A photo of the Trinity test - July 16th 1945
Gemstones
A photo of the Trinity test - July 16th 1945

Just How Radioactive Is Trinitite? Is It Safe To Keep And Is It Legal?

Trinitite is one of the many results of the 1945 Trinity nuclear test in New Mexico. This was the first time a nuclear weapon was detonated, and marked a major turning point in human history.
The intense heat and power of the bomb turned much of the desert floor subjected to the blast to a glassy substance we now know as trinitite. Shortly after the nuclear weapon development and tests went public, people flocked to the blast site and pocked as much of the mineral as they could.
Trinitite samples quickly became a popular nuclear-novelty, and was endorsed by the US government as proof that lingering nuclear fallout posed no real threat. In 1952 this changed.
The US army bulldozed the site, and declared any trinitite taken from the site was illegal property of the United States Government. But what about the tons of the stuff in circulation?
Trinitite gathered before 1952 remained legal, and is still available for purchase today. Trinitite is quite literally nuclear fallout. Even today, it remains radioactive (mildly enough that it is safe to handle). Fake trinitite is often sold, but the real stuff can be determined from the fake via gamma spectroscopy.
All legitimate trinitite carries nuclear activation products found nowhere in nature. Each piece is a piece of nuclear history, down to the atomic level. A dark chapter in our history.
A piece of trinitite.
A piece of trinitite.
Trinitite pieces and a geiger counter (which measures radioactivity).
Trinitite pieces and a geiger counter (which measures radioactivity).
“Trinitite samples quickly became a popular nuclear-novelty.”
Trinitite can be purchased online.
Trinitite can be purchased online.
Trinitite can be found sold at roadside stops around the original site.
Trinitite can be found sold at roadside stops around the original site.