Storing Carbon steel 'shot'

G’day; You don’t really want your ‘shot’ to rust, do you? So;
When you’ve temporarily finished with your carbon steel shot,
wash it well under a running tap, containing it in a tea or
vegetable strainer. Put it in a small tray, large plate or
shallow bowl and move it around with a dry absorbent cloth or
paper tissue to at least partly dry it. Put it in a piece of
thin linen or cotton cloth like an old handkerchief held in a
suitably sized cup and ‘tie’ the top with several twists of a
rubber band or those little plastic bag ties. Buy some 'blue’
silica gel granules. This is an inexpensive drying agent
containing a cobalt indicator, which when dry is bright blue and
when damp is pink, and shouldn’t be too difficult to get, Don’t
let them push you off with the white granules (one can even buy
it in a tiny town like Nelson! Or try a laboratory supplier or
even a school lab) You will only need an ounce or two, and you
should pour it into a wide mouthed jar like an Age preserving jar
with an airtight screw top. Your steel balls won’t rust in this.
However, if they do show the first signs of rust, soak them for
a few minutes in Coca-Cola - or preferably a commercial rust
remover which contains phosphoric acid or sodium di hydrogen
phosphate (I believe ‘Coke’ contains that which is why it removes
rust) and follow that treatment by thorough washing and drying,
etc. When the ‘gel’ (it is in granules actually) starts to
lose it’s bright blue colour, pop it in the microwave or ordinary
oven for a few minutes, and it will lose moisture and go back to
bright blue ready for further use. You can recycle it many
times. Silica gel is quite harmless. But you don’t really need
to prove that by eating it unless you enjoy chewing broken glass.
By the way, the watch you wore for a few seconds under the
shower before you suddenly remembered it, and which now shows a
mistiness under the glass, can be revived by spending all night
in your silica gel jar. Pity it won’t dry drunks out, though.
Cheers, –

/ /

/ /
/ /__|\ @John_Burgess2
At sunny Nelson NZ

Being just a self taught hobbyist I have never had the pleasure
of using steel shot for mass finishing. Would one of the more
experianced ones give a short explanation as to its advantages
over ceramic media followed by rouge in walnut shells? Georgie

Why use steel shot and have to go to all that trouble? I don’t
have the time or the patience…I go the"big bucks" and buy
STAINLESS steel shot and…“no worries”. Indian jewelers supply
sell it at a good price. Try it…IT’S GREAT!!! Ph (800)545-6540
Good Luck Mary

Being just a self taught hobbyist I have never had the
pleasure of using steel shot for mass finishing. Would one of
the more experianced ones give a short explanation as to its
advantages over ceramic media followed by rouge in walnut
shells? Georgie 
  1. It’s a good deal faster, and it’s only one step. For either
    system, though, if you need a really good finish, you’ll need
    preliminary steps with cutting media before the ceramic or steel.
    but for simply brightening up something that’s gotton dingy or
    dulled, either in working on it or in wear and tear, often just
    an hour or two in a rotary tumbler with steel shot will be
    enough to make all the difference in the world…

  2. It causes a distinct surface burnishing/compacting effect,
    that makes castings, in particular, denser and harder at the
    surface. Reduced porosity prolems in the polish. This CAN,
    however, also damage some delicate details. Steel shot isn’t for

Peter Rowe

Another suggestion for drying carbon steel shot after it’s
poured into a shallow tray (preferably lined with an absorbent
paper towel): A hand-held hair dryer will get the shot dry in a
very short time. But store it with the silica gel anyway just to
be sure . (kinda like wearing a belt and suspenders). A special
thanks to you,John Burgess , for solving the problem of
misty-faced watches with silica
gel…Donna W.

