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Polishing small or very detailed metal parts - the easy way ;) Answered

I should not get hoocked on the cummunity side here again but well, I am bored today...

If you have a vintage car, some old steam engine models or even really old clocks then you know my pain.
Copper, brass and sometimes aluminium was used and if not cared for in time they nice shine goes first.
Dirt and dust come next.
And with more time passed we start to consider leaving it as the polishing would take forever.
Take one of my "hobbies": old mantle clocks...
Literally everything inside is brass.
Now polishing a bass backing plate with some holes is quite easy if you have an ultrasonic cleaner to clean the debris out of the tiny holes when done.
Even tried to polish a sprocket or fine spring mechanism?
If spoked then this is a really painful job.
But the same is true if you have old copper and brass ware, like these old stenciled pictures on copper sheets.
No matter what you try these jobs end up to take more time than what you imagined and in many cases fine details are left oxidised or filled with the polishing compount.

Now imagine you could get rid of these tarnishes and discolorations without cramps in your hand and bying all sorts of polishing products?
Sure there are the well known brands that polish a lot of metal with ease by simply wiping over them.
But they use harmful and often toxic chemicals and are still no good for really fine details like grooves or emossed stuff.
Wearing gloves and protection is often a must and at least I can't stand the stink of them.
We all know how to clean our dishes, even how to get the dried on lasagne from last night off the dinner plates.
So why not do the same with our brass, copper or aluminium parts?
Just use a spongue, rub and wipe a bit, rinse off and let dry.

Ok, those who tried before reding the rest might be a bit angry now as it does not work that easy.
Well, actually it does, just don't use dishwashing liquid :)
Let me give you two of the worst cleaning problems I encountered first:
You did some very fine brazing to create something nice from brass or bronze.
The flux you can wash off, but polishing the discoloration from the heat and resulting oxidisation will take longe than the brazing job.
The other ecounter was the restauration of a petromax style blow torch of alomst 60 years of age - but thankfully it was never used for more than decoration.
All brass and a lot parts impossible to polish due to size and being quite delicate.
Now we all have ways to spend a lot of time and being creative to use normal ways of polishing.
And, yes I did so myself for many years and kick can myself now too.
Since we can't do any advertising here and I clearly don't want to promote any brands or harm other brands by rendering their costly products useless I need a way out that helps everyone.

So, again, I am not trying to promote anything here!
However I noticed someone in my favourite restaurants kitchen polishing some dark copper pot to a mirrow shine in less than 5 minutes!
I was shocked and asked the manager to explain what I just saw.
He was confused to say the least...
"We clean our pots every day, sometimes more depending on what we cooked in them."
Sure but what do you use to do what I need several hours for in minutes and with better results?
"Just water and soapy powder to shine the metal sir. All natural product."
Omg god or Kali! What makes it shine so quickly?
"Shining powder sir!" - mind you the poor guy was now totally confused and worried, while I started to loose my insanity.
He noticed the look on my face and went into the kitchen.
Gave me a fance looking bag that apart from a lot of Indian writing I could not make any sense of stated "Shining powder" on the pack.
When the manager saw the look on face this time he laughed and asked "How do you clean your copper pots sir?"
I was speechless and just said with much more time and elbow grease...
He packed about thimble worth of powder for me to try and said it would be enough for a medium sizde pot, just use a wet spongue and put a little bit of powder on it.
And guess what the stuff worked as good as in the restaurant :(
I can't even count how many hours I wasted polishing copper or brass parts with fine details.
Or engine parts from aluminium with brass parts inside....
With this stuff you just wipe and tough cases rub a bit harder and all is done in literally seconds.
In tight areas or those with fine details you use a fine brush like those for painting in water colors.
And with that and a spongue you clean even the finest details with ease.
In an ultrasonic cleaner it even works on areas you can't reach, just wipe what you can reach and see somehow and it shines.

Now if you want this magic stuff and check if the guy here is just pulling your leg then be prepared to pay a lot of money.
200 grams of this powder will set you back between 5 and 15 bucks depending on where you shop.
That is enough clean about 300 midsized copper pots or a few hundret meters of copper piping....
Just ask for shining powder in your Indian grocery store ;)

We all waste money or stuff we don't need, so if you have coper, brass or aluminium to polish then try washing it the Indian way - just for fun of testing something else.
And if after that test you think the few bucks and information was well worth it than please post your experience with the powder in the comments below.
I hope all those members here working with these metals will read this too, so if not help me to spread the word please ;)
I am struggling to upload some pics I have taken from the blow torch but will try again alter once I reduced their size.
If in doubt I will upload them to a hoster and link them.

I don't advertise, I don't promote!
However I am so pleased with this dirt cheap product that I use it now as my prefered and natural option.
For this reason I think it is worth sharing.
It is not a magic cure! If you have pitted areas, solder marks or brazin coming out of joints it will not help.
Same for scratches, they still require abrasive polishing to be removed.
But normal dirt from being displayed for years, oxidisation and even slight discoloration from corrosion will vanish.
And if the surface has a good polish underneath all this than it will come back with ease ;)


The forums are retiring in 2021 and are now closed for new topics and comments.

