Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

White haze and spots on sterling after ultrasonic

Hello All,

Thank you for your help with my previous question on black spots
during tumbling.

The issue has been resolved. Special thanks to Judy Hoch.

Today I have a new question regarding ultrasonics and ultrasonic

My ultrasonic is the small Sonic (with heat)

My solution is Power 99 (non-acidic) diluted with water

My item is a die-struck, sterling silver disc, after Tripoli, and

I am just holding the piece in steamer tweezers, and swooshing it in
the ultrasonic a few times, then steaming it.

After the piece dries, (a die-struck, sterling silver disc) I am
noticing a white haze in the form of spots and splotches on the

I also noticed the same thing when I put some solution in water, and
let the piece soak for a brief minute.

Is my solution causing the problem? Is the solution very caustic to
sterling? My old solution got very concentrated and smelled like
ammonia so I have replaced it. I thought perhaps I was inadvertently
etching the piece. I don’t think there is any ammonia in my new

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

A common occurrence. Nix the steam, swish as briefly as possible in
the sonic. If you are using red rouge on silver, stop. Red leaves
pits. Use blue platinum.

I get that after the ultrasonic also and I do NOT use red rouge-
only Zam or Fabulustre. Could be from pieces vibrating together in
the ultrasonic. Solution: Use a pink polishing wheel on flex shaft to
touch up spots. Not a biggie…

Ruthie Cohen

Hi All;

That frosty look on silver coming out of the ultranic is due to the
cavitation process lifting open the surface of cast silver pieces.
Castings are not as dense as worked stock pieces, and with silver
especially, it’s almost impossible not to have some degree of
microporosity. Gold is too hard for the cavitation process to affect
the surface. You can burnish the surfaces prior to final finish and
minimize the problem somewhat. What I do is this: let the pieces soak
for a while in the sonic to loosen up the gunk, then submerge the
articles, one at a time, using rubber tipped tweezers/tongs and
swishing them around. Then steam them off and rub off any water spots
with a polishing cloth.

I’ve tried water soluble polishing compounds, but I found they didn’t
bring up a luster very well, they seemed to be a bit too greasy. If
you’re doing a lot of silver, you’ll want your sonic solution to be a
bit more highly concentrated to cut the greasy base used in polishing

David L. Huffman


(Sorry for the delayed reply)

Thank you, NeilTheJeweler, for your response. I shall try the blue
platinum rouge right away.

I am glad you mention that because the compounds seem to be another
one of my problems.

I am polishing a flat sterling silver disc.

I use a yellow treated buff with graystar first. I polish the back
and it gets nice and shiney. Then I polish the front and it gets nice
and shiney.

But, now the back has smudges from my fingers…which doesn’t all
seem to be coming off when I “swoosh” in the ultrasonic (just heated
solution for now, as I was afraid of the sonic until I heard back
from the orchid group).

There is often a slight shadowy won’t rub off, or scrub
off with a toothbrush…so then, I head back to the polisher…it is a
vicious circle

I am really trying to think everything through, but I am
struggling…it seems like it should not be this difficult…my friend
said “you are making it too hard”…but all I am trying to do is
polish the disc…

So then I started to follow the yellow treated/ graystar with a
tight weave muslin buff, to take off excess compound real quick on
the front and back. This seemed to be helping, but I just feel like
as the ultrasonic used normally works for many other people, so I
must be doing something wrong…the same thing happens with the red
rouge, but not as much…

I have tried loading the buff with more compound, loading it less,
using my buff rakes, working on my hand motions, etc.trying to find
the right feel/ balance/results…

May I ask why you suggest to nix the steamer?

(I just got a good deal on a used Reimer’s from a friend…I do like
the way it leaves the piece all nice and spotless…(not including the
white spots of course!) and I know what you mean, because if the
graystar smudges or rouge do not come off all the way in the
ultrasonic solution, the steamer isn’t going to remove/clean it
either. It seems like I just like the steamer to dry the piece
nicely…(kind of expensive just for that…but I got it, so.)

