Does soaking Opals in water help them shine brighter?
Another popular myth is that you should soak your opal in water every so often. Again, if it is not a form of hydrophane and is a good solid Australian opal you are just wasting your time.
Go ahead and soak it if you like, but you won’t enhance it one little bit.
The average Australian opals from Lightning Ridge, Coober Pedy and Andamooka carry around 6% water, most of which is locked up in tiny voids between the spheres. These voids are so small that it requires an electronic microscope to see them. Under these conditions the water molecule is held so tight that it is near impossible for it to escape without some help. It may be well to point out that every 20,000 layers of voids is equivalent only to the thickness of a fine dot made by a ball point pen.
The solving of these questions has shown the theory to be false, and that the opal was formed under very special conditions by a complex ion exchange process that can now be demonstrated in the laboratory. In geological terms, the opal grew quite quickly, picking up traces of the following elements at Lightning Ridge in the process.