Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Everything in tumbler is copper plated!

Hi, I hope there is some solution to this other than me sanding down
all of the pieces I had in my tumbler. I thought all of the pieces
were sterling. Maybe one or two were questionable. Well, when I went
to get the pieces out all of the them were a nice shiny copper
plate. Please help. Is there some ‘easy’ way I can fix this? Thank
you in advance, Jules

Hi Jules, I’ve had this happen to me too…the weird thing is,it just
seems to occur even though I’ve done everything as normal with the
tumbler…but here’s what I do when it happens…

All the copper plated stuff, I generally pickle again until the
copper stain goes away,then throw away that batch of pickle.Clean out
the tumbler barrel very thoroughly and rinse all the shot in a bicarb
solution.Use only distilled water in the barrel,try tumbling a piece
of scrap ,and see if it gets plated…if it does,…get some more shot
and dispose of the old stuff…if it doesn’t, you’re clear ,but use
distilled water in the barrel, make sure your tumbling
soap/detergent is alkali,not ph neutral or acidy( I always use really
cheapo washing up liquid), and ensure that you rinse all pickle
residue from your pieces before they go into the tumbler. I haven’t
yet figured out why stuff suddenly gets copper plated, but the above
remedies and precautions are what work for me…my theory is that
the shot is getting contaminated somehow and a kind of plating
environment is being created in the tumbler…pickle residue,
chlorine in water, acidy detergent, ah yes also tumbling Indian or
Thai silver with sterling I suspect has been the culprit sometimes…

I should really like to hear from anyone who has a definitive answer
to the cause of this problem,because it is a pain in the culo when it

Steve Holden

Well, when I went to get the pieces out all of the them were a nice
shiny copper plate. 

G’day; Try putting one of the pieces in either liver of sulphur or
lime sulphur from a garden shop. This will produce a coat of black
sulphide on both copper and silver. Now, after washing well, place
the piece in warn pickle. If it is copper, it will appear copper
coloured. If it is silver or sterling, it will come out of the
pickle silver coloured

Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ

Jules - I was waiting for someone with more experience to answer but
is there any chance you had pickle mixed in with the tumbling
solution and the steel shot so as to cause a copper plating on your
pieces? Have you tried removing with a 50/50 solution of hydrogen
peroxide and pickle? It might be worth a try. Sheridan Reed