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Home Made Ionic / Ultrasonic Cleaner


I’ve gotten so many requests off list for this that I’ve
put up a quick and dirty web page with instructions. I’ll try to
pretty it up in the next few days.

Some of the respondents thought I was offering plans for a home made
ultrasonic. I wish. Maybe a dog whistle and a karaoke machine??

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind my fellow Americans that
if you don’t vote you have absolutely no right to complain about
what they do. I read that in Brazil they fine you for not voting.
Seems like a good policy to me.

John Flynn

although I won’t try making one, you did a nice job of explaining
and illustrating the process to build one. You compare your home
made ionic cleaner with using baking soda and aluminum foil. It
helps to add table salt to the baking soda and to use pretty hot
water. It still will probably not be as good as the ionic cleaner.

marilyn smith

Hey John, This is really cool!! I have no idea where to obtain the
"tantalum foil" - have never heard of it before. Care to enlighten
us about a source? I have a SpeedBrite and it’s a nifty piece of
equipment. So much tarnished sterling out there - so little time!

On another matter, I confess that I forgot to make my birthday
donation to Orchid. Maybe that’s a sign of age. So I take a cue
from John and urge you to make a donation to Orchid… buy one of
those lovely orchids or just SEND MONEY.

Judy in Kansas
Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 147 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944


Do your instructions need any alteration for those of us in 220V

Janet in Jerusalem

Do your instructions need any alteration for those of us in 220V


I think it would function the same. The work is being done by the 12
volt (plus or minus) DC current of the output side of the
transformer. Check the nameplate to be sure that it says “output
12V”. I assume a 9 volt output would also work. I just don’t have
one to test out.

John Flynn

    I assume a 9 volt output would also work. I just don't have
one to test out. 

Hi, John,

Unless I’m confused (always a possibility), you said in another post
that you anodize niobium. So you should be able to use your power
source for whatever output you want… right? I tried out using my
anodizer as an ionic cleaner by reversing the leads and setting it
to 10 volts. I don’t have the right cleaning solution yet, but it
didn’t do too badly in the same (TSP-NOT) solution I anodize in.
But, never having come across an actual dedicated ionic cleaner, I
don’t have any basis for comparison.

Incidentally, do I really need the specific Speedbrite solution for
ionic cleaning? Does anybody know what’s actually in it?

Anyone else who tries the anodizing power supply, please let me know
how it works out!


I made myself an ionic cleaner and I’m pretty impressed with it…
thanks John.

I used a straight-sided glass storage jar (bought for less than 1
UKP), thin stainless steel sheet (2 pieces recovered from old floppy
drives and overlapped to cover all round the jar) which were sprung
into place, and a piece of translucent white plastic mesh which is
sold in craft shops for children to learn to sew or embroider on
(another 1UKP). The power pack I’m using was from an old Sinclair
ZX80 computer and gives nominally 9V DC (13.7 volts open circuit) and
the solution is Hagerty Jewellery Cleaner. The initial results were
very encouraging - loads of bubbles and a lump of black tarnished
silver clean and bright in less than a minute (I kept looking at it
and putting it back until it seemed not to be getting any cleaner).
There were a few black flakes left in recessed areas on the surface
(the piece was an engraved pocket watch bezel - the part that holds
the glass) but these just rubbed off easily with a ‘silver cloth’.

I was initially slightly apprehensive as to whether this would work
but I can now see that it will be an integral part of my set-up!!

Oh, and Janet, I’m on 220volts in the UK - no problems so long as
the mains adapter you use is set for the right input voltage.

Best Wishes,
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

    I made myself an ionic cleaner and I'm pretty impressed with

Someone enlighten me, pos or neg to the tank?


I’m sure my anodizer would work as well. However, I have the old
mini anodizer from Reactive and no volt meter attached. Also,
because of space limitations I have to store my anodizing setup in
between sessions and haul it out and set it up every time I want to
use it. The 12 volt adapter is small and I can set it up very
quickly. I also treat my anodizing bath like holy water.

Above all else, this was just my curiosity getting the upper hand. I
already have two Speed Brites and didn’t really need another and I
hate to throw away something that I know still works.

I don’t understand the process well enough to say which electrolytes
would or wouldn’t work. I have just found that the Speed Brite
solution seems to work better than baking soda and/or washing soda
and/or dish detergent. Some one on the list mentioned that baking
soda works better if you add a little table salt. I haven’t had a
chance to compare that with the commercial product yet.


Positive to the tank, negative to the jewelry.

This forum definitely drives web traffic. My poor, neglected cob
web site normally gets 100 to 300 hits a day and I suspect most of
that is search engines doing their sniffing… When I put up that
page and posted it to the list I got 1,200 to 1,800 hits /day for
several days.

If any one is interested and missed the original post, the URL is

John Flynn

aaahhhhhh seems like this link is no longer active?

It appears so - the archive thread is 12 years old unfortunately.

Perhaps an existing Orchidian has something new to be said on the topic of home made ionic cleaners?

Not something I’ve thought much about, but I’d be interested!

Making a ultrasonic is a piece of cake.
Look for a acontainer made out of stainless steel.
Look on ebay -or anywhere else- for one of these

Make a wooden case to box it in and of you go.

Ionic not ultrasonic…

There is a thread on the difference between the technologies here.

Your link did not work for me.

Checked it again - it redirects you to an archived thread on the differences.

The far-and-away easiest cheapest way to make an ionic cleaner is from a
"wall wart"-- a wall-plugging charger or adaptor like we used to use for
phones, etc. Split the two wires and add alligator clips. Attach one to a
steel anode, the other to the jewelry piece and immerse them in a soap
solution. If bubbles arise from the work piece you have the polarity right,
if not, switch them.

I use TSP substitute, because that’s what I use to anodize titanium. My
anodizer works great as an ionic cleaner-- I just reverse the polarity. I
set it to 10 or 11 volts (it produces about 1 amp). Removes tarnish in
seconds without harming the polish; loosens other grime, like polishing
compound, so it is easier to wash off. So if you have been looking for an
excuse to buy an anodizing power supply, maybe this will do it for you. I
recently bought some cleaner specifically labeled for ionic cleaning but I
haven’t actually tried it, since my set-up works so well as is.