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A Stone to Be Used for Water Treatment

Joint project of St.-Petersburg Mining museum and Forpost Nord-West.
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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

If not for this rock, humankind would probably have never survived at the dawn of civilisation with its harsh environment. There is a vast potential hidden in the mineral to which a whole epoch is linked. And although the stone is by its appearance grey and somewhat mediocre, thanks to it people learned how to control fire and make weapons. Its name is flint or firestone.

Flint was considered a sacred stone because of its ability to produce sparks. Numerous legends say each and every universe and all creatures were made out of flint’s sparks. There is a version that the mineral’s name comes from the word cremare meaning ’to burn’ in Latin.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Flint had remained humanity’s most valuable stone for many centuries. It even managed to stand competition with matches for a while. Even with a new invention available, travellers still preferred to have a piece of flint with them since it could easily ignite a fire from sparks.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

In Russia, flintstone was used for paving water wells. A common belief was that after doing so, the water acquired healing properties and turned into crystal clear as if it were not a well but a mountain creek. Peter the Great, the Emperor of Russia, actually issued an order instructing his soldiers to take a pouch of rocks for water cleaning purposes when going on a trip.

However, it was the 1970s when scientists decided to pay more attention to the phenomenon of silica water. Back then, a discovery made by Anatoli Malyarchikov from Belarus caused a real sensation. An engineer was in an evacuation not far from Novgorod, and he got interested in the nearby lakes for some reason. Those lakes were known for transparency and cleanliness of water; there were no seaweed or fish in them too. As per locals, swimming in those lakes positively affected human health, scratches or wounds healed faster, and nails and hair grew stronger. The secret of the fantastic taste the water had was in silicon, with which the bottom and shores of water bodies were covered.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

According to conducted studies, water alkalinity increased over flint. At the same time, impurities, such as ammonia, heavy metal ions, and mercury compounds, got neutralised. Mr Malyarchikov, in fact, used to drink such water, wash himself and prepare food with it, and admitted positive changes in his health condition. In the 90s, silica water and its properties became a topic of discussion at numerous scientific conferences. Many people drank silica water or used it for cooking, often claiming that water had an incredible impact on their health. Yet hardly anyone knew that not all varieties could be used for freshwater activation but only an opaline or chalcedonic flint.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

At the time, there were some plans to study the possibilities of treating tumours with silica water. Silicon-activated water was taken for examination to 20 scientific centres. The results of that research turned out to be contradictory, and the study itself was never completed.

Nowadays, areas of application of flint include alcohol and starch production, manufacturing sandpaper and cement, and several others. Some types of rock can also be used as an ornamental material.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей