An ultrasonic cleaner or ultrasonic bath is an apparatus that uses vibration to clean dirt from the surface of objects. These equipment are usually used for the cleaning of delicate objects, such as lenses and other optical parts, coins, watches, surgical instruments, etc.
Ultrasonic baths are widely used to clean the jewelry and precise metals. Among its advantages is the fact that they can easily remove tiny dirt particles that are almost impossible to eradicate in another way, even without disassembling the pieces, saving a large amount of time and working in a precise and innocuous way.
They work very well with hard materials: diamonds with few inclusions, sapphires, rubies, gold, silver, platinum, titanium, steel … They eliminate all kinds of organic impurities, but not the result of chemical reactions such as oxidation.
However, there are several points to consider before using an ultrasonic bath with our jewelry.
It may seem obvious, but we are working with electricity, so it is more than advisable to avoid touching the water while the bathroom is working. Unplugging the device when we introduce or remove our jewelry from the bathtub is not over.
Other basic recommendations
- A bathroom should never be turned on if there is no water in it.
- The equipment should be kept in a clean and dry place.
- Always use the basket. Do not place objects directly on the bathroom floor.
- With 3-5 minutes cleaning is usually enough
- Do not worry if the appliance heats up after several minutes of use; it is usual to happen.
The temperature is a parameter to take into account. There are models of ultrasonic baths both with heating and without heating, and the latter can perfectly fulfill their purpose, but it is demonstrated that it is from 60ºC when these devices show their maximum potential, increasing the efficiency of cleaning up to 70 %.
However, it is important not to reach boiling temperatures, as these levels will almost certainly produce internal damage and even break in a multitude of materials, even in the hardest.
Although you can work only with water, it is recommended to use detergents to improve the cleaning effect. In particular, detergents without sulfates and soft, alkaline or neutral, never acidic. It is advisable to renew frequently the solution that we use for the cleaning since this one can be contaminated with the particles that remain in the bottom of the bath, getting to disable the activity of the ultrasounds.
Beware of antique jewelry
Some ancient jewels have been worked through the dirt; if it disappears, the stones break down. Those pieces that have been stuck with cement may also be affected.
Be careful with diamonds
Although diamonds are resistant and durable stones, it is risky to use an ultrasonic bath for cleaning. As the vast majority of these stones have inclusions, the vibration of the ultrasound can magnify these imperfections even to the point of breakage. The rule is clear: the greater the number of inclusions, the more danger.
Colored diamonds should not be cleaned using this technology. Most of these stones have been treated with heat to enhance the color, and ultrasonic cleaning can undo this effect.
What cannot be cleaned in an ultrasonic bath
- Pearls: They are soft and erode easily. In general, the use of ultrasound with materials of organic origin, such as corals, is not recommended.
- Soft and porous gems: Ámbar, turquoise, micas, laspislazulis, jades and in general any material below five on the Mohs scale.
- Emeralds: Although hard, emeralds are usually rich in inclusions. Also, ultrasounds can eliminate the liquids that are often used to disguise these imperfections.
- Tanzanites: Treated with heat to enhance its beautiful color, this process can be undone with ultrasound.
- Synthetic stones
- Imitation jewelry