Ionic cleaning – Never heard of it – or unsure how it works?
First, I will give you a quick run down on using the Ionic system.
It's pretty easy really. The basic unit, of the type I use, is like a small cauldron. It runs on one 9 volt battery. On the bottom, inside the unit, is a round aluminum plate. This creates a reaction with the solution you pour into the unit.
This solution is diluted with water. Only a small amount is mixed with water, typically 1 part concentrate to 6 parts water.
Once you have this set up you are ready to clean! If you are only cleaning one piece, all you do is to attach it to the unit's crocodile clip. If you have several pieces to clean, you can do them all in one go by placing them in the stainless steel wire basket that comes with the unit.
Although you can fill the basket up with jewelry, I have found, for best results each piece should not touch another. A little tip, when cleaning the likes of chains, you get best results by dipping section by section into the solution.
When you have everything ready, sit the item or basket in the solution you activate the unit by pressing a little red button on the side of the unit. Remove after whatever time period, rinse thoroughly and dry. That's basically it!
The amount of time to keep an item in the solution depends on a few things. The main point being the type of metal, sterling silver, other silver and base metal takes the least amount of time to clean. An exact time is difficult to pinpoint as it depends on the amount of tarnish or dirt on the piece. The average time is approximately 10 seconds – yes – only 10 seconds. Gold items, whether solid, plated, rolled / filled or whatever takes longer. Again, exact time depends on tarnish, etc., the average being 20 seconds. I have found the best way to approach all cleaning in the unit is to dip, rinse and check every 5 to 10 seconds and repeat as many times as necessary to get the best results.
As I said, there are other factors to consider though if you follow the dip, rinse, dip method you really can not go wrong. The worst thing to do is thinking that an item is so dirty, I'll leave it in for a minute or two – maybe even 3 minutes. This can result in damage through over exposure. Stick to seconds for each dip.
I have used this method on my jewelry for quite some time now and over time you get to know how long it takes for the various metals and concentrations of tarnish, dirt, etc.,
The results I have experienced on cubic zirconia stones is nothing short of fantastic, what a sparkle they have after cleaning! I have also cleaned some old and very dirty pieces with good results. Sometimes perfect results are not achievable if an item is so far gone, but certainly far superior results than using many other methods. Ionic cleaning gets into every nook and cranny.
Using this type of unit gives you cleaning and polishing in one easy step. It is a form of electro polishing. The Ionic system uses polishing agents and gentle soap cleansers to remove tarnish and dirt with a safe bubbling action. These bubbles are formed by the carefully controlled electrical current that passes through metals reducing surface tension of dirt and floating it and tarnish away – instantly. Restores metal lustre and stone brilliance. It is a safe cleaner for emeralds, opals, pearls and is an especially good cleaner for diamonds, really makes them sparkle.
The reason it is so good for so many stones is that the cleaning solution contains no acids or ammonia, it is also odorless. Using the same solution, you can clean gold, silver, gold-filled and costume jewelery.
Note: I have heard that drusy (quartz crystal) stones should not be cleaned in an ionic cleaner because of their delicate crystal structure. I have not tested that theory, but I do not recommend ionic cleaning of drusy unless you can first test a small piece of it that you do not mind messing up if it gets damaged. Always test small items or areas if unsure!
- Now, a little more in depth information about the cleaning solution
The concentrate is an odorless cleaning solution an effective, fast-acting degreaser, which also removes oxidation and brightens metal to a like-new finish. It acts as the electrolyte in the ionic cleaning process and can be used repeatedly before it needs to be replaced. Dilution for general cleaning is 1 part concentrate to 6 parts water.
It contains no caustic chemicals or ammonia, which makes it safe to the user and the environment.
- The Basic Ionic Way
Ionic Cleaners work by electrolysis. Ions are attached to dirt and grease rather than metals and stones. Surface tension is reduced permitting dirt, tarnish and oxidation to be lifted away from jewelery or other metal pieces with gentle bubbles without abrasion. No metal is lost. Stones are safely cleaned without potentially damaging friction, heat or abrasion that other cleaners produce. Rinsing and drying after immersion naturally gains renewed lustre.
- How does it differ from an ultrasonic?
Ultrasonic cleaners use cavitation to bombard items with sound waves. This can be damaging to some stones and can extremely damage some metals. Ultrasonic cleaners have their place in manufacturing shops, and even there, ionic cleaners are used as the final brightening step in the polishing process. Ionic cleaners are used for ultimate safety in gemstone cleaning.
I hope that helps in de-mystifying the Ionic process!