And, when there is the faint shadowy smudge left on the piece, then
I get a different kind of white haze…a cloudy, uneven ring around
the perimeter of the back of the disc. (which is slightly concave as
it is a die struck disc…) But by then, I am not sure where that
white cloudy haze is coming from…the ultrasonic? Or the steamer? I
know for sure the splotchy white haze ones came from the ultrasonic
pulse and extended submersion in the heated solution…which seems to
have stopped since I stopped using the pulse.

I am struggling…

Best Regards,

buff with graystar first 

I think that may be the core of your problem. Try using Zam alone or
Zam followed by the blue. Zam cuts alot faster than you might
suspect, yet leaves a pretty fine polish.

May I ask why you suggest to nix the steamer? 

Because especially with stuff like discs, which we tend to want a
mirror finish on, the steamer can seemingly ‘lift’ imperfections
right onto the surface. I couldn’t explain the technicalities of it,
I don’t know, but I do know what I have observed.

I have tried loading the buff with more compound, loading it less, 

general rule of thumb is…if the compound is loading up on the
piece you are not using enough compound, I know, sounds
counterintuitive. I haven’t raked my buffs in years(but then I don’t
do silver so much anymore).

One day it will just click for you and you’ll wonder why it ever
gave you such grief.

Hello Julie,

Without seeing your technique, it’s tough to speculate, though, I’ll
try. Firstly, I would suggest polishing with cotton gloves so you
don’t have to worry about removing fingerprints. And, I would also
suggest using a clean, unsewn fine muslin buff to remove the haze
after you polish and after compound removal.

See if that helps,

Jeff Herman

As mentioned, the finish on silver can be degraded by a steam
cleaner - one option is to try a lower pressure, or holding the item
further away. Or, you could try a different way of cleaning, so
washing soda, hot water and a soft nailbrush (depending on the kind
of finish you want; might scratch a high gloss).If it’s not the
steamer, then the ultrasonic itself might be vibrating left-over
particles of tripoli or rouge, effectively frosting small areas of
the metal. This can be reduced by pre-cleaning the item as above, or
making sure that there are no level surfaces for the particles to sit
on.A less likely possibility is that your ultrasonic is being
contaminated by something that strips left-over oxides when you are
trying to clean - eg. it’s too acidic. If it was that, you could
solve that by thoroughly pickling the item before polishing, even if
there are no visible oxides on it.


Thank you so much for your advice, I really appreciate it.

You mentioned that the compound streaks load up when the buff does
not have enough compound, So I am really going to focus on getting
that “swipe” just right…

I am also thinking maybe my buffer (3450rpm) may be heating up the
piece too quickly also, as I am staying on the piece for too long
overall as I keep trying to remove stuff that keeps showing up!
(compound streaks).

I am looking for a good used Baldor or Red Wing 2 speed (3450/ 1750
rpm) polishing lathe if anyone is looking to get rid of an extra one
or something…let me know!

I am also going to try using a few different clean buffs after
buffing and polishing with compounds tomorrow, to clean up the greasy
wet compound/ fingerprint residue…I have a few clean flannel ones to
try, and a few clean loose weave muslins…

I do have the Zam, so I will try that instead of the graystar (do you
suggest it because it is less aggressive than the graystar? Does the
graystar “run hotter”?). I do have white diamond tripoli as well, but
switched to the graystar when I read that it didn’t have the "silica"

As for rouges, I could open my own store! I have Dialux red (kind of
"wet/ melty") & blk (kind of dry and fine gritty feeling), with blue
on the way…picasso blue platinum (kind of “wet/ melty”…generic
reds (actually “thought” it was working the best, but I will avoid
in future), generic greens (I wrote for “steel” on my ziplock…
maybe I got it to polish tools…I forget…gonna try the Picasso
blue again…(is the “Picasso blue” the same as the "platinum blue
you mentioned?)

Hoping for the best, trying very hard!
Best regards,

Hey Julie.

Did you ever find out what caused the haze spots?

I just had some aswell, and I might suspect that I overdid it with my polishing motor with the tripoli. It became very hot, and I had tiny fuggy areas after

It is impossible to create firestain with your polishing motor. You may however have uncovered the spots with polishing.
Judy H

1 Like

hi will

finger oils…