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I soaked a large jar full of pebbles (from a river) in bleach water for a couple of years and the rocks came out super smooth and shiny when dried. I have tried to repeat this process again but am not having any luck with it this time. Have you ever heard of this and do you know if there is a certain ratio of water to bleach that works? Perhaps I put something else in the water the first time and caused a chemical reaction?

Here is a picture of the rocks that became smooth and shiny after a couple of years in water with bleach added for keeping the water clean and clear. And a picture of the rocks I have done the same to for a year. An interesting note is that fossils such as Petoskey Stones do not change at all.

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    $\begingroup$ 1) Are you sure you used the same kind of "rock" (Just because you found them in the same place doesn't mean they're the same) 2) Just why did you go and chuck a few rocks in bleach (and leave it there for a few years)? $\endgroup$ – paracetamol Dec 11 '16 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect the smoothing may have more to do with the caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) in the bleach rather than the actual bleaching agent (hypochlorite). $\endgroup$ – Nicolau Saker Neto Dec 11 '16 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. You are probably right and I just need to soak the second batch of rocks for another year. $\endgroup$ – Jerri Foley Dec 12 '16 at 1:44
  • $\begingroup$ I know I am super late on this but I just found it looking up ways to do this. Concentrated bleach (like the toilet bowl cleaner stuff) will eat away at the rocks in a few minutes depending on the composition of said rocks. The softer stuff usually takes less time. The chemical reaction will cause the stone to "melt away" little by little. There is a video on youtube about it. Something like "using a dremel and acid to polish stones" or some other cheeky name lol. It's worked for me, but be careful and patient. It doesn't work with every kind of stone. $\endgroup$ – Christopher Oct 15 at 15:46
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I've collected rocks and tumble polished rocks. It is not possible that just sitting in bleach water tumble polished the stones. You can leave the stones in bleach water till you die and they still won't get polished. The only explanation is that you bought polished stones and put them into the bleach water. Over a period of time you just forgot what type of stones that you started with.

The other point is that "river rocks" (rocks smoothed in a river...) will look much smoother when wet because the water wets the surface and "hides" some of the surface roughness. So dry Petoskey Stones just look sort of mottled gray stones, but when wet the coral pattern shows nicely.

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The rocks become polished because of tumbling with grit, not because of chemicals. In the best case scenario the chemicals (either soda or bleach) will not do anything to the rocks and in the worst case scenario they will damage the rocks, forming microscopic pits and destroying any polished surface.

Leaving rocks for prolonged times (years???) just seems absurd to me.

I soaked a large jar full of pebbles (from a river) in bleach water for a couple of years and the rocks came out super smooth and shiny when dried.

Maybe they were polished to begin with and you just don't remember? The rocks in the first picture look tumbled. See that irregular shaped white-orange rock in the top middle? Bleach will never do that. This is tumbled.

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