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Formula for polishing and buffing compounds for stainless steel

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


A. Because buffing compound bars are a commercial product, I don't see much about their composition in technical articles in the metal finishing journals. But I believe you will be able to find expired patents.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
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
Nova Finishing Systems Inc.
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

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. RET
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?

AF Kenton
Nova Finishing Systems Inc.
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 dp 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.

AF Kenton
Nova Finishing Systems Inc.
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.

AF Kenton
Nova Finishing Systems Inc.
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
- 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.

AF Kenton
Nova Finishing Systems Inc.
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. 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
Teds signature
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.

AF Kenton
Nova Finishing Systems Inc.
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

Looking for Technical Resources

December 6, 2016

Q. 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

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