Polishing Rocks?

Can borax be used in a rubber rock tumbler barrel without damaging the rubber barrel? The theory is to clean the rocks as they tumble and to remove excess dirt, etc.


Thank you.


June 28, 20180 found this helpful

According to this article it is ok to use it. The author used Ivory soap. rocktumbler.com/.../

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June 28, 20180 found this helpful

I would check with your tumbler's customer service department before using anything in it, especially if it has a warranty. Using unapproved products can damage the equipment, potentially cause a fire, and invalidate the warranty.

If the number isn't on the box, it is usually an easy find with Google.

Are you making jewelry with your tumbled rocks? Would love to see pix if you are! I did my first rock tumble way back in the late 1970s and it was fascinating at a museum display. It was WAY cool!

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June 28, 20180 found this helpful

If you are talking about using Borax in the initial stages of cleaning your rocks, then the answer to your question is no - you have to use special grit for the the stages of cleaning your rocks.


If you are talking about using Borax for the extra step of polishing/burnishing (instead of shaved Ivory soap) (after all cleaning steps have been completed) then the answer to your question is, yes you can, but Ivory soap shavings are highly recommended.

  • I loved seeing the results of rock tumbling when my two sons just had to have one of these tumbling machines. Our machine was purchased before the rubber barreled machines were sold (1960's) and it made a LOT of noise. Still, it did an excellent job - if you followed the instructions faithfully.
  • I believe "follow instructions faithfully" is the key to having beautiful finished rocks/stones when the complete process is done.
  • Rubber barreled rock tumblers can take a lot as that is what they are made for but cleanliness is a very important step and must be done after every step in your process.

    (I read that rubber tumblers make up over 90% of tumblers sold but I do not have that information link.)
  • There are several sites that give excellent instructions for rock tumbling - from beginning to end - including the extra step - burnishing.
  • Here is an excellent guide and explains every step and explains how important it is to use only a clean machine.
  • www.smarterhobby.com/.../
  • This site is very good but it is really a company that sells all the supplies for rock tumbling. There are instructions on each step of the process - just look for the links.
  • rocktumbler.com/
  • This article is just on the final/extra step of burnishing and if you are doing this final step, you can use Borax, but this is the ONLY time.
  • rocktumbler.com/.../

Here is a link to the history of rock tumbling just in case you are interested in learning about how all of this started and continued through today.



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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

Does anyone know the best way to glaze or polish Petoskey stones? They have been through a rock tumbler and are smooth, but I'm not sure how to shine them up.

By Angela M.


May 7, 20122 found this helpful

My son used to love tumbling rocks he found in the woods. After tumbling (and with Mum supervision) he would 'paint' his prizes with cheap clear nail polish. It made the rocks look wet, very glossy.

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