Can Carnelian go in Salt? (Yes, But Not in Salt Water)


Carnelian is a reddish-brown mineral made up of the silica (SiO2) mineral chalcedony. It has inclusions of iron oxide, which are responsible for its distinctive color. The mineral is found in places like Peru, Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc., and it is a popular semi-precious gemstone.

Have you ever wondered if carnelian can go in salt? In this article, we are going to discuss just that. We will talk about the properties of Carnelian and understand how it interacts with salt. We will also discuss how to properly clean and take care of Carnelian.

Can Carnelian go in Dry Salt?

Yes, Carnelian can go in dry salt. It has a value of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and it is quite a strong mineral. So, putting carnelian in dry salt is perfectly safe, and it is a common way of recharging crystals. However, carnelian (or almost any crystal) should never be put into salt water. 

Immersing carnelian in salt water is harmful because when salt is dissolved in water, it enters the crevices of the stone and widens them, damaging the structure of the stone. In the case of carnelian, it can also react adversely with the iron present in the stone, discolouring or rusting the stone.

But when it comes to dry salt, it is quite safe. Without water, salt cannot penetrate the tiny crevices of the stone. It will only come in contact with the surface of the stone, which would not harm it.

Some people, however, are against putting carnelian in dry salt too. They suggest that upon repeated exposure, the stone can accumulate salt. Moreover, they argue that the salt particles can linger on the surface of the stone and any future contact with water can take them deep into the crevices, where they can cause damage.

But the chances of something like this happening are quite minimal. So we think that putting carnelian in dry salt is quite safe. Carnelian is a rather strong mineral, with a value of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, so it cannot be easily scratched or harmed by any other solid.

What Does Real Carnelian Look Like?

Carnelian is the most popular and least-expensive variant of chalcedony, a cryptocrystalline form of silica. It contains metal inclusions of iron oxide, which give it its distinctive reddish-brown color. But the stone can come in other colors as well, ranging from pale orange to almost black.

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Carnelian gets its name from the corruption of a 14th-century term “cornelian”, which is related to the cornel cherry—a reference to the reddish color of the fruits, similar to the color of the stone. 

When looking to identify real carnelian, we must learn about its properties:

  • Appearance: Carnelian stones can range from semi-opaque to highly translucent in terms of transparency. Its color can vary from orange to black but the reddish-brown stones are the most popular.
  • Hardness: Carnelian has a value of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, so it is quite a strong mineral. It cannot be easily scratched. 
  • Structure: Carnelian has a hexagonal (trigonal) crystalline structure. The stone has an uneven fracture and does not have cleavage (planes along which crystals tend to break).

Carnelian is very similar to sard—both made up of a chalcedony—and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Sometimes, however, they are used to refer to two subvarieties. 

Sard is a slightly darker version of carnelian, ranging from reddish brown to almost black. It is harder. Lastly, its fracture is duller and slightly more jagged. The boundary between these two is rather vague. 


Can Carnelian go in Salt Water?

No, carnelian should never be put into salt water. Carnelian has a value of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, meaning that it can survive underwater, but it should still not be immersed for too long. When we add salt into the solution, it just makes things worse by further harming the stone.

When immersed for too long, water will enter the tiny crevices of the stone and widen them. This encourages the formation of fissures, which might be unnoticeable in the beginning but can ultimately damage the structure of the stone. 

When we bring salt into the equation, it simply worsens things. With water, salt can enter the crevices and its particles will stay there even after the water evaporates. These particles will further encourage the formation of fissures and damage the stone.

Another important point to consider is the specific nature of the stone and how it might react with water. In our case, carnelian has metal inclusions of iron oxide, which give them its distinctive color. 

But, when minerals containing iron are exposed to water, they can become yellowed or develop rust. This rusting can occur even in the tiny crevices of the stones, from where they will be impossible to remove. Saltwater worsens this by speeding up the rusting process. 

How to Identify Real Carnelian?

