Type of soap for vibratory tumbler

Hi all. I have a Raytech vibratory tumbler…LOVE!! And I don’t want to use the soap suggested because it contains cancer causing substances (we deal with enough crazy substance in our field, can I have a non-confrontational soap for my tumbler please?:joy:) Anyway, I read tons of posts and decided on Ivory soap. I can see, however, that this could become a headache. I recently detected a very slight film on my jewels (could be that I used too much soap, but, a film is going to happen no matter how much or little, I suspect). I’m sure it will only get more prominent the more I use the soap. I have read a couple of posts where blue Dawn was the soap of choice, and that the users had great results. So, I’m curious about what others use and swear by that’s not going to yuck up my tumbler or my jewels. Thoughts? Suggestions? Anyone swear by any particular soap?


are you also incorporating a fliw thru system to circulate your solution?…ie: a bucket, pump, hoses, riser for oump to elevate it above the sediment…?


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Julie has a good question, I don’t have a pump or hose system for my tumbler. Most people that I’ve read or heard use blue Dawn, any Dawn will do, it doesn’t leave a residue, it’s what I use and it’s great. Blue Dawn is more powerful than your standard Dawn, it removes substances, grease, film, dirt, grime, any cleaning or polishing compounds you’ve used on your pieces, etc. So the thing about Ivory, Dial, etc., they cause really bad soap scum buildup, especially the bar soap versions. Like bad. Great soap for the body, not so great for your tumbler. They have a lot of junk in them that’s meant to deposit substances and moisturizers onto your skin. I use Dial bar soap for washing up. When it causes soap scum buildup in my sink, you know what I use to get rid of it? Blue Dawn lol. There are tumbler solutions out there on the market that aren’t so caustic, but honestly Blue Dawn seems to be everyone’s go-to that I’ve personally heard of, and it works really well for me. Not a lot, mind you, you don’t want a bunch of bubbles, they just use a very little amount because, again, Blue Dawn is more powerful.


Oooooh, not at the moment, but my machine has the capability, so, I will look into it! Thank you for this.

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Thank you for the confirmation. I am on my way to get some blue Dawn. I think I’ll run the machine without jewels to get rid of any scum that may be in there (I don’t think it’s bad enough for flat Coke at this point). In school we just used a capful of the industrial soap, so, I’m assuming the amount may be the same. I’ll stick to Dawn. It’s easier (and cheaper) than industrial soap, and I won’t worry about chemicals being absorbed into my skin. When I read about the hazards of industrial soap for tumbling, I thought of allllll of those days I plunged my hands into the school tumbler without a thought. Ugh. THANK YOU. Your advice is fabulous!

all soaps will scum in hard water. Soaps are medium free fatty acids. Soap scum is calcium and magnesium in hard water being chelated by the acid end of the fatty acid. Detergents, like Dawn won’t scum. Detergents are very similar to shampoos. They can be cationic, anionic or neutral…most of the ingredients in Dawn are the same as in shampoos like sodium lauryl sulfate, an anionic detergent. Unless you are using highly softened water devoid of calcium and magnesium or distilled water, you will inevitably get soap scum… avoid using soap. Ajax is cheaper than Dawn and is just as effective.

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You know, I didn’t think to mention that, I do use distilled water in my tumbler just because it seems like a good idea. The tap water where I live and work actually has arsenic in it, and I drank it for seven years and wondered why I was sick as a dog and almost on my deathbed. The doctors I visited endlessly apparently never bothered Googling my symptoms because when I finally figured out all the different symptoms I had were connected and typed them all into Google TOGETHER, the first hit was ‘arsenic poisoning.’ Ugh. Arsenic is also really common in the top soil where I live. Seven years of doctors and specialists, and they never figured it out. Arsenic is really bad to build up in your cells, bones, and really loves to hang out in different parts of the brain. So I’m going to be full of arsenic for the rest of my life, and who knows what cancer that’ll cause later down the road. Anyway, that’s an aside, I keep distilled water around now and use it for everything (including drinking) so it probably does make a big difference in your tumbler, washing up your pieces, stuff like that. I haven’t even tried tap water.

