Rock Tumbler

I’ve always liked crystals and had a passing interest in the power and abilities they are supposed to possess, but they can be pretty expensive. So I bought a Rock tumbler, in order to try to turn rocks into gems, here’s what i discovered…

We recently posted about Wicca Moon a crystal shop we found in Eltham, while walking the Capital Ring and I’ve been watching a YouTuber (Makayla Samountry) who is really into her crystals and it’s got me more interested in them, but in order to have nice large Towers and Spheres of Kunzite or Selenite you’re going to need to manifest a lot of money.

So I thought of an alternative, a Rock Tumbler.

I never gave it much thought as to what a tumbled stone really was, you get jagged, rough rocks or tumbled stones and I just went with it. But it seems that tumbled stones/crystals are basically like the stones you find on the beach, the ones washed over by the sand and sea for 10,000years until they are smooth and polished.

In order to get crystals like Citrine or Rose Quartz that are usually found in rocky crags far from the sea to appear all smooth and polished needs a little unnatural intervention – a Rock Tumbler. But like the crystals themselves, the tumblers aren’t exactly cheap, but looking on everyone’s favourite website, in the Warehouse Section I found a cheap one – probably a return – and so I snapped it up.

What I received was a device that resembled a electronics soldering kit with a pair of axis wheels bolted to the top and a pair of wheels pinned to the side, a rubber barrel, a couple of rubber bands, a sieve and a bag of sample stones, along with a few bags of grit. The instruction manual is pretty basic and also somewhat flippant, the FAQ’s are answered with some snarky comments!

So I set it up, the rubber bands wrap around the wheels on the side, which connect to the motor inside and in turn touch the side of the barrel that sits on top, in-between the pair of axels and that’s it all the set up it requires.

Then you fill the barrel with a handful of stones, cover them with water and pour the Number 1 Grit in, there is a tight fitting rubber lid and a screw on cover, you clamp it up real tight, drop it on and hit ‘Go’ and then sit and wait.

…and wait and wait.

Basically the device is like the sea in a time lapse working over the rocks, the grit is like extra strong sand and the rolling barrel churns the water around and around.

The process takes a minimum of 5 days, non-stop and very loud!

When i first turned it on i wasn’t sure what was going to happen, because the descriptions and details fail to mention just how loud, tumbling rocks in a barrel really is, so this is not something you just put on in the living room and forget, no this is a device for the end of the lawn, past the carp pond, behind the gardeners shed, you know far-far away from the TV. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a shed (or a carp pond) and so it sat on a concrete balcony, grinding away.

After a day of the relentless droning noise i was questioning the legitimacy of doing this and of the my need for polished stones, so i stopped it and took a look (you can stop and start the machine whenever you want and you could in theory just turn it on when you are not around), but upon opening the barrel i found a pool of grey sludge and some already semi polished stones and the whole process seemed a little more reasonable.

So back on the motor went, but this time i improvised some adjustments. I get the polystyrene from the box it came in, made a hole in one side and pushed the power cable through, connected it, then placed the foam on some high density foam I happened to have for a craft project and covered this all in a box, then covered that in a dust blanket, this helped mute the noise down to the equivalent of a water pump and i tried to convince myself that i did have that carp pond at the end of the lawn!

I left it to spinning around for the next four days.

Finally turned it off and unsealed the barrel, eager to see what i have created. What i found inside was a sludgy grey slurry water but buried beneath the surface was an interesting and a fairly successful batch of polished stones. The Amethyst was pretty, almost semi-transparent and the deep blue of the Lapis had appeared out of the grey exterior, however the rose Quartz and Aventurine were a little misty and probably needed about few days of spinning around.

I had added a few beach stones and others too and i can say tan gravel rocks remain tan gravel rocks, no matter how polished they get, but some of the others were like chorus dancers given their night in the spotlight and they came out of the slurry a little brighter, a little more colourful and whole lot more interesting than when they went in.

In all it was interesting and the results are pretty good, I am glad I only paid around £35 for it instead of the £100+RRP, it would not have been worth the full price and though the motor is pretty small, the cost of running this all day, every day to get a decent batch of rocks would cost more than you’d sell the rocks for.

As for this machine, well it’s going into the cupboard until i have a house with an east wing or a couple of acres of land, because that noise is just irritating.

The whole thing is marketed to be a great project for kids, but seriously can you ever see any kid willingly waiting a week to see the results? I certainly would have given up on the whole idea in favour of a football, a computer game or even Lego, at least they were immediate, but if you have a kid who has a pet rock, then maybe it would be something to invest in.

Well that’s another review on something different, come back next time for more from Climbing Moss.

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