Sodalite for Rock Tumbling and Cabbing
This image shows a 3-pound bag of sodalite tumbling rough, dumped into a colander and sprayed with water to reveal its full color. Click on the image for a larger view. Your tumbled stones are going to be a beautiful dark blue and white!
Sodalite Tumbling and Cabbing Rough
Size: mostly 1 to 2 inch pieces
What is Sodalite?
Sodalite is a rare blue mineral found mainly in igneous rocks. Some rocks containing abundant sodalite can be polished to a beautiful luster and are durable enough for a variety of uses. When polished they often display attractive white patterns produced by other minerals dispersed through the rock. For these reasons and especially for its blue color, sodalite is valued as a gem material, ornamental stone and architectural material.
The sodalite being sold here is in a rock from Brazil that also contains abundant white nepheline. Both of these minerals have a hardness of approximately 6 on the Mohs hardness scale. That gives the rock a uniform hardness that will perform well in a rock tumbler. The tumbled stones produced will have an appearance dominated by dark blue sodalite with fine markings of white nepheline.
This rough can also be used to cut nice blue and white cabochons. Some people make tumbled stones then pick the ones that can easily be sawn into thin slices for cutting small cabochons - or just tumble the slices for nice ovid gems that are perfect for earrings, pendants, cufflinks, game pieces and more.
Tips for Tumbling Sodalite
This sodalite can be polished in a rock tumbler using two modifications of our general rotary rock tumbling instructions. If you are not familiar with our instructions, you can find a full description here and an abbreviated printable version here. The two modifications are described below.
Modification #1:Because this sodalite is mainly in 1 to 2 inch pieces, smaller material must be added to the tumbler to fill the spaces between the sodalite. We suggest using either small ceramic cylinders or a mixture of small and large ceramic cylinders. These cylinders will fill the spaces between the sodalite and deliver grit and abrasive pressure to the surface of the sodalite. The cylinders will also act as roller bearings to facilitate a smooth and effective tumbling action. In a rotary tumbler we recommend a ratio of 70% sodalite rough and 30% ceramic media. In a vibratory tumbler we recommend a 50% sodalite and 50% ceramic media. Additional media can be added after the first step of tumbling if the volume of material in the tumbler drops below recommended levels.
Modification #2:The 1 to 2 inch size of these pieces also requires another modification to our general rock tumbling instructions. They will require more than one or two weeks in the first grinding step to attain a rounded shape and a smooth surface. In a rotary tumbler we suggest running the coarse grit step for three weeks straight and then giving six or seven days each in medium and fine, followed by seven days in TXP aluminum oxide polish. In a vibratory tumbler, simply run them in the first grit until their surface is smoothed to your liking and then run them two days in fine and two days in TXP aluminum oxide polish.
Tumbled Sodalite is Available
If you would rather purchased sodalite that is already tumbled we have some very nice stones in medium size, available by the pound here.
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