best rocks for tumbling

Here is our review of the best rocks for tumbling in 2022. 

If you’ve tumbled rocks in the past with a great rock tumbler kit and have used something like jasper, with its orange colors, or agates, you’ve probably noticed how beautiful they can turn out after putting a polish on them in your tumbler. 

For days we analyzed dozens of rocks. From agate to quartz, and even petrified wood, we found out that not all rocks work well in a tumbler. 

For everybody to get the most out of their tumblers, the rocks are maybe the most important factor to take into consideration. This is because only certain types of rocks are great for tumbling, and for a fact, we know that finding the right rocks can be tough. 

That’s why we concluded that our best overall pick for rock tumbling is the Crystal Allies 3 Pound Madagascar Mix. We like it because it brings a variety of great rocks to your door and into your tumbler.

Three pounds of rock means about 40 pieces– agate, lapis, and others. This mix is great for rock tumbling aficionados and beginners alike. If you’ve never tumbled before, you’re still likely to get really satisfying results.

However, other types of rocks might work best for you depending on your experience and equipment.

Here’s a list of our favorites.

Our Top Picks For Rocks To Tumble Compared

Crystal Allies 3 Pound Madagascar Rock Tumbler Mix
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Fantasia Materials 9-lb. Premium World Stone Mix
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The Best Rocks For Tumbling Reviewed

Best Overall Rocks For Your Rock Tumbler: Crystal Allies 3 Pound Madagascar Rock Tumbler Mix

The best all-around set of rough rock has to be the Crystal Allies 3 Pound Madagascar Mix. If you’ve been a rock hound for some time, you already know this: a Madagascar mix gives you the most variety in a pack of rough rock. 

And even if you buy a larger lot, this mix provides you with the opportunity to find at least eight different kinds of rocks, all great tumbling rough.

In searching for the best for tumble rocks, we sorted through many different products and found many that offered variety and quality, but Crystal Allies packages the better rocks. Since we know we can’t tumble well without proper raw materials, we all want to start with the best.

When you get ready to fill your tumbler with rough and whatever rock tumbling materials you prefer, you want rough rocks that will give you some nice results. After all, tumbling a river rock might smooth it out, and yeah, neat. But a Madagascar mix puts a semiprecious gemstone in your hands. There may also be some petrified wood in your pack.

This package from Crystal Allies comes straight from Madagascar, not just from some area near there. The stones indigenous to that exotic place include lapis, citrine, jasper, and amethyst, to mention only a few, but these few are gorgeous rocks even in their in-the-rough state. Once you’ve tumbled even one of them, you’ll be glad you found them.

We also love that we didn’t have to go out and hunt these down in the wild. Sure, all the rocks on this list can appear in your mailbox like these can, and with the click of a mouse, but the fact remains that few of us can pop on over to Madagascar for a rockhound day, and scour the screen at your local rock climbing locale isn’t likely to yield a lucky break and a chunk of fluorite rock.

Best Tumbling Rocks For Kids: Mookaitedecor 1-lb. Raw Crystals and Gems

What’s the best way to get kids interested in and excited about tumbling? Have them use their rock tumblers to produce polished stones that are beautiful and striking. Watch them realize, “I did that!” Then get ready for them to ask you for another rock or two so they can do it again.

Mookaitedecor provides one pound of rough rocks about an inch in diameter, so you can expect a few kinds of popular tumbling rocks, like kunzite crystals, tiger eye, agate, black tourmaline, sodalite, labradorite, and rose quartz, to name a few. 

You may not get every single kind of rock, and you’ll definitely get some duplicates, but who will complain that they got an extra piece of amazonite rock straight from the Amazon river? Besides, it’s good tumbling rough, and having good stuff will help hook their interest in the hobby.

Also great about this pack is that you can get the variety pack, or you can select a one-pound bag of one kind of rock. This means you can, perhaps, use the tumbled rocks in some jewelry-making or similar endeavor.

