Unless you are buying pre-washed stones you may find you need to clean yours. You will want to complete the washing/drying step prior to any art work or labeling. It makes anything you apply adhere better.
I use plain water and a scrub brush. I wet the stones and scrub any loose dirt or sand off. I then us a paper towel to dry all surfaces of the stone. On warm sunny days I then place them in the sun to naturally heat up and dry completely.
Depending on the composition and moisture content there are some things concerning safety if you attempt to speed up drying time. The good old sun is your best and safest course of action.
Many are drying their washed stones in their kitchen oven. At higher temperatures than I consider safe. Since water boils at 212°F/100°C, stones heated above that temperature have the potential of exploding. Anyone that has sat around a campfire and had a rock explode knows exactly what to be concerned about.
In the case of your kitchen oven you might avoid personal injury, but it might take out an expensive glass door or damage your expensive oven. All things to be aware of.
In most cases I let mine dry naturally in the hot summer sun. But since painting is a nice rainy day, or winter time project. That might prompt you to speed things along.
So far I have found I use 250°F/121°C for 45-60 minutes. That seems to work OK. Let them cool naturally before handling. You might want to maintain the temperature below 200°F to be completely safe.
I started using a cheap counter top oven in case. If you notice any popping or cracking noises dial down the temperature. I am sure composition such as porous sandstone, verses some dense material, is more susceptible to popping due to trapped moisture expanding. Also whether the rock was dry when found. Or was in water for who knows how long? If you soak them in a bucket of water, or pick them from a wet area, I would proceed with caution.
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