2 years ago

LOL found a so far undocumented use for the stuff: Algae infested plumbing from your fish tank.
I have quite long hoses connected to my filter and cleaning them is always a pain as no brush is long enough.
Usually I soak them in the bath tub with some dishwashing liquid and really hot water.
And then comes the fun game of forcing some foam balls through without creating a total mess....
This morning I had to clean the filter and a cloe look showed the hoses are overdue too.
While I cleaned the filter I soaked the hoses the same old way but added about 2 teaspoons of the shining powder.
After the filter some breakfast, so I guess the hoses were soaking for about 90 minutes...
When I checked the first thing I noticed was that the hoses felt really slimy without having any slime on them.
Almost like oiled up.
A first flush from the tap already removed more material than what I was used to.
But the spongue balls went through much easier too and removed the algae almost like a plunger.
Only downside was that I had to use several rounds of flushing with clean balls and wiping the outside.
The stuff might be safe on my hands but I still did want any residue in my tank.

With that result in mind I tried the door for the shower.
Old filthy thing in need of replacement but rust is of not much concern for landlords around here LOL
The glass cleaned up really easy with a spongue and about a teaspoon ina glass of water.
You know how these calcium deposits cause a crunching sound when cleaning over them?
Well, the sound goes away quite quickly :)
Still looks ugly and rusted as but at least the glass is squeeky clean again ROFL
Will see how it goes as a car wash next LOOOOOL


2 years ago

In the UK bar keepers Friend is very similiar by the sound of it, To feel it is just like old fashioned Jif powder cleanser now sadly degraded into a cream cleaner, no where near as good.

For polishing small jewellery I made a barrel tumble polisher from an old Film developing can and a few lego wheels. Works great with mild abrasives to polish to a high standard and gets into all the nooks etc. i often use cork as a polish carrier.

Images from Amazon and Cooksongold.


Reply 2 years ago

We don't have stuff like this available outside shops that sell only in bulk to restaurants bars and such.
But I read some good reviews about it.
Love your micro tumbler!! :)

After some more tests on various metal surfaces I still try to figure how these Indians came up with the recipe.
It definately does not affect my sensitve hands, nor does it have enough abrasives in it.
Sure if used as a poweder on a wet spongue there is some mild abresive action but the suff still works after all has settled to the bottom of a yar.
All I can think of is a very clever way of ion exchange.
Brass seems to confirm this as after prolonged submersion the parts get a slight copper shine.
Same for zink - don't ever try this stuff on some ornametal plates, cups or such!
It cleans of the oxide really well but turns the metal into a dull black.
And that black is a true pain to remove, so better polish zink the old fashioned way with elbow grease.
Will have to try one day if it would help to improve the outcome of galvanised or plated parts if added to the bath in small amounts.
Aluminium, as mentioned, is not easy all the time either.
Some tests on old anodized parts showed that too much action or time will remove the colored layer and the oxides completely.
Might be good if you want to do cleaning and oxide removal in one step for a new anodising process but otherwise....
Plain aluminium like for kitchen ware, car or motorbike parts come out nice.
That is if you don't mind getting black hands in the process.
Downside is that if you go to a mirror finnish again the protective oxide layer will be gone.
A few days kept dry and out of harms way should be enough to create a suffient layer.
I can not recommend standard polish or wax right after either.
Here you could end up with a protective layer that if distrubed will cause corrosion on the aluminium.
Better let it oxidise a bit in air.
Stainless steel, as said should be free from oxidisation and corrosion anyway.
IMHO the polishing action here is so low that only the cleaning action counts.
A dedicated scrubber to polish stainless steel pots does a quicker and less mess job here.

Mabye the stuff is even good to store copper nano particles in a aquaeous solution !?


Reply 2 years ago

certainly works for Silver.


2 years ago

I just spent 11 hours making a bushing from scrap steel for my scooter by hand (hacksaw, bench grinder, files, rotary polishing wheels). That could've come in handy!

I wish I knew what you were referring to - free advertising for the win!

Was it diamond powder?: https://www.ebay.com/itm/99-99-Diamond-Powder-Poli... I don't know how real this is...

Or this stuff: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1-oz-CRL-Cerium-Oxide-Gla... It's cheap!

Or this, though I wouldn't be surprised if many of the reviews were written by fake bots: https://www.amazon.com/Maas-International-Metal-Po...

I bought a green chromium oxide stick and it works great. I did melt it down and added a bit more wax because it was hard to use at room temperature. I must admit to being so cheap I've started polishing steel with it straight off of a 60 grit bench grinder wheel!


Reply 2 years ago

Jack already posted pics further down ;)
But I guess it would have been of little help as it is a polishing and not a grinding powder.
Everything that once had a nice shine and polish is good material for it.
But not so much something you just created that needs sanding and manual labour first.
Sorry mate but in this case you still need elbow grease.


