A rock hound is an amateur collector of rocks and minerals. Becoming a rock hound is easy (just pick up a rock!), but here are a few ideas to get you started on your rock collection.
WHICH ROCKS TO COLLECT
You can base your collection on color, shape, texture or anything that you find interesting. Many rock hounds try to collect all the related rocks from the area where they live. Others look for unusual rocks from places they visit.
As your collection and interest grows, you can start to learn more about different rock classifications.
WHERE TO FIND ROCKS
Your rock collection can start with rocks you find in your own backyard or neighborhood. Look for stream beds or areas of erosion which can often reveal unusual rocks.
Interesting rocks can also be found in places where humans have cut into the earth, like quarries, ditches, road cuts and construction sites. Be very careful when visiting those sites and always make sure to let an adult know where you’re going.
Remember, it is often illegal to collect rocks in state parks, national parks or national monuments. If you are rock hunting on private property, make sure you ask for permission from the landowner.
ROCK COLLECTING TOOLS
A magnifying glass and a geologist’s hammer are the basic tools of any rock collector.
The head of a geologist’s hammer has two sides, a blunt end and a pick end. It can be used to break off rock specimens and trim them to display size. Always wear safety glasses when hammering rock to keep sharp chips from flying up and damaging your eyes.
Other useful equipment could include a field guide to rocks and minerals, gloves, newspaper to wrap rocks, labels and a felt-tip marker.
CLEANING AND DISPLAYING ROCKS
As you collect rocks, it’s a good idea to keep a record of when and where you found it. You can make a temporary label with piece of tape and stick it to your rock. Record the details of your find in a field notebook.
Rocks don’t usually require special treatment. You can rinse them in cold water and gently clean them with an old toothbrush.
Egg cartons and shoe boxes make excellent containers for storing rocks. If you want to display your rocks, try a decorative glass jar. You can also buy cases that have individual compartments and transparent lids.
HOW TO FIND MORE INFORMATION
Many cities have rock and mineral clubs that offer classes and workshops. Local rock and gem shows are another fun source of information and can be an excellent place to buy or trade specimens. Many natural history museums have rock and mineral displays, and also sell starter kits in their gift shops.
SEND US PHOTOS OF YOUR FAVORITE ROCKS
Found an awesome rock? Just use the form below to send us a photo of it. After we review it, we’ll post it in a photo gallery on Scoutlife.org so everyone can see it.
Important Note: Please only upload photos of rocks. Because of privacy rules, we can’t post any photos that show people’s faces. Always ask for your parent’s permission before uploading anything to a website.