Georgie-we found the steel shot to be a real pain. Even storing
as suggested, using the soap when vibrating it still rusted

We really like the rouge in walnut, but t can also be a pain
getting the little pieces of hull out of he finished pieces.
Have never tried ceramic. Raytec recommended the walnut because
we only use it to polish silver smithed items. We do not do
casting jb

J. Byers


Being just a self taught hobbyist I have never had the pleasure
of using steel shot for mass finishing. Would one of the more
experianced ones give a short explanation as to its advantages
over ceramic media followed by rouge in walnut shells? Georgie

Time. Lots and lots of it. :wink:

When I was just using the ceramic stuff followed by rouge, it
took me at least a day to get results. When I toss one of my
rings into the steel shot and go take a break, I can expect to at
least see an improvememt over the time it takes to have a cup of
coffee, and if I leave it for two or three hours it’s gorgeous.
It also seems to accelerate the process of conditioning
(hardening) the wire so that I don’t have to work it as much to
get the strength and firmness I need.

Loren Damewood

.The easiest way…

This is how we have stored our steel shot for over 25 years.

  1. buy oil of murphy’s soap.

  2. get a sealeable container …large tupper ware, or dunkin
    donuts bucket with a top … depends on how much steel shot you

  3. for the dunkin donuts bucket… use about 1/2 large coffee
    cup of soap to 1 to 2 gallons of water.

  4. pour your clean “to be stored shot” into the mix. leave it
    in this as long as you like. at least once a month stir it up .

  5. When you want to use your shot, get a large plastic strainer
    that sits on top of a second dunkin donuts bucket or make one by
    drilling 3/16 holes all over the bottom of a large plastic bowl
    that will fit the bucket.

  6. Pour the solution and shot through the strainer into the
    second bucket. (The solution in the second bucket is now
    reuseable to store your shot).

  7. Rinse the shot that is in the strainer with hot or cold
    water ( personal preference)in the sink.This will remove any oil
    of murphy soap residue on the shot.

  8. Use your clean shot with whatever burnishing soap you
    presently use.


  1. When emptying your shot ( with product in the shot), pour
    your items and shot into the large strainer, and rinse all of it
    with water in the sink. (You don’t want to reuse this water).

  2. Remove your items from the rinsed shot.

  3. pour the shot into the bucket with the Oil of Murphy’s soap
    and water.

This is the cheapest and fastest way to clean ,store , and
remove items from steel shot.

Try it and let me know what you think…
Daniel Grandi

Why don’t you just spread your damp, clean steel shot in a
baking pan, put it in the oven at 200 degrees for a couple
hours–guarantee it’ll be bone dry!–then cool it by turning oven
off and, when cool, putting in glass or any other airtight
sealable container? Rubbermaid containers seal air and water
tight, and are relatively inexpensive, compared to other items
we buy, including the steel shot. Sharon Holt


Has anyone tried Crystalcut from Crystalite Corp.? It is used
for water based lapidary blades to keep them from rusting. It is
a white powder that mixes with water, is non-toxic, non-oily, and
best of all fairly cheap. Try a lapidary supply place - it is a
fairly common material.

Cameron Speedie
Island Gem and Rocks

I store my carbon steel shot in a Rubbermaid plastic jar with a
plastic top. I make a very thick solution of Ivory soap and cover
the shot with the solution. I also add some ammonia to the
solution. I have had shot stored for the past 8 months with
absolutely no rusting. I think the thicker the soap solution
with the added use of ammonia helps keep the shot from rusting.


I have been using Gesswein’s “Burnishing Soap B - Liquid”
(#852-0875) for years and have never had a problem with my carbon
steel rusting. I rinse the shot every 3 or 4 times I use it and
then put about a tablespoon of the burnishing soap in my rotary
tumbler along with my work. When I’m not using the tumbler I
make sure there is enough liquid to cover the shot and cover it
with the lid. It sits on a shelf until the next time I need it.

The easier way!!!..

Live in Florida … Talk about humidy… I simply strain the
shot, wash the shot several times, place it on a towell and roll
it a bit… leave it out several days… place it in a sealed
container… no rust for about 1 year… but intend to start
using John’s drying agent idea… also like the idea for the
watches… thanks John