2 years ago

Well, I did not name it because around here there around 5 different types of the stuff available.
Prices, including fleabuy are always much less than what you pay for any normal polishing compound.
And I really would not bother to write about such a product if it did not perform far above my expectations.
But to be totally fair let me list some "downsides" too:
A smell that covers the stink of cleaning old metal is a nice thing.
But I would not go as far as calling it a pleesant fragrance smeel as in their online "ads".
However, considering the cultural background the selected smell really fits together with herbs, spices and other aromas from the region.
Just my nose would prefer something slightly different LOL
There clearly is a tiny amount of extra fine abresive material present in the product.
I guess without it some things would be really harder to polish with such ease.
It can be quite messy, especially when cleaning brass.
Using gloves might not be required for health reasons but it certainly helps to reduce the time you need to turn your fingers back to normal color.
And even if "fully natural" there is soapy compounds in it as well as stuff that allows for the galvanic reactions to happen.
But then again, same would be true for using a lemon slice with salt and baking powder...
Time can be a female dog here too and the instruction to rinse all good after polishing is vital.
Brass and silver tend to discolor when left in a quite concentrate solution for too long.
Brass seems to lose the weak metal allos and get a slight coppery color, but polishes off quite easy.
Silve tends to turn black, like when using boiled eggs on a silver plate.
But only after over an hour and still easy to clean off.
Could be vital though when dealing with delicate things.

Shared experiences so far from handing out small samples to friends and so on:
A really nice alternative as you can clean with water and polish in one go.
Pretty much useless for chrome parts, although I would not attempt to polish badly corroded chrome to begin with LOL
Cleaned cast aluminium, like found on many engine parts get a much nicer color and shine despite the surface structure.
Steel is a somewhat weird case, at least for me.
Cleaning it for the use of glues, electrochemical processing and so on is great.
Dealing with slight surface rust on "rough" surfaces brings you to the limit of what the stuff can do before you start to sweat from the polishing.
Very fine parts, like from clock mechanisms, clean up better than using any other method I tried over my long life.
Nothing beats beaing able to use brishes, sponges or cotton pads without the constant pressure and mess of normal metal polishing stuff.
A group of guys restoring vintage cars already went online and bought all up 3kg of the stuff.
They claim that even parts still covered with grease or old dirt clean up so fast that it is almost fun to do it.
However they pointed out that aluminium parts that were polished to a mirror shine need added protection.
I think it is a matter of time passing before using though.
Once fully polished aluminium has a very weak or non existing oxide layer and certain things like heat with moisture or chemicals have it very easy to attack the metal.
Using a standard polishing wax after or allowing the parts to form a new oxide layer over a few days should fix this.
One guy and fully out of context even claims it helps with his skin condition and allergies.
Every times he would use the normal cleaning stuff on the car parts his condition would flare up.
Using just the powder he says nothing at all happens with his hands and they feel much softer after a long cleaning session.
For the later I just refer to being forced to do a lot of dishes, after that my hands are also really soft ROFL

It is clearly not the miracle the Indians claim in their few online videos.
Pretty close to it though ;)
A local jewelery maker I told about this stuff wants to test if it is a suitable replacement for all the harmful chemicals he uses.
Most parts are made from brass sheetsm formed, brazed, cleaned and then galvanised/plated.
We sat together for a while over some beer and worked out the test setup.
Clean all parts in an ultrasonic cleaner with the powder solution in it.
This should take care of the flux and other residues while already removing most oxides.
After that all goes into a small rock tumbler filled with saw dust and some teespoons worth of the powder in a slightly moist but not soaking wet mix.
Already wating a few days to meet him when he comes to grab his coffee or to get a skype call...
Will report back once I get his opinion back.

For all those without an Indian grocery story at hand or reasons not to enter one:
All vital online stores have sellers offering this stuff.
One of the companies behind the product also advertises that they want local distributors.
So if you can't find it then order a small bag online.
Go for the smallest and cheapest pack or hope a friend already has it and gives you some to try.
If you know anything that does this job better and cheaper let me know because I laready wasted years of my life polishing stuff ROFL

Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

2 years ago

Hey DU!

Thanks for sharing this.

You say this, what you call, "indian shining powder", is "dirt cheap product", and "natural", and that it actually works for making metal shiny.

Have I mentioned before that it is naive to think just because something is cheap and available, in your local stores, that it is also cheap and available in all other towns on this planet?

I guess what I'm saying is I've never seen this stuff in my local stores, and I am pretty sure my town does not have a, "Indian grocery store"

But just to play along, I sought out some images matching your description of this stuff, and I will attach these to this post. I think these pictures were stolen from pages at domain, amazon.in. There are just two I found so far, one brand named, "Pitambari", and another named, "Tamberi Piteri". Both have the words, "shining powder", and a short list of different shine-able metals, on the front of the package.

I am hopeful these are indeed pictures of what you're writing about, and that they will help people reading this, who, like me, have never seen this stuff before.

By the way, do we have any idea what this stuff is materially? I mean besides being, uh, "natural".