if there is anything you would recommend using instead of white
diamond which is so toxic
First time I’ve ever seen white diamond compound referred to as “so
White diamond tripoli does indeed contain crystaline silica, at
least according to Rio’s MSDS sheet, and that isn’t good to breath.
But normally, one worries about that stuff if it’s in a form where it
can become easily airborne and be breathed in. This is certainly the
case with casting investment, where the dry powder easily can drift
around in air currents when disturbed, or released when quenching a
flask, which is why respirators or proper ventillation is so
important when dealing with casting investment.
But casting investment, once wet with water to a slurry, doesn’t
present the danger, since it doesn’t then become airborne.
And white diamond tripoli isn’t used as a dry fine powder likely to
become airborne. It’s mixed thoroughly with wax binders. These not
only help adhere the stuff to polishing wheels, but also mean the
particles that might be thrown off a wheel are much less likely to be
the dry tiny bits capable of being carried on a breeze. Instead, it’s
more likely to be larger particles composed of both silica particles
and the wax binder. That all means heavier. It gets everywhere in use
if you don’t have a dust collector, but it only takes reasonable
care to avoid inhaling the stuff. A simple N95 respirator is all you
need, and that’s if you don’t have a decent dust collector on your
So while I understand the assumption that white diamond could be
toxic (crystaline silica, inhaled chronically over time is one cause
of silicosis, but it’s not actually poisonous. It’s the long term
lung damage from chronic exposure that’s the worry), I’m wondering if
perhaps you’re not overstating the state of affairs just a little. No
polisher I’ve ever met has gone out of his/her way to warn anyone
away from white diamond to any greater degree than any other
But, if you’d like to avoid white diamond, use brown tripoli. That’s
not crystaline silica, but diatomacous earth. Also a silica, but in a
different form. Larger particles, even less likely to become airborn.
Or use one of the several polishing compounds based on alumninum
oxide instead of silica based compounds. These normally are sold for
specialty purposes, such as polishing platinum, and are not as safe
around softer stones (they’ll take the facet edges off many stones if
you’re not careful). But they’re not silica, if that’s your concern.
Gesswein sells a line of these compounds I like a lot.
Frankly, though, rather than avoiding white diamond compound, I’d
suggest instead taking whatever steps you need to take so that you
won’t be inhaling ANY polishing agents. If polishing "at the bench"
with a flex shaft, that usually means a decent respirator. The simple
3M disposable N95 types are rated for this type of use. Or set
yourself up with a decent polishing setup with a dust collector, face
shield, etc, so the stuff doesn’t get out of the machine.
Here’s a simple informal test to determine your risk. After
polishing, look in the mirror. If your face is still clean, you’re
probably doing things right. If you’re covered head to toe in
polishing grime, or if just your face is dirty with it, well, then
get the respirator. And while we’re at it, if you’re polishing in a
manner that gets your face full of the compound, then don’t forget
eye protection too…