WOW! hope you’re back to good health…this is off the topic but are you on a private well, private water system or municipal/public. water testing services are usually avaiable thru private companies or local/state water testing labs. As levels are particularly high in dry areas with a large concentration of As in soils derived from As containing minerals that weather out of certain types of rocks… Areas near old mines are often contaminated as As is oxiduzed out of sulfides and leach into the water table…where there is pyrite, there is going to be arsenic.
Physicians unless specialists who are looking for the underlying cause of a specific problem, are generally not looking for heavy metal toxicity asd being a potential cause of symptoms… .

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In the past rice farmers used pesticides that contained arsenic. It persists in the soil, so today all forms of rice (rice syrup, rice milk, etc.) contain arsenic. Best avoided or limited.

Neil A


Thank you! Things have improved a bit since I quit drinking the poisonous water. I actually live in the middle of a decently sized city, probably about a million if you consider the surrounding suburbs that have been eaten up by the city. I don’t trust what Google says about our population, though. It was about a million 20 years ago before they legalized marijuana and everybody and their grandmother moved here. Google quotes a much lower population, but our infrastructure literally cannot support the number of people who have swarmed this state since the legalization of marijuana, the roads are constantly bumper-to-bumper and congested now, and it definitely wasn’t that way 20 years ago when people said we have about a million people here so I don’t know, but that’s beside the point, I could get the city to come out and test the water, but I have a deep distrust of them because I’ve heard of them testing water, finding arsenic in the water, and doing crazy things like condemning the home so you have nowhere to live and can’t sell it for a profit anymore to buy somewhere else to live. I don’t know if that’s true or if they would do that, but I also have no desire to find out either. The arsenic content isn’t enough to hurt you if you just bathe in it, brush your teeth even, do your dishes and laundry, but it is enough to hurt you if you continually ingest it so we just drink and use distilled water for drinking and cooking now and keep our mouths shut. There has been a lot of really bizarre and messed up things happening with our local government that makes me not trust them and not want to interact with them if I can avoid it at all. I don’t know, things just seem… untrustworthy. Like avoid at all costs if you can. In my previous life 15 years ago I got a Masters in Public Administration, which is basically an MBA for the second and third sectors (government and nonprofits). That combined with the stuff I hear in our local news and rumors going around make me really suspicious of the city, county, and the state. I really don’t know what they would do, but they don’t really seem like reliable or benevolent institutions with some of the stunts they’ve been pulling. If even half of it is true, it’s not good. But anyway, what annoys me is that arsenic is very common in this state so arsenic poisoning is very common, but the doctors couldn’t figure out I had arsenic poisoning for seven years. Actually they never figured it out, I did, and I tested the tap water and found arsenic to confirm my suspicions. I’m positive I’m not the only patient coming in with the symptoms I had, seems like they would be aware it was a problem and what it was? I’m not a chemist or a doctor, I had no idea what I was doing, I was just trying to figure out why I was horribly sick all the time, and I managed to figure it out so why couldn’t they? I kept coming in for the same things over and over and apparently all they had to do was type my symptoms into Google. I didn’t realize all the different symptoms I had were connected so that delayed me figuring it out. I don’t know. I have a new doctor now, she seems better than the last one, I’m doing a bit better, and hopefully me and my whole family won’t get cancer so I guess everything is fine now lol

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A surfactant - like the no spots products for dishwashers - helps the water sheet off and take the soap deposits with it. Does need a rinse though.

not only arsenicals but also mercury… mercury poisoning happened when people ate wheat and corn for planting… Paris green was a standard antifungal wood rot preservative and insecticide…very high in arsenates…low grade chronic poisoning of populations were unknown, even though acute toxicity was…thank God we know better today… but today’s technology is producing substances like microplastics for which we have no idea of what the chronic toxicity might be over a generation.,…a lot of it is simply unavoidable as it’s ubiquitous… worldwide.

