Sterling turns black!
by Kandi Morley
(Cedar Park, TX)
I tumble my sterling jewelry with mixed stainless steel shot and it turns it black! It's driving my insane. I even exchanged the rubber housing (The Chicago one from Harbor Freight) and it worked ok for a few times and then back to black! (I've used a friends old tumber which is the identical model as mine and it works perfect) I empty the solution and replace, rinse the shot and use Dawn liquid soap.
Sounds like the rubber barrel may be leaching a chemical into the tumbling solution, turning everything black. This only seems to be a problem with the HF models as the rubber quality is inconsistent....some of their barrels are fine. Are you rinsing everything after each use? The water must be changed after each use and sometimes during the tumbling if the items are really oxidized like when you add a liver-of-sulfur patina to them.
Your shot is probably dirty now too as "gunk" can get built up on it as it appears to have in your photo. Before adding any more jewelry items, you'll want to clean your shot. I use a Burnishing compound for this, Rio Grande's Item Number: 339394 and Rio Grande also carries a stainless steel shot cleaner, Item Number: 339316. Make sure you rinse the barrel and the shot throughly before adding any jewelry. The burnishing compound will do an amazing job on bright metal, but leaves items that you've added a patina to, such as liver-of-sulfur splothy if it doesn't remove the patina completely.
If you're still having issues after you clean your shot and barrel, then I would recommend investing in a Lortone tumbler. The 3A model is the same size as the HF one. The 4C allows you to tumble pieces that are a bit larger. Please note that it also requires more stainless steel shot.