shiny stones

How To Make Rocks Shiny Without A Rock Tumbler

We are an affiliate
We hope you love the featured products! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page, at no extra cost for the buyer. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!

stones shiny

Do you want to make rocks shiny?

Using a rock tumbler may be the best answer, but it is not the only tool to polish stones.

You can make pebbles and rocks shiny without a rock tumbler by hand. You can get satisfying results with emory cloth, diatomaceous earth, toothpaste or car wax.

For a fruitful effort, you have to make a good start by choosing the right pebbles and rocks to polish by hand.

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 structure may makes the river 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.

Make sure you have  eye protection from particles and probable chemical vapor.

Emery cloth

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

The grit of emery indicates the size of the abrasive that ranges from fine 40 to fine grit 320.

Lower grit numbers show the cloth is fit for roughing up. As the numbers increase, the emery cloth becomes better for fine tuning and polishing.

You’d want the cloth and not the paper backed material.

How to polish rocks with emery cloth?

  1. Start with the heavier grit and work down to the 320 grit.
  2. Keep the rock wet while rubbing as it helps getting rid of the excess material and prevents damage to surface.
  3. 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 river rocks is that you do not lose as much rock from the surface.

You can get diatomaceous earth from a swimming pool supply companies or a garden stores.

Look for the finest particle size possible.

Rub pebbles with the diatomaceous earth and they will shine.

Another way to polsih rocks 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 toothbrush and toothpaste to clean and whitening your teeth everyday.

And those two can help you polish rocks too!

  1. Choose a plain whitening toothpaste. Avoid jelly and colorful ones.
  2. The chemicals in the toothpaste remove stains from your rocks like they do your teeth.
  3. Test a small rock before you do your prime pieces.

Car wax

Some pebbles are simply too soft for abrasives of any kind.

Car wax will make this kind of rock shine without damaging the rocks.

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

The Verdict

Everyone likes their rocks clean and polished.

While in many cases, using a rock tumbler may be the best answer, it is not the only tool.

You can make pebbles and rocks shiny without a rock tumbler.

The upside is that you keep the money instead of paying for the tumbler.

You also 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 lack experience.

But polishing a river rock by hand is absolutely possible!

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.

Where to buy a rock tumbler?

You can check different designs and prices of rock tumblers on Amazon.