Daily Wire Tip June 8: Dawn for Tumbling

By on June 7, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
June 8, 2011


I know you don’t tumble much Dale, but maybe one of your co-workers can answer: Why Dawn for tumbling? I’ve seen so many people say use Dawn instead of the chemical stuff, but what sets Dawn apart from other dish soaps?

-Amie in Fremont, California


Actually Amie, I tumble a lot! Mainly rocks though, and occasionally my daughter’s chain maille pieces.

When I tumble rocks, I use a few flakes of Ivory Snow to break the water cohesion and when I tumble chain maille made by my daughter, Skye, I use a tiny squirt of blue Dawn.

Dale Armstrong's Tumbler Collection
A few of Dale’s tumblers!

Yes, most people have found that Original Blue Dawn dish detergent works best for them, and some people use additional special burnishing compounds made especially for tumbling metals. My investigation of Original Dawn ingredients took me to the Proctor & Gamble website where I found the following link, Ultra Dawn Original ingredients (PDF)

It is my opinion that the cleaning agents and grease strippers that leave no coating or residue whatsoever are the main reason why this detergent works so well when tumbling jewelry. Also, it has few dyes, perfumes, and abrasive chemicals, and is affordable and readily available in grocery stores in the US and Canada. For more information about this product, its many varieties and uses, please visit the company’s website: About Dawn.

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    June 8, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Like Dale has stated, it is that ability to remove residue, grease, oils, whatever, that has made the blue Dawn a favorite with the vast majority of artists who do chain maille work, etc.

    Now that tip about Ivory Snow soap flakes is one I will keep to tell the hubby about since he does all our rock cutting and such. Good one to know for sure.

  2. avatar

    Lady Mockingbird

    June 8, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I, personally, have seen no difference whatever between expensive Dawn and generic dish detergent. I use a tiny drizzle of whatever happens to have been the least expensive the last time I had to replace my kitchen supply of dish detergent.

    I use clean water on every tumble session with my stainless steel shot and my very old Lortone rubber barrel tumbler. Any liquid detergent that cuts grease and rinses clean seems to work equally well. Your mileage may vary.

  3. avatar

    Emma Guy

    June 8, 2011 at 11:44 am

    What works for me is this. I save the left overs from bar soap and buzz them up in the blender with just enough water to create a heavy liguid. A couple tablespoons of this in my mini-sonic tumbler with enough water to wet( very little) creates a fantastic finish…also…waste not…want not.

  4. avatar


    June 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I have read that dish detergents that contain acidic compounds like lemon or orange that is also supposed to help break up grease or dirt can also contribute to breaking down the rubber in the tumbler. That is another reason for using the original blue Dawn.

  5. avatar


    June 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you Dale and all!

  6. avatar

    Pat Whitlow

    June 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I think Dawn need to be right up there with WD40 amd Duct Tape in todays world. It would be hard to get along without them.

    I do find that Dawn rinses cleaner than most dish detergents, and it is great for stain removal as well.

  7. avatar


    June 8, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Dale, I wanted to comment on your last answer. I use 14k gold filled wire and I also wear 14k gold everyday, some I never take off. If I eat acidy food, my fingers on each side of my ring will turn greenish.

    • avatar


      June 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      Wow Maria – thanks for the confirmation!

  8. avatar


    June 9, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Proctor & Gamble test on animals so I won’t use their products. There are plenty of good non-animal tested products out there.

    Looking at the ingredients there are a lot of pretty unpleasant chemicals in there, that are also harmful to the environment, so that’s another reason not to use it!