We collected some beautiful green and purple flourite in NM and have discovered that polishing them in a tumbler pretty much eats them up. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we can polish them and still have something remaining after they go through the tumbler. Thank you !
Well you couldn't have chosen a more difficult material to tumble other then maybe talc!
As you have discovered fluorite is pretty soft and grinds down very fast so it needs a LOT of care when tumbling it.
As you have already started the fluorite I would assume they are pretty well shaped already so,,,,,
I would suggest tumbling them in a 400 or 500 silicone carbide grit with a 50-50 ratio of fluorite and plastic pellets for about 1 week,,,,,,you may want to check on them after 4-5 days to see if they are already for the next stage.
Using the same 50-50 ratio (but with NEW plastic pellets) go to a 800 or 1000 grit for the same period of time as before.
The fluorite should be very smooth by now and ready for the final polish stage which is normally done in a separate barrel dedicated solely for polishing.
If you don't have a separate barrel for polishing you should run your barrel for several hours with NEW plastic pellets,powdered laundry soap (Dreft is a good choice)and HOT water.
Your barrel and lid MUST be surgically clean before trying to use it for polishing!
I would suggest either Aluminum Oxide or Chrome Oxide for a polish also with a 50-50 ratio of NEW plastic pellets and your fluorite.Run this for a week but check in 4-5 days as well.
There are several other suggested methods for tumble polishing fluorite that use "thickeners" such as corn syrup,molasses and sugar but they are VERY messy so I would stay away from them.
I am NOT an expert at tumbling rocks but have done my share of it and cringe at the thought of tumbling fluorite!
Also,,,,if you are interested in rock tumbling there is a web group with 2000+ members who can answer just about anything you can possibly ask,,,,,
This is the Home Page,,,,
This is the forum,,,,
Good luck and if I can be of further help,,,,,just ask!
Tom, thank you soooo much ! Needless to say, when we started the process, being "pebble puppies" we thought just put it into a tumbler and you have polished fluorite. We are learning so quickly, thank you for your help, much appreciated. Will update you .
OK May,,,we'll be waiting for that update!
Haha since when is Tumbler Tom Not an expert? I seem to remember you winning an award for your tumbling expertise!!!!!
Good to see you back and posting again!
I guess you know I'm not one for blowing my own horn but,,,,,
I'm pretty upset with R&G Magazine's choice to not print a VERY small article about last years 2010 World Rock Tumbling Competition's winners!
The press release was sent in to R&G by the Feather River Lapidary and Mineral Society in Oroville CA but R&G opted to not print it!
I know that rock tumbling is sort of looked down upon by "real" lapidarists(is that a word) and fine mineral collectors but it is the foundation of all lapidary/rockhounding and a lot of people get there start by simply picking up rocks and tumbling them.
I guess Bob Jones Senior Editor of R&G has his nose so far up in the air with all his world renowned minerals that he can't come back down to earth to give a rock tumbler a little notoriety!
Can ya tell I'm ANGRY?!