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When you use rock tumblers, you will undoubtedly need various types of grit to complete all the rock-tumbling processes. At the end of your work, you will have plenty of used grit and slurry on your hands, so what do you do with it? Pour it down the drains, throw it in your yard? Well, you need to get rid of it safely.
Don’t pour your rock-tumbling slurry or used grit down the drain, no matter how tempting it may be. The slurry will act like cement and harden, resulting in clogged pipes that are very expensive to repair. Instead, you can use the slurry as a fertilizer for your plants and throw the grit in the trash container.
Many other proven safety tips exist for disposing of rock-tumbling grit and slurry. But let’s see precisely what these remains do so you can better understand how to dispose of them and discuss other disposal techniques that might suit your location.
If you want to check out the best grits for rock tumbling you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
What to Do with Rock Tumbler Slurry?
Rock tumbler slurry isn’t hard to dispose of, but you will need some patience. You can usually put it into a container to let it completely dry out. This process can take a couple of days, depending on how much slurry there is, how big the container is, and the overall humidity and temperature.
Once the water evaporates from the slurry, you will be left with a cement-like material that is easy to break. Break the slurry into more minor remnants and throw it in the trash. Use a larger container to speed the process and keep some slurry because you might be able to use it in your next batch of tumbling rocks.
You can use it at the beginning of your rock-tumbling process to make your new slurry thicken faster. Another thing you can do is pour the slurry into your gravel driveway, yard, or woods. Use a colander to filter the slurry and keep the tumbling media and rocks.
If you are concerned that there will be dead spots in your yard, you can first experiment on a small patch of land and see the results.
Slurry doesn’t permanently damage the grass because it depends on what type of grit and rocks you use. It doesn’t damage it; it prevents sunlight from getting to the plant or blocking its airflow. You can wash the area later and see how your grass is doing in the following days.
If you have a gravel driveway, consider yourself lucky. Pouring slurry there or in other gravel areas near your home is a great way to dispose of it because it will sift through and blend with the gravel.
This way, you can quickly get rid of your slurry, but at some point, you will need other options, especially if you always tumble rocks.
TIP: Our recommendations on the best rock tumbling grits on the market are (Amazon links):
Is Rock Tumbling Grit Toxic?
Many people that like to tumble rocks often wonder if the rock-tumbling grit is toxic or if the rock-tumbling slurry is toxic. It’s natural to ask such questions because we must care about the environment and our health even when we enjoy our hobbies.
Neither rock-tumbling grit nor rock-tumbling slurry is toxic because it is a product of natural processes. They contain safe compounds, rock impurities, water, and spent grit. You will find elements such as silicon, carbide, tin oxide, chrome, oxide, and aluminum in your rock tumbler grit.
These elements are safe to use because they are all naturally occurring. It’s not like you are throwing paint on the soil, which does have toxic components. Slurry, for example, can even be used as a plant fertilizer.
Your used-up rock tumbling grit has many valuable minerals for plants, but don’t pour too much because you can damage your plants by over-fertilizing.
Leave enough space not to cover the base of the plant thoroughly. In other instances, you can get rid of your slurry by digging up some holes in the soil and burying it there.
You don’t need to worry about your lawn because grassroots don’t go too deep. Before burying the slurry, just let its water content evaporate first and then cover it with dirt.
Another thing you must keep in mind is what rocks you are tumbling on because although rock tumbling grit and slurry isn’t toxic, it doesn’t mean they can’t be harmful. You should be aware of some risks because it depends on the rocks you work with.
For example, bumblebee jasper contains arsenic. You must understand your rock’s composition to decide how to dispose of the tumbling grit and slurry.
If your rocks have potentially toxic materials, the best way to dispose of the remains is by throwing them into the trash after evaporating the water. The slurry contains a lot of silica dust, which in the short term, isn’t harmful.
However, repeated exposure to this type of dust can cause silicosis or pneumoconiosis. You can still bury it but take some extra precautions while doing so.
Silicon carbide can also irritate your eyes or nose on contact, so you should always wash your hands and face several times while disposing of the remains. You can wear a mask to ensure these tiny dust particles won’t harm your lungs.
If you have children or pets, keep them away from your slurry and grit while you dispose of them. In some instances, animals were reported to eat it.
Although no deaths have been reported because of this, we do not know what will happen if they continue to eat it, so it’s best to avoid this scenario so all parties involved are happy.
TIP: The best places to put your rock tumbler include your garage, basement, closet, or shed. Check out the safe options for placing your rock tumbler in the article below:
Rock Tumblers: Where to Put Them & Proven Safety Tips
How to Dispose of Rock Tumbling Grit?
Each time you tumble rocks, you must deal with the rock-tumbling grit left over. There is no way around it, and you can’t just throw it away on public lands since there are dumping laws that you must adhere to as well.
