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Tumbler turning silver black


#1

I’ve had a recent problem with my tumbler. I’m doing nothing
different than I’ve ever done in the past. Up till a week ago it was
fine. I’m using stainless steel shot, Palmolive liquid and water.
For some reason, the jewelry is turning black. Any thoughts?

Janice


#2

Hi Janice,

I'm using stainless steel shot, Palmolive liquid and water. For
some reason, the jewelry is turning black. Any thoughts? 

It sounds like your tumbler & shot need a good cleaning.

I also use a tumbler & stainless shot for tumbling. Periodically, I
rinse dump any liquid in the tumbler & put in 2-3 oz of water & some
Draino (lye, sodium hydroxide). Put e ld on the tumbler & let it run
for about an hour. After that I dump the liquid down the drain & put
the shot in a the to rinse it under warm water. While the shot is
draining, I clean out the tumbler with a paper towel.

When I’m satisfied the tumbler is clean, I put the shot back in &
the tumbler is ready to go for tumbling. I don’t add any soap or
other items to the tumbler until I’m ready to tumble the next batch
of jewelry.

Dave


#3

Janice,

Try cleaning up your shot and barrel by tumbling it in sudsy ammonia
for a while, then rinsing well. See if this works. This info was
given to me by someone at Rio Grande a long time ago. It worked for
me.

David Luck
www.davidluckjewelry.com


#4

Janice,

I've had a recent problem with my tumbler. I'm doing nothing
different than I've ever done in the past. Up till a week ago it
was fine. I'm using stainless steel shot, Palmolive liquid and
water. For some reason, the jewelry is turning black. Any thoughts? 

I assume you’re using a Loretone (or equivalent) black rubber drum.
If this is the case then the Palmolive detergent is the problem.
Detergents dissolve the rubber drum leaving the black sticky coating
on your pieces. Why you haven’t had trouble until now would be the
real mystery.

Either use the Loretone burnishing compound made for the drums or
any other non-detergent burnishing compound. The old Ivory soap
flakes used to work fine but I can’t find them anymore.

No detergents!!

You may or may not have to replace the drum. Run it a time or two
with only a single, non-critical item in it and see how it does.

Les brown
L.F.Brown Goldwork


#5

There are many causes of dirty shot. You probably contaminated the
barrel with something on the jewelry if your water and soap source
are the same. Be sure to change your tumbling solution frequently in
the future.

Cleaning Barrel and Shot: If stainless steel shot becomes dirty (your
pieces just won’t shine up and actually get dirty during tumbling),
you can clean it by using a Coke bath. Rinse shot in strainer and
return to barrel. Barely cover shot with flat Coke (or other
non-carbonated mild acidic solution). Tumble for 15-30 minutes. Rinse
shot and barrel. Repeat if necessary. If jewelry is blackened, repeat
coke bath one more time with the jewelry in the barrel.

An ultrasonic cleaner may also clean the black off the jewelry.

Mary Ellin D’Agostino, PhD
www.medacreations.com


#6

When something like this happens to me, I use fast orange (it has
pumice) or some kitchen cleanser and run the shot by itself to clean
it. Change the water after half an hour, and tumble shot by itself
with Palmolive again for 15 or 20 minutes. I use only one drop of
soap in the tumbler. More just makes to much suds.

Richard Hart


#7

Janice,

I am betting your tumbler barrel is made of black rubber, right? The
one in our studio is. If so, limit your steel shot tumbling to 10-15
min. It shouldn’t require more time than that for a beautiful finish.
If you tumble for much longer than that, you are going to abrade off
the black rubber from the inside of the drum, and coat the jewlery
items you’re trying to polish with that black rubber.

Hope that helps…
Jay Whaley UCSD Craft Center


#8

Back when I used to use a tumbler (got tired of digging shot out of
pieces), if the water had been sitting in there for any length of
time, it would turn silver dull gray or black even with stainless
shot.

Where I teach locally, I’ve heard all kinds of things to explain the
problem. One theory is that Palmolive may have changed their formula
(ok, a possibility, I suppose). Another is that the Jax Silver
Blackener or liver of sulphur used on some pieces was not adequately
washed off prior to tumbling.

Best wishes,
Victoria

Victoria Lansford
http://www.victorialansford.com


#9

Janice - This is actually fairly common. I recommend that you open a
Coke and let it get flat. Then run it in your tumbler with your shot
for at least 20 minutes. Rinse until your water is clear and repeat
until the shot is completely clean and clear. From this point on you
will want to be careful about additives to your tumbler. Use
distilled water (if possible) and a pH neutral or slightly alkaline
soap in a small amount. Clean your items that you will tumble very
carefully before putting them into the tumbler. One of the culprits
that may be causing your black sludge is pickle residue on your items
degrading the barrel of the tumbler. Good luck :slight_smile:

Sandi Graves, Beadin’ Up A Storm
Stormcloud Trading Co (Beadstorm)
http://www.beadstorm.com


#10
I assume you're using a Loretone (or equivalent) black rubber
drum. If this is the case then the Palmolive detergent is the
problem. Detergents dissolve the rubber drum leaving the black
sticky coating on your pieces. Why you haven't had trouble until
now would be the real mystery. 

About 15 years of using Palmolive or Crystal dish soap for tumbling
with the same Lortone black rubber drums with stainless shot…but
only one or two drops. Interesting how people have different results
with the same products.

I used a Rio burnishing powder one time that made the biggest mess of
black gunk. Hard lesson to learn for me is to not mess with what
works when I hear of a better method.

Richard Hart


#11

Hi Janice

I've had a recent problem with my tumbler. I'm doing nothing
different than I've ever done in the past. Up till a week ago it
was fine. I'm using stainless steel shot, Palmolive liquid and
water. For some reason, the jewelry is turning black. Any thoughts? 

Do you have a black barrelled tumbler? It may be that your barrel
has reached the end of it’s life…and the rubber has begun to
decompose and deposit the gunk on your pieces…

Also I don’t know about using dish soap in the tumbler either- (I’ve
always used burnishing soap) it’s possible that the soap has an
ingredient that eats the rubber after repeated “scraping” of shot
and metal.

I would try to clean out the barrel extra well and rinse and strain
the shot as well as possible.( do this after every big tumbling run
as well) Then start again with a clean water/soap mixture with a new
piece of silver (one without the "black residue) and see how it
goes… If you end up with another black piece of silver it may be
time to buy a new barrel…

Hope this helps!-
Ciao- Maureen Brusa Zappellini (Tucson AZ)


#12

The old Ivory soap flakes used to work fine but I can’t find them
anymore Make your own flakes – buy Ivory bar soap and shave off a
few thin layers into your Lortone tumbler.

Judy Bjorkman