Rubies are one of the family of cardinal gem stones, along with amethysts, emeralds, sapphires and of course, diamonds.
Rubies are a sub-family of sapphires. Sapphire’s main ingredient is aluminum oxide which together with an added “contaminant” determines the color of the sapphire. If the resultant stone is pink to red, we call it a ruby.
These gems can be created in many ways. Some of them include a oxyhydrogen torch as demonstrated by ElementalMaker in the video below.
An easier way is creating rubies using microwaves; Ben from the NightHawkInLight channel demonstrates how he attempted and succeeded to use a microwave to make rubies. Our article will focus on the steps he took in the video below.
What Are the Ingredients of Rubies?
Before creating the rubies, it is essential to note the ingredients. Apart from the aluminum oxide base mentioned above, chromium oxide is added to provide it with the color. Counterintuitively, the chromium oxide powder added to the mixture is green, but with microwaves applied will soon turn red. Add only one or two percent in weight of the green chromium oxide to aluminum oxide.
Radiate the Right Way – Safety Warning
You need to have a microwave that you dedicate to scientific pursuits. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PREPARE FOOD IN THE SAME MICROWAVE AFTER MAKING RUBIES. The components are highly toxic for human consumption, and some of the bits might remain on the microwave.
Another significant factor to consider is using the right container. Ben attempted to use a kiln but could not achieve high enough temperatures to form the rubies. A kiln is a highly resistant material made from aluminum oxide brick with a black conductive lining that converts the microwave radiation into infrared radiation, highly concentrated into the kiln.
Ben eventually switched from the kiln to a glass container (a thick glass candle holder with a ceramic lid), but to generate some heated plasma, he inserted some aluminum wool fibers. The candle holder is placed on top of a glass plate inside the microwave and covered with a lid.
Cover the candle container with the lid and place in the microwave for about 10 seconds. The lid helps to concentrate the plasma into the powder mix.
After the flashes are done, you can remove the glass and see if the rubies have been formed. Use a UV lamp to see the the red spotted highlights of the rubies. This substance might not be the purest, but at least they are present in the seed material.
For us to understand the whole process, it is critical to understand the chemistry behind it.
The first chemical process in the glass is the flame fusion whereby when you start the microwave there is a flame that sparks off and forms a super heated plasma due to the high temperature in the microwave. A mixture of the oxygen and hydrogen leads to the combustion process in the glass container.
The second process is the Czochralski process, where the seed material has been heated to the melting point; hence they tend to form small crystals that are pink – reddish in nature.
After the second process, the third is the flux growth, where the molecules mix with the other materials that create the small crystals which attach.
The last method is the hydrothermal process whereby crystallization occurs, and the crystals are formed, which are now called rubies.