Radiocarbon dating sample preparation
Often a sample may not be homogeneous, or there may be extraneous materials such as rootlets, thread, glue or some other visible contaminant in the sample.
The sample is then washed in distilled water and crushed, or milled, to increase the surface area for subsequent pretreatment.
The sample is treated with sodium chlorite to isolate holocellulose, rinsed, then treated with sodium hydroxide, and rinsed again (solvent extraction may be required depending on sample preservation).
The sample is then washed with HCl, rinsed and dried.
A variety of pretreatment procedures are employed at the Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory to ensure we date only material of secure chemical origins.Below is a list of commonly dated sample types and potential problems.