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Old 06-10-2011, 11:06 PM
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Default Question about rock, clay, and ... Whatever else.

Hey guys, I've been building a 20 long for a pair of cits and have a couple of questions after not being able to find info on these topics.

One is about the decorative rocks in the bag at walmart, they are just sealed polished natural flat stone. Are they safe to use?

And... The clay I bought which has been soaking for a week smells not like perfume but the store I got it from... Dollar general here... Is this stuff still safe to use? Yes it's just the plain clay no additives or smells.

That's all for now...
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: Question about rock, clay, and ... Whatever else.

Yes, those rocks are safe to use, however they are over priced and the shine could look unnatural.

As for the clay, im not quite sure what you are asking. Are you saying that it smells like the store you got it from?
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: Question about rock, clay, and ... Whatever else.

I personally wouldn't use any treated rocks because I boil them or bake them before putting them in the viv and I wouldn't want to have to worry about what that might do to the protective coating. It might very well be safe, but I wouldn't use it myself.

I can speak directly to the clay issue. I have done a lot of experimentation and if you got clay kitty litter and after a week it isn't fully hydrated, it probably never will be. If there are no additives (little blue specs or other colored objects), then it is probably safe to use. However, after many batches, I gave up completely on kitty litter of all kinds. The degree to which it is heated to dry it varies such that much of it gets overheated and becomes partly "fired" so that it's part clay and part "ceramic". In fact, they might actually do it that way on purpose so that it doesn't turn to mud in the litter box, but maintains its shape somewhat.

I found that the best stuff to work with is bentonite drilling mud in powder form. Drillers use it to keep the borings open when they drill groundwater wells. It's pure bentonite powder and can be found at any drilling supply store. It hydrates instantly and has a smooth consistency - much better to work with IMO. Make sure it is pure bentonite without any polymers added.
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Originally Posted by Dartolution View Post
Hey guys, I've been building a 20 long for a pair of cits and have a couple of questions after not being able to find info on these topics.

One is about the decorative rocks in the bag at walmart, they are just sealed polished natural flat stone. Are they safe to use?

And... The clay I bought which has been soaking for a week smells not like perfume but the store I got it from... Dollar general here... Is this stuff still safe to use? Yes it's just the plain clay no additives or smells.

That's all for now...
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:24 AM
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Default Re: Question about rock, clay, and ... Whatever else.

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I found that the best stuff to work with is bentonite drilling mud in powder form. Drillers use it to keep the borings open when they drill groundwater wells. It's pure bentonite powder and can be found at any drilling supply store. It hydrates instantly and has a smooth consistency - much better to work with IMO. Make sure it is pure bentonite without any polymers added.
I've found that you get a better clay mixture if you use a ratio of about 70% red art (or similar clay) to 30% bentonite (this is before you add the organics) or 75 to 25.

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Old 06-11-2011, 01:49 AM
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Default Re: Question about rock, clay, and ... Whatever else.

You're right Ed. I should have made it clear that the bentonite powder is only one of several ingredients for a clay background or substrate mixture.

Bentonite shrinks and swells based on moisture content. If you use too much bentonite in the mix, the portion of the background near the top can dry out and crack.
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I've found that you get a better clay mixture if you use a ratio of about 70% red art (or similar clay) to 30% bentonite (this is before you add the organics) or 75 to 25.

Ed
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Old 06-11-2011, 02:43 AM
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Default Re: Question about rock, clay, and ... Whatever else.

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I personally wouldn't use any treated rocks because I boil them or bake them before putting them in the viv and I wouldn't want to have to worry about what that might do to the protective coating. It might very well be safe, but I wouldn't use it myself.
Just a note...

Rocks can contain pockets of air, or moisture and have been know to explode violently in the oven. Though unlikely, it is possible. A bleach treatment is a safer alternative.
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Old 06-11-2011, 07:19 PM
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Default Re: Question about rock, clay, and ... Whatever else.

Where can I get bentonite?
And red art clay?
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Old 06-11-2011, 09:57 PM
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Default Re: Question about rock, clay, and ... Whatever else.

Look for pottery supply stores in your area or online as those are the best sources.

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