Ruby of Arsenic – Realgar, Beautifully Toxic


Realgar is an arsenic sulfide mineral, usually found in crystalline form.  It’s color ranges from dark red to orange-red/orange-yellow.  It is transparent to translucent with a resinous luster.  Realgar is considered a very important but also highly toxic mineral as it contains a high level of arsenic.  Because it’s photosensitive, prolonged exposure to light will physically change it into pararealgar; an altogether different mineral.  The composition remains the same, but the crystal form changes.  Pararealgar is bright orange or yellow, and has a more powdery consistency.  The photo below shows the changes that can occur.

Arsenic has been known throughtout history as an important poison which killed quickly in the right dose.  Yet, Victorian womenwould ingest small amounts of arsenic to make them look paler, thus differentiating themselves from the well-tanned working class.  Arsenic was also formerly used to treat syphilis and other medical conditions. Its poisonous properties have led to its use as a wood preservative, insecticides and fungicides and in the manufacture of certain semiconductors.

Uses and Facts About Realgar

This ruby-red mineral name comes from the Arabic rahj al-ġār which means “powder of the mine.”  It was used in ancient Byzantium as a mineral pigment for artworks.  Some paintings using this pigment have suffered severe fading over time, as realgar is unstable and turns yellowish-orange when exposed to light, leaving bright red areas of those paintings quite different and slightly powdery.

It is found in many locations around the world, but some of the best Realgar crystals come from the Rumanian Transylvania at Baia Sprie (Felsöbánya), as well as Cavnic (Kapnik,) and the Jiepaiyu (Shimen) Mine, located in Hunan Province, China.  Other notable deposits are found in Switzerland, Turkey, and Peru.  In America, several areas produce high-quality finds. The Getchell Mine in Nevada; and the Royal Reward Mine in Washington have both produced exceptional crystals of sharp color and relatively large sizes.  Nevada, Utah, and California all have realgar mines which also produce good crystals.

Realgar is also known as Ruby Sulpher, Ruby of Sulpher, and Ruby of Arsenic, all due to its amazing color and similarities, in appearance to actual rubies.

Realgar Spiritual Magic

Crystallogists and those in touch with the metaphysical world evaluate realgar highly.  It is known to be especially potent at drawing energy into the body on all levels. It is also used for healing and is said to be invaluable for healing past traumatic incidents where individuals have suppressed terrible memories.  Crystal healers use the energy of realgar to go into the subconscious and unlock those hidden things; bringing them to the surface where they can be overcome. This reflection, although difficult and painful, will eventually bring about acceptance and lead to growth.  Realgar is also used in crystal healing for detoxification and reducing or removing dependency.  It is also used to increase fertility and relieve sexual problems or lack of sexual energy.

Safe Handling

Both realgar and pararealgar should be handled with extreme care.  Hand washing after touching is a must and it’s recommended gloves be worn.  Be careful not to inhale any powdery dust and keep samples in a dark place.

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