glad that you’re much better… heavy metals, particularly in the water is a ubiquitous problem, throughout the western US… whenever there are sulfides in the rock, there’s some arsenic… home wells are particularly at risk…arsenic in the form of arsenate salts are highly mobile in ground water…

For large cities and medium size ones, however, there’s little excuse for heavy metals being in the municipal water supply… the EPA mandates regular testing and amelioration of toxic chemicals in the water supply… there are many techniques that are economic that can adsorb and remove arsenates. Neglect due to the lack of funding is really at the root of the problem… the Flint Michigan lead poisoning scandal was due to ancient lead water pipes…it took many sick people to bring about even initial attempts to replace the lead pipes… no money equals no health… unfortunately, that’s the equation today…

detergents are surfactants and do not form soap scum…they are formulated not to do so… hard water is to blame…very hard water will still cause detergents to scum…it’s the calcium that binds with soaps that cause scum… I have a water softener and it helps a lot… not only with dishes but taking a shower… you get spoiled with soft water after a while… hard water doesn’t leave you feeling clean…

I started looking into the issue about how arsenic could be in our water. So there’s a lot of sheet rock where we live in the top soil, and it likes to move over time. It’s such an issue that we have special building codes here to account for the movement of the sheet rock, homes and buildings have to be built in such a way that they can withstand the sheet rock moving constantly. But the problem is, say they put in water pipes in the ground and it’s all good and safe. Over time as the sheet rock moves, a pocket of arsenic, being very common in our top soil as well, can open up next to the pipes somewhere along the line of the pipes bringing the water into your house past the point where the city filtered the water. And arsenic is really bad to seep into other metals so it leeches into the pipes. It’s not really the city’s fault, they’re filtering the water. It’s not really the fault of those who put the pipes in initially because the arsenic wasn’t there initially. But the movement of the ground causes it to happen anyway and then bam you’ve got arsenic in your tap water. Evidently that’s usually the scenario that happens around here when someone ends up with arsenic poisoning, a pocket of it opened up somewhere near the pipe on the way to carrying water into their home and they started being poisoned with arsenic. I haven’t heard of mercury poisoning around here, but I could see how it would be a very similar situation with the arsenic and could easily happen that people end up with mercury poisoning. I’m starting to understand now why so many people only drink bottled water and won’t drink tap water.

My father uses a water softener in his water, and when I visited him it drove me insane. It’s like… it feels like you’re not getting the soap off. Like you put soap on your hands and go to wash your hands and you rinse… and rinse… and rinse… and omg why do my hands still feel slimy like they’ve got soap on them?!?! I thought it was the soap they used, like you just can’t get the stuff off. I finally asked him about it and he started laughing and said no it was the water softener, and I was like how can you even tell when you’ve got the soap off?? It just feels slimy to me, it drove me nuts staying in his place. In our water, you can tell when the soap is gone and you’re done rinsing, but in soft water it just continues feeling slimy like there’s still soap there.

Sorry, Dana, but I’m having a hard time believing that arsenic in the ground is making its way through the side of a metal pipe and into the drinking water inside it. Arsenic is often a problem in wells, and the arsenic in tainted water can be concentrated in the layers of corrosion inside a pipe, but as long as the source of water is arsenic-free and the pipes are intact, I don’t think this is really something to worry about. Here’s an article on the subject: Arsenic and Old Pipes - First Aid Mart Official Blog | FirstAidMart.com

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By sheet rock, I assume you mean shale or slate. these rocks usually are not arsenic bearing but some are… if they formed in a closed basin where igneous rocks bearing arsenic weathered to form the shale or slate, the rock could have abnormally high arsenic content. Slate is heat and pressure changed shale but it will still have the original arsenic content… If it’s not a city wide problem with every household on city water being affected, then it wouldn’t be a city water problem, but random household one with infiltration of arsenic into the water, then it could be the pipes leading from the city water main… something like you suggested…however, that too would be hard to explain since pipes are pressurized and will lead clean water out and not leak arsenic laden ground water in… the arsenic would enter leaky sewer pipes… City water is generally not treated for heavy metals nor dissolved solids… it would be cost prohibitive to do so… water is filtered through fine sand beds to remove particulates and some bacteria, and chlorinated to kill the rest…including viruses…

