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Thread: Preserving Iron Arrowheads

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  1. #1
    us
    Mar 2017
    The North Star State
    Garrett AT Pro & Ace 400
    156
    227 times
    Metal Detecting & American Indian Artifact Hunting

    Preserving Iron Arrowheads

    Hi all,

    Last spring my daughter and I each found an iron arrowhead while metal detecting. At the time I thought they had come out of the ground in remarkably good condition. The above photos were taken just days afterwards. They spent the summer indoors, in an air conditioned house, which I thought would keep them quite well, and for the most part it did.

    The problem is with the shorter of the two. I was moving it the other day, and a good size piece simply fell off of the tip. Ouch, that kinda hurt because these pieces hold a lot of significance to my daughter and I.

    My question is should I be treating these somehow? Should I give them a blast of WD-40, dip them in some type of oil, or something. I have come to understand that when you unearth a relic from the past, it is bound to deteriorate additionally just from the digging process, and being exposed to air again. My concern is that I may ruin these further in my attempt to preserve them, but if there is a safe way to prevent further corrosion, rust, or decay, I would like to hear your thought on it.

    Thanks




  2. #2

    Jan 2015
    104
    72 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Soak them in "rust oleum" then let them dry with some clean rust oleum on them. Iron is impossible to preserve, even the museums can't.

  3. #3
    us
    WolfPack member

    Aug 2009
    New Hampshire
    Garret Master hunter Cx Plus
    11,853
    6477 times
    The Truth
    YOU KNOW MY STANCE,LIVE FREE OR DIE

    Liberals,too stupid to know that they are really communists.

    ďA manís rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.Ē


    During times of universal deceit, telling the truth
    becomes a revolutionary act. -- George Orwell


  4. #4
    us
    WolfPack member

    Aug 2009
    New Hampshire
    Garret Master hunter Cx Plus
    11,853
    6477 times
    The Truth
    On metal arrow heads,specifically war points,Native Americans used a thin metal,iron.If the arrow happened to hit bone the thin metal arrow head would bend forming a hook preventing the arrow from being pulled out.Just a little bit of history for you.
    sjvalleyhunter likes this.
    YOU KNOW MY STANCE,LIVE FREE OR DIE

    Liberals,too stupid to know that they are really communists.

    ďA manís rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.Ē


    During times of universal deceit, telling the truth
    becomes a revolutionary act. -- George Orwell


  5. #5
    us
    Mar 2017
    The North Star State
    Garrett AT Pro & Ace 400
    156
    227 times
    Metal Detecting & American Indian Artifact Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by Red James Cash View Post
    On metal arrow heads,specifically war points,Native Americans used a thin metal,iron.If the arrow happened to hit bone the thin metal arrow head would bend forming a hook preventing the arrow from being pulled out.Just a little bit of history for you.
    Guess these must have been dropped, or missed their mark then. Any idea if that auto body stuff changes the color? Same goes for the rustoleum. I always thought that Rustoleum was a brand of paint. What specific product would you use by them?

    Thanks

  6. #6
    us
    Mar 2017
    The North Star State
    Garrett AT Pro & Ace 400
    156
    227 times
    Metal Detecting & American Indian Artifact Hunting
    Crystal clear enamel, by Rust-oleum??

  7. #7
    us
    May 2014
    Central California
    Minelab E-Trac and Whites MXT
    1,675
    1093 times
    Metal Detecting
    First of all, congratulations on finding these pieces of history. Obsidian and other stone arrowheads can readily be found, but iron ones are a rarity. For the same reason that 1943 steel cents are hardly ever found metal detecting (they simply disintegrate in the ground over time), iron arrowheads donít show up too often at all.

    With that being said, please do not spray these with Rust-Oleum or any aresol based product! Will it stop the rust? Maybe, but you ruin the arrowheads in my opinion. Look at it this way. If you have a baseball card that you want to protect, would you run it through a lamination machine? No, youíd put it in a protective sleeve instead of permanently altering the card. If those were my arrowheads this is what I would do.

    For starters we need to understand what rust is. Rust is iron oxide which is formed when iron reacts with oxygen and water. It is essentially a cancer that will grow and eventually destroy its host, which in this case is the arrowheads. So the first step that you need to do is to get rid of the existing cancer / rust.

    I would do this by using a very simply made electrolysis setup. By using an old cellphone charger you can make a setup for basically no cost. If you need a charger they are easily found at thrift shops for two bucks. There are plenty of threads on Treasurenet and on the internet on how to make an electrolysis setup, so I wonít go into that aspect here. If you need help, let me know and I can dig up a link to send you that will give you all the instructions youíd need.

    The electrolysis shouldnít take but a couple of minutes to rid the arrowheads of the rust. Now that you will have a clean piece of iron, youíll need to make sure that it is totally and completely dry, otherwise itíll rust again and probably fairly quickly.

    The best way to dry them will be to put them in an oven on a low temp for a period of time. I canít give you a set temperature or time, but if I had to start somewhere Iíd go with 200 degrees for ten or fifteen minutes and go from there. Youíll want to cook out every last molecule of water from the pores of the metal.

    After they have been taken out of the oven and cooled comes the final step. Remember, rust = iron + moisture (what is naturally in the air is enough) + oxygen. Now that weíve taken moisture out of the equation, we need to prevent it from getting back into it.

    This is done with the application of Renaissance Wax. This stuff is a fantastic preservative that is used by conservatories and museums, including the Smithsonian. At $16 a can itís not super cheap, but itís well worth it and a can will last you many years. Google it and take a read on what it can do.

    Put a fine layer of this over the entire arrowhead and it will protect it and keep moisture and oxygen away from the metal. Plus itís completely removable, it wonít change the appearance of the arrowheads in the slightest, and it has no negative effects on the metal.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The above is just my two cents. I love to see history come out of the ground and cringe when itís ruined or neglect by haphazard restoration / conservation efforts. Good luck on whatever method you end up using!

  8. #8
    us
    Mar 2016
    West Virginia
    Garrett AT Max, Garrett AT Pro, Garrett Ace 400, Garrett Pro Pointer AT
    193
    996 times
    Metal Detecting
    I have used a product called Corroseal to preserve iron horse shoes and axe heads, i use electrolisis first then seal with Corroseal. However i recently noticed alot of my items have began to flake and chunk off showing signs of heavy deterioration. I have seen alot of guys use wax to preserve items. I believe paraffin wax is what is used, they simply melt the wax in a pot, caution wax may ignite at high temps, then the items are removed. This method created a seal preventing oxygen to react with the iron. I will be trying the wax method this summer. Hope this helps.

  9. #9
    us
    Mar 2016
    West Virginia
    Garrett AT Max, Garrett AT Pro, Garrett Ace 400, Garrett Pro Pointer AT
    193
    996 times
    Metal Detecting
    Also, the wax can be easily removed with heat and reapplied as needed, with painting or clear coating and corroseal when put on items cant be removed.

 

 

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