Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaners – What are they?
The term “ultrasonic” refers to a high frequency sound wave. These waves travel through air at speeds up to several miles per hour (km/h). They can cause vibrations in objects that are close enough to them. When these sounds hit a metal object, it causes tiny scratches or other damage to the surface of the metal.
There are two types of ultrasonic cleaners: one uses sound waves with frequencies between 20 Hz and 40 kHz; the other uses sound waves with frequencies above 20 kHz. The higher the frequency, the greater the impact. If you have ever used a vacuum cleaner, you may remember how powerful those high-frequency sounds were. Those high-pitched noises could easily break glass if they hit your face right next to it!
Additionally, the high-frequency waves can reflect off of hard surfaces and potentially damage other objects in the vicinity.
The 20 to 40 kHz ultrasonic cleaners are less powerful and are not as damaging as the high-frequency devices. They also operate on a lower power setting. These devices are safer for cleaning delicate materials like sterling silver. They are also easier to design because they do not require a generator or other complex power source.
There are several types of ultrasonic jewelry cleaners. The two most common types are bench or table-top cleaners and portable cleaners. Bench or table-top cleaners are heavy pieces of equipment that are meant to be placed on a table or other flat work surface. They are generally large and bulky, but they can hold more rings, necklaces, and other jewelry at one time.
Portable cleaners are smaller but do not hold as much jewelry at one time. They are designed to be carried to a sink or bathtub where you can immerse smaller items in a liquid cleaner.
The third type of cleaner is the necklace and ring holders. These are stands that hold different size rings and necklaces vertically. You put jewelry in each ring, add a few drops of cleaning solution, and then place the stand in a sink or bathtub. The solutions will clean and sanitize the jewelry while it is being suspended in the liquid.
How do they Work?
The way an ultrasonic cleaner works is very simple. A machine contains a small, transducer at the bottom which converts electrical energy into mechanical energy and back into electrical energy again. This process creates high-frequency sound waves that can remove dirt from objects through the principle of cavitation.
Cavitation occurs when tiny air bubbles form in the fluid and implode, creating a vacuum or empty space where the air bubble used to be. In this case, the transducer causes the bubbles to implode on the surface of whatever is being cleaned. This process removes dirt, grime, and other materials from the object.
Most of these cleaners come with a slip cover and a stand. This stand should be filled with a cleaning solution to immerse the objects you wish to clean. If you do not have enough room in the tank for all of the objects you want to clean, you will need to refill the tank and then empty it before moving the cleaner and stand to the next location.
Most experts recommend using a non-iodized salt or an electronic cleaner for polishing jewelry.
Because these devices use ultrasound, the potential for hearing damage is always a risk. Always wear ear protection when operating one of these devices. As we mentioned earlier, these devices can also be damaging to your eyes if you shine a bright light on them while they are in use. Always wear a pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes from possible damage.
These machines can also be loud and damage hearing so it is always wise to use ear protection. In fact, some newer devices include ear protection as part of the design.
How to Use an Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner
An ultrasonic cleaner is fairly easy to use. First, you should always read the manual that comes with your cleaner to learn the best way to use it for your needs. Then, all you need to do is fill the tank or basin with a cleaning solution and add your jewelry. Then, you just need to turn it on and wait.
Most devices will automatically shut themselves off when the cycle is complete.
It can take a little while for the tanks to fill and empty so you should plan ahead when cleaning a lot of jewelry. For instance, if you have a lot of bracelets and bangles that need cleaning, it might be best to fill the tank and then empty it before bed. Then, you can let it fill again while you sleep and empty it in the morning while you are getting ready for work.
Most jewelry should be cleaned at least once a month, but some pieces should be cleaned more often. For instance, diamond rings and earrings should be cleaned every time you wear them to prevent oils and dirt from your hands from building up on the gemstones over time.
Cleaning pearls is also a good idea since body oils and dirt can build up on them and cause cosmetic damage. It is best to clean pearl earrings and other pieces at least once a month, although you should clean them after wearing them for special occasions. It is also possible to put your jewelry in a zip lock bag with some water and a few drops of dish soap. Then, you just need to shake the bag to clean and polish the jewelry.
If you have a lot of costume jewelry that you do not wear on a regular basis, you can place the pieces in the bag and store them in a cool, dry place so they do not get tarnished. This is also a good way to store large quantities of jewelry that you plan on taking with you when you move to another home.
Where to Buy an Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner
If you are looking to purchase an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, you have several options. You can find them at many big box discount stores and even some grocery stores. These are great for occasional at-home use, but may not be powerful enough for regular professional use.
If you plan on using one of these devices regularly, it might be a good idea to buy one from a jeweler. They can be a little pricier than those found at discount stores, but they are made with higher quality materials and are often more powerful. They are also made to last longer and are easier to operate.
You can also find these machines for sale online. Many of these models are made for professional use so they are even more powerful and durable. You can also find many different types and styles so you can get one that meets all of your needs. They also feature larger tanks so they can be used for longer periods of time before needing to be emptied.
Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaners are great for cleaning jewelry at home or at a professional cleaning station. They are easy to use and can effectively clean pieces in a short amount of time so you can put your best jewelry forward. No matter what style of cleaner you are looking for, there is sure to be a machine that will meet all of your needs.
This page was written by Jennifer C and updated on March 30, 2015.
Sources & references used in this article:
Ultrasonic cleaning device for fragile heat-sensitive articles by M Cummins, T Hankins, R Best, F Biesecker – US Patent 3,720,402, 1973 – Google Patents
Vibra-watch and jewelry cleaner by FJ Murphy – US Patent 3,352,311, 1967 – Google Patents
Kit for cleaning jewelry and other small parts by J Frankson – US Patent 6,076,538, 2000 – Google Patents