View Full Version : Tarnish in the Tumbler - Help!

09-25-2004, 08:20 PM
I finally made headpins and clasps and popped them in the tumbler with a drop of dish detergent and voila--Everything came out black!

The silver polished up fine but what do I do with the stainless steel shot to avoid this problem the next time? Can it be saved?

I can't think of anything I did any differently -- except that I used flux on the headpins and it was new pickle, but I rinsed the pins off before I put them in the tumbler.

Any help would be appreciated!


09-25-2004, 08:46 PM
If you are using staioless steel shot, dry it completely immediately, before it corrodes and becomes worthless. You might want to add a little mineral oil to the shot (and mix it in well, coating every piece of shot) to retard damage until you can get proper soap. Detergent is not a good soap for steel shot.

There are special soaps for tumbling, there is also a shot cleaner called "Sunsheen Shot Cleaner", both available from Rio Grande.
Rio Grande's phone number is 1-800-545-6566
Another supplier of Tumbler Soap is Gesswein.


09-25-2004, 10:13 PM
This happened to me last spring - we discussed here - there is also a great link to Barries' tumbling silver 101 in this thread - hope this helps :D

09-25-2004, 10:34 PM
Thanks for referring my notes Tam! The first thing I can say is get rid of the 'detergent'! You want to use a 99 99/100% pure SOAP! That will give you the best finish. Good luck!

09-27-2004, 09:09 PM
Stainless steel shot does not rust. It will however tarnish from Silver/black antiquing liquid or whatever tarnish is from the silver. You can clean this with Super Sunsheen Burnishing Compound from Rio-Grande and just tumble the shot in clean water and the super sunsheen and it should clean up the shot. Throw away liquid and start all over. This is a great liquid for cleaning your silver items. Steel shot will rust and you have to dry and not leave in water or it will rust. It's worth the extra money to buy the stainless shot instead. Iona

09-28-2004, 02:39 PM
Thanks, everyone, for all your help. I just got back from the store with Coke to clean the shot--I got smart and bought 16 oz. bottles instead of 2 liters, which gets funky before I can use it all. I also got Ivory soap bars, so I'm all set to get back to work.

Thanks again,


10-02-2004, 09:51 AM
Here's a follow-up:

The Coke worked well ... with advice from my friend Laura (after I'd stirred the fresh bottle and gotten the stinkin' sticky stuff everywhere) to leave the bottle open for at least FOUR minutes, to breathe, prior to stirring AT ALL ...

I bought some of the burnish stuff from Rio because I hear it will do two things at once, help with the polishing of the silver and keep the shot clean.

Also, I have extremely acidic water (eats all the non-PVC plumbing fixtures), so I'm going to use bottled water from now on.

I need more shot, too; apparently the tumbler should be half-full with shot.

That's everything I learned about tumbling!