FAQs

1. What size ultraviolet lamp do I need?

2. What precautions do I take when using a ultraviolet lamp?

3. How long do Ultraviolet bulbs and filters last?

4. Where can I find fluorescent minerals?

5. What is the difference between a shortwave ultraviolet lamp and a "blacklight"?

6. What size lamp do I need for my display case?

7. Where can I find a display cabinet for my fluorescent mineral collection?

8. What type of Ultraviolet Lamp do I need to properly see fluorescent minerals?

 

Answers

1. What size ultraviolet lamp do I need?

When determining what size lamp you need remember 90% of all fluorescent minerals need a shortwave UV light source.  In the world of UV lighting bigger is better.  The bigger the lamp the larger the optical filter and the more output from the bulb or bulbs.  We are the only company offering the most affordable lamps anywhere in the world! PERIOD.  With that said our 4 watt shortwave lamp is the most affordable but it is meant as a specimen lamp.  This means no more than 6 to 12 inches away from the rock you are trying to look at.  It is not meant to be a field lamp.  Our beginner enhanced 6 watt shortwave lamp is 3 times the output than our 4 watt because of the size of the filter, type of reflector, and type of bulb used. Still very affordable and you can truly use it as a field lamp out in the field!  As you increase the wattage imagine a larger footprint and a brighter rock from a further distance away.  Buy what you can afford but it has been our experience customers come back and buy larger lamps for their field/display needs.  Our 39 watt shortwave is the most popular.
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2. What precautions do I take when using a ultraviolet lamp?

General simple precautions should be taken when working with ultraviolet light.  Shortwave and midwave UV can sunburn the eyes and skin if left unprotected.  The sunburn is not instant with UV exposure but if enough UV gets on your eyes or skin they long enough  sunburn will occur both being unpleasant.  Sunburn of the eyes will cause tearing and the feeling on sand in your eyes.  Also a super sensitivity to any light which normally can last 4 to 8 hours.  The higher the wattage of the lamp the quicker you can sunburn eyes and skin.  Simply do not stare at the UV light  wear UV blocking glasses (prescription glasses ok) and be aware  that reflection off of rocks does occur.  Children should be made aware  the lamp is not a toy much like a BB gun and with simple precautions no sunburn will occur.
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3.How long do ultraviolet bulbs and filters last?

Ultraviolet bulbs on average last and average of 6000 hours if left constantly on.  But the life of a any bulb is shortened by on/off cycles.  All fluorescent bulbs use a tungsten filament to ignite the mercury vapor inside the bulb.  You can expect thousands of hours of use or years of use.  The optical filters used in shortwave and midwave lamps also have a lifespan.  A process called solarization occurs to the filter to where the optical glass gradually looses its ability to transmit UV light while block visible light.  Average life is three to four thousand hours of use but the larger the lamp the faster solarization occurs.  Precaution should also be taken to not have the filter glass in a high humidity environment and avoid water on the filter.
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4. Where can I find fluorescent minerals?

Fluorescent minerals are found all over the world.  There are hundreds of documented areas where fluorescent minerals can be found.  And easily thousands more locations that are not known.  Fluorescent minerals can be found on the surface but most are found underground.  Old or current mine tailings are the best locations to hunt.  In the process of extracting minerals from the earth miners pull out rock from the earth and pile them aside as waste rock.  This waste rock is where many fluorescent minerals our found.  Our informational CD contains a database of over 220,000 locations of where mines are located all over the earth with GPS coordinates.
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5. What is the difference between a shortwave ultraviolet lamp and a "blacklight"

There are major differences between the to when it comes to fluorescent minerals.  A blacklight aka longwave UV is very cheap to make but the energy generated by a longwave UV lamp is not enough to make most fluorescent minerals glow.  90% of fluorescent minerals need filtered shortwave UV light.  The term "filtered" means the shortwave UV bulb has a external filter to help block out the visible light generated by the bulb.  Without the filter you cannot clearly see the fluorescent response.  Many people make the mistake of just buying a shortwave bulb to try and save money but quickly realize that without the filter the bulb is useless.  The expense of the optical filter glass is around 60 to 70% of the total cost to manufacture a lamp.  The optical filter is a very specialized type of glass that blocks visible light but allows the invisible UV rays to penetrate.  Shortwave UV cannot penetrate most plastics or ordinary glass.
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6. What size lamp do I need for my display case?

Most display cases are 4x3x3 in size and most lamps are mounted inside the display case.  We recommend at a minimum of 95 watt for your display case.  Some customers use 190 watts because their budget allows it and they enjoy viewing their fluorescent minerals in daylight.  Or they wish to have one shortwave and one longwave/midwave lamp inside their display case.  Our display lamps also use fans to help cool the lamp in an enclosed space and we use HOYA filters for the best formulation against solarization.  Also note some customers also use their field lamps as a display lamp.  If your budget does not allow for a true display lamp we recommend getting a 10 gallon fish tank and placing your minerals inside of it.  Most pet store will also have a fine graded top that you can place your lamp on to of.  When going to a pet store ask for a top that will fit your 10 gallon fish tank and say you need a top for your snake or reptile they will know what to get you.  We do supply clear plastic steps so you can display your rocks better.  You can call or email for more assistance with your display.

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7. Where can I find a display case for my fluorescent minerals?

Most larger minerals clubs build their own cases or have a local source to purchase one.  Because the typical size of a display case is 4'x3''x3 feet they are not normally available in store.  The steps to place your rocks are also not readily available.  We do have a few sources but they are very expensive and shipping is as well.  Please contact us if you would like more information.  We can also help you source smaller cases 25"x24"x@24" glass cases locally.  We stopped selling such cases because of damage in transit.
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8. What type of ultraviolet lamp do I need to see fluorescent minerals?

Did you know only 90% need a shortwave UV lamp to glow?  Less than 10% of fluorescent minerals will glow with a "blacklight" aka longwave UV.  When choosing a lamp you need the shortwave UV.  Our beginner lamps have both shortwave and longwave and we can build shortwave/longwave field and display lamps for our customers.  Midwave UV is also nice to have since some rocks will change to a different color under midwave.  A example of this is calcite from Mexico.  Under longwave it glows pink, under midwave yellow, and under shortwave a blue white color.  Most fluorescent minerals do not change to a different color under midwave but many new ones are being discovered that they do.  And buy what you can afford but bigger is certainly better!
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