How to Polish Seaglass to Remove Salt


When I first began working with seaglass, I must have tossed back dozens of great pieces that I thought were unusable because they were too heavily coated in salt from spending so many years tumbling around in the Atlantic Ocean. My parents and I tried everything we could think of to remove it: household cleaners, vinegar, lime juice, even soda pop (for some reason we thought maybe the bubbles would help – what can I say? We were desperate). One evening while having our after-dinner tea, my mom picked up a particularly nice piece of blue seaglass, and was rubbing it between her thumb and forefinger while remarking that there must be something we hadn’t tried yet that would work. When she looked back down at the piece in her hand, lo and behold, some of the salt had come off! Yay! We realized that if the natural oils in the skin would take off some of the salt, what would happen if we used something like say, cooking oil or baby oil? So mom broke out the Canola, and we gave it a shot. We learned very quickly that you only need a very small amount, and the great thing is, most of the glass is porous enough that it will quickly absorb the oil, so as long as you don’t use too much, it will not come off on clothing! Mom and I both tested that out πŸ™‚ Also, it won’t take away that beautiful frosted effect that is one of the key characteristics of seaglass.
Here’s what you need:
1 J-cloth, cut into 2 pieces, one large, one small, folded in half
Vegetable or baby oil
Add a VERY SMALL amount of oil to the small piece of J-cloth (paper towels will work as well if you’re only polishing one or two pieces, but will start falling apart fairly easily after that), I usually do it by removing the cap, placing the cloth over the mouth of the bottle and tipping the bottle up and back down super-quick.
Rub this all over the seaglass until all the salt is removed (which is really quick, especially with the first few pieces)
Dry off with the larger piece of J-cloth, and let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until all the oil has been absorbed.
VOILA! Beautiful salt free seaglass, easy peasy!

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Janet
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 19:03:57

    Thanks for the tip on polishing seaglass….I just tried and it works….love it when things work out. Any tips on how to drill seaglass??????

    Reply

    • BrainofJen
      Apr 10, 2013 @ 05:30:14

      Hi Janet!
      Thanks, glad it worked out for you! I’ve actually never tried drilling seaglass, 1. I’m a little clumsy & afraid I would end up drilling through a finger instead, and 2. I prefer to wire wrap it so it’s in it’s natural state just as it emerged from the ocean. Aside from the polishing, of course πŸ˜‰

      Reply

      • Randi
        Jan 29, 2015 @ 22:11:25

        I just starting working with sea glass and love it! Thanks for the tip for polishing. I did drill a small hole by using a glass/tile drill bit. I bought it for about $10 at Cdn. Tire.

      • BrainofJen
        Jan 29, 2015 @ 23:48:49

        I never would’ve thought to check Canadian Tire for the drill bit, thanks for the tip!

  2. Lyntaga
    Nov 22, 2014 @ 23:14:25

    Does using the oil permanently leave sea glass shiny

    Reply

    • BrainofJen
      Nov 23, 2014 @ 01:38:18

      The oil is absorbed pretty quickly, so it doesn’t actually make the glass shiny at all, just gets rid of the white salt marks πŸ™‚ Hope that helps!

      Reply

  3. Kathy Wheel.
    May 03, 2016 @ 02:45:32

    I tumbled some of my beachglass in my rock tumbler to clean it up and bring out the color of the colored stones. The white frosted glass turned almost clear and the colored even though are beautiful may look like fake to my customers. I live in Vt and all my glass is handpicked by me from the beaches along Lake Champlain. What do you think? It looks so pretty especially when I wire wrap it in silver but I am concerned that people may think it is fake. Thanks kathy

    Reply

    • BrainofJen
      May 03, 2016 @ 05:40:54

      Hi Kathy! My polishing method is mostly meant to take care of the salty finish, so I think it would probably have the same effect on your glass as the tumbler did, since beach glass, coming from fresh water, is quite a bit cleaner than sea glass that’s been sitting in saltwater for decades. However, in my experience at least, I’ve found beach glass to be a little rougher around the edges than sea glass, so a bit of tumbling to smooth out the edges is probably a good idea πŸ™‚ Maybe you could take a few snaps while you’re at the beach collecting so people know it’s genuine? Plus I’m sure some people will be delighted to see the precise spot their beautiful new piece of jewelry came from πŸ™‚

      Reply

  4. avstron
    Sep 23, 2016 @ 12:18:08

    OMG thanks you saved my collection. I had a very dark, beautiful piece ruined by all the sand and it turned out beautiful! I’m so rubbing olive oil on each piece, I’d tried with wax but it wasn’t working!

    Reply

  5. Sherry
    Oct 31, 2016 @ 00:27:10

    What about clean nail polish?

    Reply

    • BrainofJen
      Oct 31, 2016 @ 21:08:42

      I’ve never tried that, but I imagine it would work as long as you don’t mind having a permanent shine on the glass. If you ever try it, let me know how it turns out! πŸ™‚

      Reply

  6. Candy
    Apr 08, 2017 @ 11:54:11

    Thank you so so much for the tip on oil to removed salt. I just started collecting from a beautiful beach in the Pacific island of Guam, my home πŸ™‚ . Little jewels in the sand loose the sparkle when dry. I am retired now and this will be one of the top hobbies for me. I LOVE the look of Sea Glass even while (for NOW) it’s on all laid out on 4 of my 5 inch window sills to catch the sun during the day, until I actually start my 1st project. So far probably 15-20 pounds in total of maybe only 14 hours collection time. Having my breakfast-lunch in a shadey spot on the beach, my free therapy. Love the thought that these pieces were once garbage and the sea has brought back for salvation…now will be admired and re-used for something beautiful others will enjoy is such a win win for all. Thank you so much for advice on removing the salt. Candy

    Reply

    • BrainofJen
      Apr 08, 2017 @ 13:05:43

      That sounds lovely, Candy! I’d love to see your finished projects once you decide what to do with them! So many possibilities πŸ™‚
      Glad I could help, thanks for sharing!

      Reply

  7. Jeremy Hurter
    Mar 20, 2018 @ 10:17:09

    If you are drilling glass, try and do it underwater. Get a small container and so the glass is just under the surface. Drill into a piece of wood etc to save your bit. The water gets rid of the glass dust and keeps the bit cool.

    Reply

  8. Caroline M. Brown
    Mar 21, 2018 @ 17:09:13

    What IS “J Cloth”?

    Reply

  9. Victoria Lamb
    Nov 22, 2018 @ 00:01:40

    Thankyou Oliver oil here I come.

    Reply

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