection and good ventilation when you are engraving, polishing or sanding stones for jewelry. Wetting them before you begin will cut down on the dust. Tumbled stones are less likely to leak toxins and dangerous materials, rough stones are more likely to dissolve or break off and leak these toxins.
A List of Potentially Toxic Minerals
Some minerals are more toxic than others and there are many different types of toxicity. This list is just an overview of minerals that contain potentially harmful components, but you must research whatever mineral you are thinking of using on an individual basis to ensure your own safety.
This is NOT a comprehensive list of all toxic minerals.
Please be safe, and do extensive research on your crystals before using them, especially if you are making a gem elixir and the crystal will be ingested.
Adamite- Zinc arsenate, may also contain iron or copper
Actinolite – a fibrous form of asbestos
Ajoite – contains aluminum and copper
Alexandrite – contains aluminum
Aluminum – Aluminum toxicity can impair growth, cause bone deformities and weakness, confusion, speech problems and seizures. Especially dangerous for people with impaired kidney function.
Amazonite – The color is from copper or lead, but it is considered stable.
Angelite or Anhydrate – Calcium sulfate, may also contain lead
Antimony – Ingesting or inhaling antimony results in poisoning similar to arsenic
Aragonite – a type of calcium carbonate (aka chalk). It is reactive to certain other minerals releases toxic chemicals if burned. Irritating to eyes and mucous membranes.
Arsenic – A particularly potent poison popular with assassins during the 15th and 16th centuries. It was once also a popular pesticide and can still be found in treated lumber, the surrounding soil and water.
Aspestos – causes respiratory irritation. A well-documented cancer-causing agent.
Atacamite – contains copper
Aurichalcite – a carbonate mineral containing zinc and copper
Azurite – contains copper
Barium – Affects the nervous system… explosive.
Beryl Group – beryllium aluminum cyclosilicate. Beryllium is a carcinogen
Boji-stones These are trademarked. Who knows what’s in them. Rumored to contain sulfur.
Brochantite – A copper sulfate
Cavansite – calcium vanadium silicate, All vanadium compounds should be considered toxic.
Celestite – strontium sulfate
Cerussite – lead carbonate aka white lead ore
Chalcanthite – contains copper and sulfur and is water soluble
Chalcopyrite (Peacock Stone, Peacock Ore) – a copper iron sulfide mineral Chrysocolla – a copper silicate
Cinnabar – this is where mercury comes from
Conichalcite – contains both copper and arsenic
Copper – Has been linked to cirrhosis of the liver and Alzheimer’s Disease, among other things
Covellite – a copper sulfide mineral
Cuprite – copper
Dioptase – a copper cyclosilicate mineral
Eilat Stone – copper
Emerald – a type of beryl
Eudialyte – Mildly radioactive, soluble in an acid solution
Flourite – corrosive, may irritate skin or eyes.
Gem Silica – copper
Galena – lead sulfide
Garnierite (Genthite) – nickel ore
Iolite aka Cordierite – a magnesium iron aluminium cyclosilicate
Iron – While iron is necessary to body function, excess iron intake through ingestion or inhalation can lead to intestinal distress and liver failure.
Kansas Pop Rocks – concretions of iron sulfide
Kyanite – contains aluminum
Labradorite – contains aluminum
Lapis Lazuli – contains sulfur.
Lead – Lead interferes with many body processes and is particularly dangerous to children
Marcasite – an iron sulfide
Magnetite (Lodestone) – an iron oxide
Malachite – a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral
Meteorite – These come from space. There’s no end to the possibilities.
Mohawkite – contains copper and arsenic
Moldavite – this naturally occurring glass may contain a variety of minerals
Moonstone – a sodium-potassium aluminum silicate
Nickel – Builds up in the body, a carcinogen, causes an allergic response in some
Orpiment – an arsenic sulfide mineral
Psilomelane – contains barium
Pyrite (Fool’s Gold, Inca Gold) – iron sulfide
Realgar – also known as ruby of arsenic. Also contains sulfur. Was once used to poison rats and for fireworks.
Ruby -aluminum oxide
Sapphire – aluminum oxide
Sodalite – contains aluminum
Spinel – contains aluminum
Stibnite – an antimony sulfide
Strontium – exists in both stable and radioactive forms. Stable forms can cause poor bone growth in children if inhaled or ingested in large quantities
Smithsonite (Galmei, Zinc spar)- zinc carbonate
Sulfur – Extremely irritant if inhaled. Dangerous to mucous membranes. Ingestion causes vomiting & diarrhea
Topaz – contains aluminum and fluorine
Tourmaline – a crystal boron silicate that may contain aluminum, iron or other minerals
Turquoise – an hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminum
Uranium – radioactive mineral
Vanadinite – Vanadium ore, also a source of lead
Vanadium – Toxic in high levels, however, it is not easily absorbed through ingestion
Variscite – aluminum
Wulfenite – a lead molybdate mineral
Zinc – Although some zinc is necessary to body function, excess zinc can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients.