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topic 14468

Formula for polishing and buffing compounds for stainless steel

A discussion started in 2002 but continuing through 2019


Q. Hello,

I am a small business man from TN. I want to start a small scale of bars used for polishing and buffing stainless steel. I want to know the perfect formulation of chemicals used for polishing and buffing stainless steel and aluminium. Can you please say me the formula of chemicals used for the above process. I am awaiting your reply for opening my new polish material shop.


Vinod Rajpurohit
- Madurai, TN, India

Digital version

(No longer published, but Elsevier hasn't yet de-commissioned the online version of the Guidebook)
Download it before it disappears.

A. Hi cousin Vinod. It might be foolish to invest your own money to open a shop based on internet advice from strangers :-)
Please start by at least reading the "Buffing & Polishing" and "Buffing Wheels & Equipment" chapters in the Metal Finishing Guidebook so you have an understanding of how to select abrasive materials and different abrasive sizes, and what the characteristics are of stainless steel and aluminum which will help guide those choices. Your customers are not likely to be able to polish & buff with a single type of bar, but will probably need a number of different grit sizes.

Because buffing compound bars are a commercial product rather than a home-brew affair, you won't see much about their exact composition in technical articles or on the internet ... but I believe you will be able to find some info in expired patents. Best of luck.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. Not sure what you are looking for here. I suspect no one will give you the actual formulation of a buffing compound; however, it shouldn't be that hard either. The primary ingredient is normally an extremely fine aluminum oxide powder blended in some form of fatty compound. Compounds are formulated to work in or at a certain temperature range.

tony kenton
AF Kenton
Hatboro, Pennsylvania

February 13, 2013

Q. I want to know the composition of buffing compound for stainless steel, what its demand is all over the world, and what is its scope in future.

Reshmi [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

A. Hi Reshmi. We added your inquiry to this thread about the composition of buffing compound. Marketing studies about current demand and future demand for product lines like this are generally offered in the $50,000 USD range; I doubt that you'll get any actionable info from your posting, but here it is, and best of luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 6, 2013

Q. I needed an expert's advice on polishing compounds.
If we use a freshly made compound and a compound which is comparatively older than the previous one, will the effect differ. Also wanted to know which bar should I use for cutting and pre polishing on stainless steel? We have a lot of options available but what should be the base of it?

Abhinav Agarwal
- Mumbai, india

May 6, 2013

A. Hi Abhinav. Buffing compounds do have "shelf lives", probably mostly related to evaporation of solvents from the binders. The life after the package is opened is much shorter than while the packaging is still sealed.

What is really at "the base of it" is this: buffing and polishing is not something you can practically do with a single bar of compound for the same reason that you don't dig the foundation for a skyscraper with a tea spoon, nor try to put the coffee in your percolator with a steam shovel. Too coarse an abrasive selection would mean you never stop putting substantial scratches into the workpiece, and too fine an abrasive would take forever and a day to do a heavy cut.

So you start with however coarse an abrasive you need to remove the largest and deepest grinding or handling scratches in a practical amount of time, and you end with however fine an abrasive you need for the degree of final buffing you seek. Frequently, two compounds are not enough and you need three or four stages -- sometimes even more.

You also must select abrasives that are hard enough to cut stainless steel and are iron-free (such as alumina and green chromic oxide) because the use of iron will make the stainless steel prone to rusting. This is mostly just book knowledge, so readers are welcome to expand upon it or correct me.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 11, 2013

thumbs up signThanks a lot ted. The main issue with us always has been these compounds. This is one of the most important steps of plating and finishing industry but in our country it is the most overlooked upon since one has to all the dirty work.

Thanks a ton.

Abhinav Agarwal [returning]
- Mumbai, India

January 31, 2014

Q. I wanted to know if there is any other alternative than aluminium oxide that can provide a better cutting result? Which mineral can be used to get a good result for removing initial heavy scratches from a stainless steel surface?

Abhinav Agarwal [returning]
- Mumbai, India

February 3, 2014

A. There are a lot of other minerals out there that can abrade S.S.; however, normally aluminum oxide is the most common, the hardest and about the least expensive -- that is why it is used most. How are you going to use abrasive?

tony kenton
AF Kenton
Hatboro, Pennsylvania

September 18, 2014

Q. We do not know a good performing abrasive rather than aluminium oxide. Silica fades away very quickly which we do not use. I tried using a lot but currently unable to get the desired results. If you could suggest few items, I could well try that. Plus what should be ratio of binders? Could you suggest us on that.

Abhinav Agarwal [returning]
- mumbai, india

October 10, 2014

A. If the media does not break down, it is not a good abrasive. That is why abrasive blast systems need to replace media periodically. If you want to try some hard crystal abrasive alternatives, you try garnet or zirconia.

tony kenton
AF Kenton
Hatboro, Pennsylvania

November 11, 2014

Q. Dear AF Kenton:
May you please tell me which is the abrasive and grain size to satin metals in a fantasy manufacturing shop?
Thank you.

Victor Delgado
- bogota, colombia

November 12, 2014

A. All abrasives media comes in different sizes. The larger the media size the coarser the surface finish. Hardness of the metal also affects the finish. Most satin metal finishes can be achieved with anywhere from 60-120 grit size media.

tony kenton
AF Kenton
Hatboro, Pennsylvania

November 13, 2014

Q. Thank you Mr. kenton. Also I understand that to satin metals the solid abrasive compound should be greaseless. May you please tell me which greaseless binder should I use?
Thank you

victor delgado [returning]
- bogota colombia SA

December 2, 2014

A. Okay. Considered your question and think it is basically proprietary info that I do not have access too; however, I can give you a generic answer. Polishing compounds can be in a liquid or solid form. Naturally the less liquid the thicker the polish. When it comes to solid bars, most use a form of grease to bind rouge but you can use glue products.

tony kenton
AF Kenton
Hatboro, Pennsylvania

February 27, 2016

Q. Hi all,
Please help … What is the substitute of kerosene for metal finishing?
And why kerosene is even used after using polishing compounds?

Prabz matharu
hard chrome plating - New delhi, delhi - india

Color vs. Grit Size for Abrasives

October 15, 2016

Q. What is the significance of Color of abrasives? I've got 2 polishing compounds one Green and Red. Both these compounds have abrasive particles of same grit.

Amit Kunchal
Manufacturer - Bangalore, India

October 2016

A. Hi Amit. Although grit size is one important parameter for polishing, there is a lot more to it than that, including what the abrasive is made of: aluminum oxide, emery, chromic oxide, tripoli, etc. It is possible that the green is made of chromic oxide (suitable for polishing stainless steel) and the red is emery not suitable for stainless because it induces rust. Even still, some manufacturers dye the abrasive bars to help you visually insure that it has all been removed before subsequent operations. If you tell us your situation, i.e., what you are trying to finish and what finish you need, it's possible that a reader will offer specific advice on which abrasives to use. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

October 16, 2016

Q. I have 2 polishing compounds.
Green made of Chrome Oxide.
Red made of Ferric Oxide.
Both have same grit size of 200.
Now if I use these 2 compounds on different metal surface such as:
1. Any white metal like Stainless Steel.
2. Any yellow metal like Copper.
What is the impact of color of compound?
What I understand that as grit size is same so polishing effect need to be similar.
Please comment.

Amit Kunchal [returning]
- Bangalore, India

October 24, 2016

A. Amit,

I would not recommend using Ferric Oxide on stainless steel primarily to avoid contaminating a corrosion protected metal with ferric oxide. I haven't tested this, but simple mental evaluation for my own purposes is that it is something I would avoid. Chrome oxide is often times specifically used on stainless and therefore would be something I would go to for SS.

For copper, brass, bronze, zinc I would use brown Tripoli compound, although ferric oxide (red rouge) can be used and is on precious metals quite often and I'm sure would do a fine job on copper, brass, etc...

Both of what you have are very fine low cutting compounds and used normally for final finishing where polishing and low cutting is needed.


Rama Shunn
- Woodinville, Washington USA

November 4, 2016

Q. I manufacture a compound using different oxides.
1. Yellow Ochre with 100 grit size.
2. Silica with 200 grit size.

I want to understand when we are mixing compound with different grit size, then what is the impact on finishing.
Will this compound behave more like compound with 100 grit size?
If yes, then what is the benefit of silica in compound?

Amit Kunchal [returning]
Manufacturer - Bangalore, India

November 7, 2016

A. In regards to the last question about mixing. There is nothing gained by using 2 different grit sizes. You will not get more abrasion faster or smoother than using one or the other. You will get a measurement of the rougher abrasive but you may not get an even visual appearance of it.

tony kenton
AF Kenton
Hatboro, Pennsylvania

How does the grease content of Polishing Compound effect finishing?

December 5, 2016

Q. I see many different metal polishing compounds in market. Some are dry and some are oily. So how does the grease content in compound affect final finishing?

Amit Kunchal [returning]
Manufacturer - Bangalore, India

A. Hi Amit, the previously mentioned article in the Metal Finishing Guidebook, which can be read right now at no cost, spends 8 pages explaining when and why to use solvent based vs. water based, liquid vs. solid, etc. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

Looking for Technical Resources

December 6, 2016

RFQ: I am manufacturer of metal polishing and buffing compound in India.
I am already manufacturing many different compounds with set formulation.
I really like to design new products for Indian market, but somehow due to lack of technical expertise, I am unable to do so.

I am looking for some consultants or some books on the same topic which can help me in designing new products.

Amit Kunchal [returning]
Manufacturer - Bangalore, India
^- Sorry, this RFQ is outdated

Ed. note: Sorry Gentle Readers,
… but we can't delete this outdated RFQ without causing broken links. So what we now do instead is put RFQs onto one of these four pages and roll them off when filled or dated:

Need a Finishing Service in the Americas
Need a Finishing Service in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe
Need Consultant, Chemicals or Equipment in the Americas
Need Consultant, Chemicals or Equipment in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe

November 20, 2017

Q. I'm working in industrial workshop. I want to use polishing paste for steel sheets. Can you please tell me the formula of chemicals used for polishing paste?

sajad shiri
- tehran, iran

November 2017

A. Hi cousin Sajad. As you can see, polishing is a whole technical discipline with some people devoting their entire careers to it. So please read this page and the free linked articles and try to fine tune your question with information such as what type of steel, what roughness it is when it gets to you, what roughness you want it to have at the conclusion of all your polishing and buffing steps, and what will be the next step (plating, painting, powder coating, galvanizing, oiling).

Is there a reason you can't just buy the already formulated polishing paste instead of having to buy all the individual commodity components? Thanks.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

November 21, 2017

Q. Hi, I am in polishing compound manufacture; right know I am using green chrome, but it gives yellow shine.
I need a suggestion which chemical like green chrome can give blue shining.

kartik a
manufacturing - nellore, andhra pradesh, India

Volck oil emulsifiers?

February 26, 2018

Q. Hi
Which emulsifier is used in Volck oil when diluting oil with water to make white-milky concentrated emulsion?

I am looking for an emulsifier agent that can make a milky emulsion canola oil in water?


sajad shiri
student - iran

August 19, 2018

A. Making of polishing buffing bar a hot sell is any manufacturer's dream come true. For those who have succeeded are millionaires already. Because here no amount of marketing helps. Only the product speaks. The formula is very much required from the experienced. It's priceless!

Pavan dogra
- Chennai, TN, India

January 5, 2019

A. I have been polishing metals for some time, and I make my own polishing compound. I have read a lot of patents and try almost everything. I have gotten Mirror-like finish in SS by using 700-800 g chrome oxide (green powder), 150 g paraffin, 150 g tallow stearine (or stearic acid). You can try fused alumina, but you need a particle size below 10 microns, otherwise you won't have a perfect bright mirror like surface.
Hope it helps you!

Rosniel Gonzalez
- Mariel, Artemisa, Cuba

February 4, 2019

Q. Hi
I need a way to Recycling of polishing soap that have broken down and are not useful. For this job, I liquify them with heat, and again format them to soap. But this reduces the quality of soap. So I want to know how can I up the quality of soap by adding something to the liquid?

amin jafari
stainless steel - sirjan, iran

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