How To Make Rocks Shiny Without A Rock Tumbler

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Stones colored crystals on a white background.

Everyone likes their rocks clean and lustrous. While in many cases, using a rock tumbler may be the best answer, it is not the only tool.

You can make most rocks pop and shine without using a rock tumbler.

The upside is that you do not spend the money for the tumbler. You keep yourself from the hassle of storing and cleaning and buying chemicals.

On the downside, you take the risk of harming a very beautiful rock if you are not knowledgeable and do not have experience.


Pick a rock, which will shine

One thing you should know before you apply any of the techniques below is that some rocks will not polish.

The reason is that the grain structure caused by the molecular structure makes the rocks deteriorate if you use any kind of abrasive technique.

All of these methods come to the foundation which is hand polishing. This means hand work, which necessitates work safety measures.

You will need hand gloves because the tiny bits of rock that may come off during the polishing, and chemicals can harm your skin.

You will need eye protection from particles and probable chemical vapor.


Emery cloth

Emery cloth is also known called wet dry sand paper. You can buy emery at any hardware store.

The grit of emery indicates the size of the abrasive that ranges from 40 to 320. You’d want the cloth and not the paper backed material.

How to polish rocks with emery cloth?

  • Start with the heavier grit and work down to the 320 grit.
  • Keep the rock wet while rubbing as it helps getting rid of the excess material and prevents damage to surface.
  • The final polish should be done with a piece of felt that has aluminum oxide powder in it, which can be obtained from craft stores.


Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is really the remains of ancient diatoms. The material has been used as a mild abrasive for centuries.

The advantage of using diatomaceous earth to polish rock is that you do not lose as much rock from the surface or have to do as much work.

You can get diatomaceous earth from a swimming pool supply company or a garden store. Look for the finest particle size possible.

You can rub the rocks with the diatomaceous earth and they will shine.

Another way to make your rocks shine with diatomaceous earth is to pick a small plastic food storage box.

The box should hold the rocks and at least five times as much diatomaceous earth as rocks. Gently shake the box.



You use a tootbrush and toothpaste to clean and whitening your teeth everyday. And those two can also make your rocks shiny too!

  • Choose a whitening toothpaste. The chemicals in the toothpaste remove stains from your rocks like they do your teeth.
  • Test a small rock before you do your prize specimen.


Car wax

Some rocks are simply too soft for abrasives of any kind. Car wax will make this kind of rock shine without damaging the rocks.

  • Wash the rocks very carefully to remove and dirt and debris.
  • Dry the rocks
  • Apply the car wax with a slightly moist soft cloth.
  • Let the wax dry. A second coat of wax can add more shine to the rock.
  • This trick works for hard rocks as well.


What could you do with all those shiny stones?

You can always create a jewelry item for yourself by taking your stone to the jewelry store. Think of a silver necklace with that green stone that you picked up and made shine.

You may want to create an unique silver gift by combining the stone with a silver bracelet for mother’s day gift.