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Samples for dating need to be converted into a form suitable for measuring the content; this can mean conversion to gaseous, liquid, or solid form, depending on the measurement technique to be used.Before this can be done, however, the sample must be treated to remove any contamination and any unwanted constituents.However, if the bone was heated under reducing conditions, it (and associated organic matter) may have been carbonized. Shells from both marine and land organisms consist almost entirely of calcium carbonate, either as aragonite or as calcite, or some mixture of the two.Calcium carbonate is very susceptible to dissolving and recrystallizing; the recrystallized material will contain carbon from the sample's environment, which may be of geological origin.Wood contains cellulose, lignin, and other compounds; of these, cellulose is the least likely to have exchanged carbon with the sample's environment, so it is common to reduce a wood sample to just the cellulose component before testing.
For burnt bone, testability depends on the conditions under which the bone was burnt.
The proteins in burnt bone are usually destroyed, which means that after acid treatment, nothing testable will be left of the bone.