Why "Chemtrail" Tests on the Ground Find Metals That Don't Occur Naturally

Mick West

Staff member
Chemical Test for Metals Like Aluminum Metabunk.jpg

Believers in the "chemtrail" theory (the theory that the trails behind high-flying aircraft secretly contain chemicals intended to alter the climate or weather) often point to chemical analyses done on soil, air or water. Typically these tests are done for three metals: Aluminum, Barium, and Strontium (the fallacious "geoengineering signature"). Since these elements are all naturally found in the Earth's crust, they usually find some of each. Experts in geochemistry recently analyzed a typical set of these results, and determined they did not come from a secret spraying program.

However a very common misunderstanding here comes from the fact that these metals are not found in their metallic form in nature. Aluminum needs to be extracted from rock, and once in metallic form it oxidizes (rusts) over the years, and barium and strontium both are highly reactive to air. Typically the chemtrail believer will quote something like Wikipedia:

So the argument goes: if Aluminum (or Barium, etc) is never found in nature, then why are the chemtrail related tests finding it?

The answer is that the tests used for these metals do not distinguish between the A) metal and B) a mineral that contains the metal.

So it does not matter if you test an aluminum soda can, or a piece of rock made of aluminosilicates, or windblown dust that contains tens of different minerals that contain aluminum, the results will all return the presence of significant amounts of aluminum.

The most commonly used test for metals in water is EPA 6010B, a standard test for metals:
The important word there is plasma. Plasma is the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid, and gas. If you take some rock or aluminum and heat it up it will eventually melt. Heat it up more and it will turn to liquid, continue heating and it will become a gas. Finally if you heat it up incredibly high it will become a plasma - a cloud of individual atoms stripped of their electrons. As described in Wikipedia:

Since the sample is just broken down into a soup of atoms, there's no way of knowing (from this type of test) if the individual atoms of aluminum (or other metals) were in their metallic form, or in their mineral (rock) form.

EPA6010B is the most common test used. Another test is EPA 200.8, which is also plasma spectrometry, so the same applies there. Sometimes the test is just described as ICP/MS or ICPMS (Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometry), which is, of course, the same thing.

So when you test samples of dirt, or air or water that has a little dust in it, then you are going to find the elements that are typically found in dirt. You are not finding the metallic form. You are finding minerals that are made from those metals, like feldspar, granite, bauxite, or aluminosilicates. It's just regular dirt.
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Mick West

Staff member
This is all material that has been covered before, however it's a topic that keeps coming up, so I decided to make a more focussed post with a (hopefully) clear infographic explaining things. That way when it comes up on social media I can just post the infographic and the link, and don't have to type out the same explanation over and over.


Staff member
An example I like to use is a regular house brick, made of a mixture of sand (silica) and clay (alumina). Such a brick is typically 20-30% alumina by weight.

Alumina is Al2​O3​, which means it is roughly 53% aluminium by weight.
(Al mass = 27, O mass = 16, total mass = (27 x 2) + (16 x 3) = 102, therefore proportion of Al = 54 / 102)

So if you took a bit of brick dust and analysed it using the same methods, you'll find something like 10 to 15% pure aluminium, i.e. 100,000 to 150,000 ppm.

Mick West

Staff member


Senior Member.
There's also the issue for tests for Al3+ ions in acidic soil, I think that might confuse people though, so I'll only add that to the man post if it's seems like a common objection.

Some previous discussion touching on that:


There is a large misconception in internetland, on what and how labs test for AL in soil samples.
I see no problem trying to explain it farther, or better or clearer.
Adding info or describing it different ways helps.
Also, with a history of explanation, it's harder for people to say "science is changing it's definition" (of the results).
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Senior Member.
When I first started investigating "chemtrails" years ago,
I thought 'why not collect the city street runoff, and test that.'
I quickly realized that the city has a plethora of chemicals in say, storm drains. So that test would not be useful, as the sources could not be verified, or a baseline established.

The more dense a human population area is, you will undoubtedly find more pollution .......aka, added not-natural elements to that landscape, aka contamination.
Humans take elements from one area, and move them to another. "It's what we do".

Here's a "real-time" MAP for air-quality pollution. (prevailing winds should be accounted for)

Maps for for soil/ground contamination are usually very specific, and that's a good thing, and there are many.
Here's one place to look... https://www.usgs.gov/science-explorer-results?es=contamination


I always found this aspect of chemtrail claims to be ridiculous and devoid of any rational understanding of the Earths crust.

In 1970 i was taught that the upper 5-50 miles of the Earth’s crust was called SIAL as it mostly consisted of silicates and aluminium minerals.

Demonstrating the presence of one of the core constituents of the crust on top of the crust (in water, soil etc.) seems to be a rather pointless exercise. What would you expect.


Senior Member.
I always found this aspect of chemtrail claims to be ridiculous and devoid of any rational understanding of the Earths crust.
The point here is that chemtrail believer's conclusions are drawn without regarding the actual test principle, which is understandable.

In my experience, it's not too hard to explain this in an illustrative way. I usually refer to clay as being made from aluminum and oxygen, and how plasma spectrometry always separates the building blocks of stuff.
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Mick West

Staff member
In my experience, it's not too hard to explain this in an illustrative way. I usually refer to clay as being made from aluminum and oxygen, and how plasma spectrometry always separates the building blocks of stuff.

I tried to make it really simple in the top image. The test finds atoms.


Senior Member.
I tried to make it really simple in the top image. The test finds atoms.
The element/compound visualization is excellent. However, the focus on an EPA standard designation is probably a bit less useful. I know it's referring specifically to the notorious Shasta tests, but AFAIK the designation does not show up on other lab result that are available.

In my explanations I'm talking more generally about plasma spectrometry as the usual test method.
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