Your father’s soft water is too soft… Our aquifers that supply city water is limestone. The water is very hard… soap scum sticks, and it’s impossible to feel clean after a shower… we have gone thru two water softeners in 30 years and have started on the third last year… titrating the softness is tricky… usually the people that install them will test the water for hardness and then set the water softener to match, My experience has been that setting the hardness at what is measured is too soft. Too soft water makes the soap stick to your skin and takes a lot of rinsing and scrubbing to remove it… it’s slimy and miserable…setting the softening to be one or two grains per gallon less than what the hardness measures still can be too soft…most of the time, that’s too soft too but setting it down another notch will revert to being too hard… most systems do have a by pass valve that can be cracked open and let hard water mix in… I finally got the balance just right but it took a while… the hot water tank is full of too soft water, and unless you are willing to waste all of the energy it took to heat a full tank of water, by draining it, waiting for it to be used up takes a week for two people… this is off the topic entirely but there’s a solution that isn’t too hard for every household problem… except for system wide heavy metal toxicity… only special filters that chelate heavy metals and bind them in place will work for than… They are expensive and require regular changing and are hard to find…ordinary filters won’t unless the water is softened before passing thru… they will end up chelating calcium and magnesium and get exhausted quickly… water softeners do NOT remove heavy metals… Brita filters contrary to popular belief do nothing either to remove heavy metals nor hardness.


something about …base…alkaline…saponification…like how bleach leaves your hands slippery


You definitely know more about this stuff than I do. I honestly don’t know if it’s shale or slate. From what I understood, it’s not that there’s arsenic in the sheet rock itself but that the constant movement of the sheet rock will open up places where arsenic is in the ground? I think? I’m not sure. Basically I just started looking into this and reading about it trying to figure out why I was sick, asking around, and this is just stuff I’ve randomly read and heard from people who are natives to this area, but I really have no idea myself about any of this stuff. The only thing I know for sure is that there’s arsenic in our water, and I know because I got an arsenic test and tested it myself and had symptoms of arsenic poisoning. That’s about it lol. As for the how’s and why’s and whatfors, I have not a single clue lol. I would also stake a claim that arsenic is really common in this area just because I ran across a lot of sites saying that it’s a big problem, so I think I can say that part is probably true. But as for everything else, I have no verification of anything really. It’s really unfortunate that our tap water is contaminated because this area is renowned for having the best and cleanest tap water in the country. Based on other places I’ve lived and visited, I can say that’s really probably true. The tap water here is great… except when it’s got arsenic in it =(

without know the geology and chemistry of the rocks, I can’t really comment… shales in general are weak and a lousy place to build houses on… the ground does shift downhill slowly by soil creep and foundations get cracked… it’s a major problem where I live. opening up holes underground from shifting could lead to pockets where arsenic gets concentrated by leaching. Aquifer tapping into heavy metal containing rock ruins the water. we also have low levels of radon contamination from traces of uranium in the shales…it accumulates in poorly ventilated basements.

Fixing your father’s soft water problem is going to be a lot easier… I’ve adjusted and readjusted mine 4 times to get water that is neither slimy nor scratchy hard… “squeaky clean” is still hard water residue… it wouldn’t feel squeaky if it weren’t… too soft is no good either, slimy and a ton of scrubbing and rinsing to get rid of the soak itself, it’s soap and not scum that sticks onto skin oil… the user’s manual should tell you how to adjust the water softness… however, it only works half of the time… cracking open a by pass valve works the best once the softness is set… it lets some hard water into the system…adjusting the amount of bypass water is far easier than trying to set and reset the hardness. The trouble nowadays is that the user’s manual no longer comes with the appliance, you have to print in online off the manufacturer’s website…everything is now a self-service economy… so much for the “service” part of the service economy. Calling the merchant/installer of the softener is going to cost bucks…Mine was still under a one year service warranty, but I figured out how to adjust it myself. The system they had installed was complicated but uses very little salt and is very efficient… the online service manual was 150 pages long!!!