I recently put some sterling silver in a tumbler with stainless
steel shot, some water and a drop of Dawn Ultra. After about six
hours, I dumped it all out, the water was black and all my shot and
sterling silver pieces and this black gummy sticky film on it. The
only way I could get it off my shot and Sterling was to use Lacquer
After it was all washed out, my silver had a dull polished finish on
it rather than a bright white finish.
I thought it might have something to do with the soap, but this is
the second time this has happened and I used different soap each
Here's what happened Richard -
The bit of Dawn isn't enough to clean the work. - Use something
intended for the job - there are many - my favorite is Rios sunsheen
burnishing compound liquid. Mix up a gallon so you get the
proportions correct - liquids are easy to measure. then put your shot
in a clean tumbler with clean shot. put in just enough of the
prepared liquid that you can see it just below the surface of the
shot. Run for 30 to 45 minutes - no more.
Anything longer damages the surface of your silver.
You could have put in dirty work, or have a barrel that is
deteriorating to cause the slime. Use a can of regular coke, no
bubbles, to clean the shot, barrel and work. Run for 30 to 45
minutes. Rinse and you are good to go.
If you feel it necessary (and I don't know why) to run for a long
time, stop every hour, open the barrel, rinse, clean, add new liquid
and run for another hour.
Your silver looked dirty because you beat the dirt into the surface
of the silver. Don't run without checking what's happening. Check
your barrel - if it is slimy or developing scale or surface marks on
the interior - you need a new one.
And the book on Tumble Finishing Handmade Jewelry available from
Frei, Rio and Gesswein might be a good investment. Then you will have
some notion what's going on.
6 hours? Silver shouldn't take more than 20 minutes in the tumbler
with stainless shot.
Is your tumbler equipped with a water circulating pump. Is the water
flowing through the tumbler?
Any chance you have a tumbler barrel from that big discount Freight
storewith the super low prices? I have talked to a few people who
have experienced the insides flaking and dissolving off and leaving
a mess on the shot and the metal pieces. There was no "fix" for
their problem; they had to buy new barrels.
It amazes me how many people still can't get tumbling right. I use
920 compound simply for I have old carbon steel shot. I usually
tumble for 45-90 minutes depending on jobs. I use clear plastic
barrels. What I have noticed is if the work is dirty or greasy, it
fuc% up my steel shot and barrel, so all metals have to be cleaned
with a metal cleaner and degreased before it can go into my tumbler.
I have a student who loves to tumble but her metals fucks up my
steel shot to high heaven. She has to really clean her metals before
it goes into my tumbler. My personal favorite is Super Sunsheen
burnishing compound and Strat - o- sheen a close second. Joy
I just learned that 30- 45 minutes is all you need. It was clean
water fresh water in a little drum 5x4.5 in. I was thinking it might
be the rubber too. I bought it last year new from the jewellery
supply company where I live, I can only assume it was a good drum.
I have used it maybe three or four times since I bought it.
It was suggested that I clean everything with flat coke and try
again with the proper solution from Rio.
This is the second time this has happened to me.
Will try again.
The only time I had this problem was when I used tap water (we have
high chlorine content and hard water). Since I switched to distilled
water I have not seen this happen. 30-45 mins seems to be plenty of