To identify real carnelian, you must keep the following points in mind:

  1. Colour: If the carnelian has a uniform bright orange or red color, then it is most likely fake. In real carnelian stones, there are always subtle inconsistencies in their appearance: inclusions, cloudy patches, and patterns appear on their surface. 
  2. Weight: Real carnelian has a dense structure, so when you hold it, it should feel heavy. Fake crystals are often made out of plastic, which would be considerably lighter.
  3. Heat: Real carnelian, like most real crystals, is a slow conductor of heat. The stone should be cold to the touch, and if it’s not, it might not be real.
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Can Carnelian go in Himalayan Salt?

Yes, carnelian can go in Himalayan salt. With a hardness of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Scale, carnelian is a rather strong mineral, which is not easily harmed by other solids. While immersing carnelian in salt water is not recommended, it will not be a problem to keep it in dry salt of any kind, including Himalayan.

Himalayan salt is rock salt mined from Punjab in Pakistan, and it contains trace minerals that give it a pinkish hue. This is often used as a replacement for refined table salt, and it also serves decorative purposes.

Himalayan salt (halite) has a value of 2.0-2.5 on the Mohs Scale, which is significantly lower than the hardness of carnelian (6.5-7). Therefore, when these two come into contact at the surface level, the former cannot scratch or harm the latter.

However, it’s still better not to leave a crystal in salt for too long, as this can allow the salt to penetrate the salt. If you are charging carnelian in salt, just place it in a bed of dry salt for a few hours.

Can Carnelian go in Salt Water?

No, salt water is not safe for carnelian. The stone has a value of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Scale, meaning that it is safe to go underwater. Still, it should not be immersed for too long, as water can dull its surface and damage its structure. Saltwater exacerbates this corrosive process further. 

Saltwater is not safe for carnelian because, with the help of water, salt enters the crevices of the stone. These particles remain there even after the water evaporates and widen the cracks. These fissures may not be visible at first but they eventually damage the structure of the stone.

Carnelian also contains iron, which can react adversely with water. Stones containing iron tend to get yellowed or rusted when exposed to water. Saltwater fastens the rusting process by allowing electrons to easily flow from iron to oxygen.

In general, extended exposure to water can also cause crystals to lose their lustre. The water strips off the polish, making the surface significantly duller. 

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What Crystals Can be Cleansed in Salt?

Putting crystals in dry salt is a popular choice amongst collectors as salt is a natural detoxifier. However, not all crystals are safe to put into salt. Salt can sometimes damage their structure and dull their colors. Saltwater, in most cases, is even worse, because it can penetrate deeper into crystals.

These are the crystals that should not be put into salt:

  • Calcite
  • Turquoise
  • Azurite
  • Fire opal
  • Amber

Crystals that are safe in dry salt include:

  • Tahitian black pearls
  • Citrine
  • Pink Chalcedony
  • Amethyst
  • Carnelian

However, it should be noted that even these crystals should not be put into the salt water as they can be damaging. 

How to Take Care of Carnelian?

Carnelian is a strong mineral with a value of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Scale. This means that it is quite resistant to scratching, and it is also safe to go underwater. Our cleaning and caring methods for carnelian will consider these.

To clean carnelian stones, the best way is to use a solution of light dish detergent/soap and water. Immerse the stone in it for a few minutes and use a soft scrub to clean the tiny crevices. Rinse the stone under running water to remove any excess soap, and then let it air dry. 

It is not recommended to steam clean or boil carnelian. You can, however, use an ultrasonic cleaner by taking it to a professional. Other than that, one must protect carnelian stones from sharp blows, harsh chemicals, and extreme temperature changes. 

How to Cleanse Carnelian Using Salt?

Cleansing crystals with salt is a popular method of recharging them. Follow these steps to clean your carnelian with salt:

  • Fill a bowl with about 2-inch deep salt.
  • Place your carnelian upon the salt bed. It is better not to bury the crystal as it gives more chances for salt particles to enter into its crevices and damage the stone.
  • Leave it on salt for about a few hours but not more than 7-8 hours.
  • Rinse the crystal under running water to remove any leftover salt.
  • Let it air dry. Flip it a few times while drying to ensure that all crevices are empty. 


In this article, we have discussed how carnelian interacts with salt. Given its hardness of 6.5-7 on the Mohs Scale, carnelian is a strong mineral, and it is quite safe in dry salt. However, it should not be immersed in salt water as that can dull its color and damage its structure. We talked about taking care of carnelian stones and learnt how to cleanse them using salt. 

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