Instead, you can bury your rock-tumbling grit in your garden and place dirt above it so you won’t have to deal with silica dust inhalation issues. You can also put it in a container to dry out; once it does, it will have a muddy texture. You can scrape that texture in the garden, bury it, or put it in a plastic bin liner.
Then, you can throw the remains in the thrash. The bag will be heavy, and you will have some leaking risks if you don’t wait for the water to evaporate.
Use a plastic jar, an old ice cream container, a Tupperware container, or anything of the sort and throw it in the trash. The most important thing is to separate the grit and slurry from the water.
TIP: Some mineral oils are better for rock tumbling and polishing. Check out the best ones in the article below:
Guide: 3 Best Mineral Oils for Rock Tumbling & Polishing
Can You Reuse Rock Tumbling Grit?
You can reuse rock tumbling slurry after waiting for it to dry and smashing it into small pieces as a starter in your next round of rocks.
Use the cement-textured pieces in your first stage of rock tumbling to help thicken the slurry faster and more effectively. However, when it comes to reusing rock-tumbling grit, things are a bit different.
You should not reuse rock tumbling grit because it’s impossible to separate rock particles, dirt, and even plant material from the used-up grit. Even small amounts of rocks bigger than the grit particles will be more than enough to ruin your next batch of rocks. Getting any consistency is hard with reused grit.
The good news is that you won’t damage your tumbling machine if you’ve already begun using grit from your previous session.
Rockhounds that reuse rock tumbling grit usually ensure that they rinse the slurry and let the water evaporate thoroughly. Once this happens, the dry grit can be used in the tumbling process again, but there are some issues.
First, as mentioned earlier, particles from previous rocks can hinder the process making your reused grit less effective. If the grit isn’t practical, it will translate into more tumbling time for your next rocks.
More tumbling time means more energy consumption, but there is one last con: the grit no longer has as many sharp edges and angles as it did the first time you used it.
So this means even more tumbling is required to get some results. But as always, you can try and see how it goes. If you are satisfied with the results, you will dispose of at least a part of your rock-tumbling grit and slurry.
But can you reuse that grit again and again? If you are satisfied with the results of your first batch of tumbled rocks with reused grit, you shouldn’t take it further.
Each time you reuse the grit translates into more tumbling time and energy consumption, and the results won’t be as great as the first time.
All in all, you will have to spend more money on energy and might even end up with some rocks that aren’t tumbled at all. With the time and money invested in doing this, you could have disposed of the grit and slurry in a dozen more practical ways.
TIP: Check out the article below if you want to know more about reusing tumbling grit:
Can Rock Tumbler Grit Be Reused? You Should Know This
Where to Dispose of Rock Tumbling Slurry?
Disposing of your rock-tumbling slurry strictly depends on the area you live in and the possibilities you have. As mentioned earlier, this material isn’t toxic, and the best way to deal with it is to use it as a plant fertilizer if you have a garden.
You must be careful if you proceed this way and not spread it too thickly on the plants. Don’t put it directly on your plants, and don’t cover the area near the base. Instead, try to spread little by little to each plant, and if you have outdoor pets, ensure they won’t be able to reach the slurry.
|Five Methods of Disposing of Rock Tumbling Grit and Slurry|
|Dry the slurry and throw the dried slurry in the trash containers|
|Pour the slurry into your gravel driveway or other gravel areas, yard, or woods|
|Dig holes in your garden and burry the slurry while also covering it with dirt|
|Use the slurry as a fertilizer for your garden plants|
|Let the grit settle at the bottom of a container, pull out the water, and throw the thickened sludge in the thrash|
These six methods of removing your rock-tumbling grit and slurry work better for some than others, so you should go through trial and error to see what works. Sometimes, you might be tempted to use other grit alternatives to avoid dealing with the disposal hassle.
However, although there are grit alternatives, none are as efficient in tumbling your rocks as silicon carbide, except perhaps silica sand in combination with sinterblast. You may have heard of other options, such as beach sand, crushed glass, etc.
However, most of these alternatives aren’t efficient, or they are too soft, and in the end, they might even ruin your batch of rocks or prove to be more costly as the tumbling time is increased.
Apart from this, even if you go with an alternative grit for your rock tumbling, you will always end up with some debris you will inevitably need to dispose of.
Can Rock Tumbler Grit Go Down the Drain?
It would be best never to pour rock tumbler grit or slurry down your drains. The material will harden, similar to cement, and block your pipelines. You must hire a plumber to solve the issue, which won’t be cheap.
Rockhounding is a hobby that requires patience. From the searching and collecting of rocks to rock tumbling, polishing, and disposal. Try one of the six methods mentioned above and see which works best in disposing of your rock tumbler grit and slurry.
TIP: Rock collectors know how hard it is to find perfect specimens for tumbling. Check out the best places for finding these rocks in the article below:
7 Best Places to Find Rocks for Tumbling in Nature