Best For Larger Rock Polishing Projects: Fantasia Materials 9-lb. Premium World Stone Mix

Fantasia Materials offers this large bag of rocks for those who need more significant amounts of rough for their rock tumbling projects. This nine-pound bag’s pieces range from one and two inches in diameter. That size of rock means a nine-pound pack will have about 150 rocks or more. 

Because Fantasia Materials sources these rocks from multiple locations, you can expect a wide variety of other rocks in the bag— stones from Asia, South America, and Africa. 

There are Madagascar mixed stones here, and having the rocks from other continents with their different geological histories means you get true variety when you place this order. Rose quartz, green aventurine, petrified wood– a rock like any of these might end up in your haul.

Even without the large variety, we’d still be talking about a bunch of rocks, so again, for your larger projects, this nine-pound pack is ideal. A jewelry-maker or wire wrapper who depends on a rock tumbler will find all they need right here.

While you’ll spend a little more money for this larger pack, you’ll see a much greater variety of great colors, meaning you can go past the more common brown and gray stones and find some purple, blue, even yellow agates.

What To Look For When Buying Rocks and Minerals For Tumbling

One big misconception about the rock tumbling process is that the rough is a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. The truth is that most rocks aren’t really cut out for tumbling. 

The main thing to look for is a non-porous stone, a rock that doesn’t feel gritty or grainy to the touch. Any visible fractures will presage the rock falling apart as it’s tumbled, as will any visible voids.

There are three main kinds of rocks in the world: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. In general, you should avoid sedimentary rocks as tumbling material. Instead of smoothing out, they will be more prone to crumbling. Tumble them long enough, and you’ll just end up with a bunch of smaller, still rough stones.

Many metamorphic rocks are unsuitable, but not all. Lapis is a blue metamorphic rock, but it ends up being a great rock for tumbling.

The Hardness of Rough Rock

When geologists rate a rock’s hardness, they use the Mohs hardness scale, named for the German mineralogist who came up with it, Friedrich Mohs. 

He designated ten minerals of increasing hardness and gave each a rating from one to ten, with ten being the hardest. Not surprisingly, the diamond– a lovely gemstone, but also the hardest stone– received the ten. Talc sits at the softer end of the scale at one.

When we look for stones or other minerals to tumble, we look for harder ones. Ideally, rocks rated at a hardness level between five and seven on the Mohs hardness scale. Rocks in this range yield a lovely polish. Soft rocks won’t get as glossy. 

The tumbling media will round off the sharp edges of softer rocks, but to have a rock that’s more than just smoother, but rather shines, you need hard rocks.

More Than Just Rocks

Remember when selecting the tumbling materials that you have lots of choices. Quartz is technically not a rock but rather part of the matter that comprises other rocks. Even so, many varieties of quartz end up in rock tumblers and come out quite pretty. 

Rose quartz and white quartz are popular, as are agates, which are a type of microcrystalline quartz. White quartz with a good polish will have a vitreous luster, and some quartz can even polish to an opalescent luster.

There’s also petrified wood. It polishes really well to a smooth texture and can produce a polished piece with beautiful grains and patterns with gray and brown tones. You can find some rich, great colors in these pieces, and they started out not as stones, but trees.

Types of Tumblers

Most beginners start out with a rotary tumbler. It’s basically a drum that gets filled with rough and some tumbling material, then set to do its thing and left alone. Tumbling time for a rotary tumbler is measured in days. This kind of rock tumbler will knock off sharp edges and will make the stones smoother after they’ve been tumbled.

Vibratory tumblers are a bit more advanced. They do not change the shape of a stone inside it as a rotary tumbler does, but rather just polishes the rough. If you have one of each, you can do your coarse grind in your rotary tumbler, then move to the vibratory unit for the polishing stage. Incidentally, tumbling time in a vibratory tumbler is much shorter than in a rotary.

Sizes

Unless you’re tumbling for large projects, like supplying a jewelry maker with a steady stream of rocks to be set, small tumblers will probably serve you well. A small tumbler might be listed as a three-pound tumbler, which indicates its capacity and not its weight. A three-pound rock tumbler will tumble two pounds of rocks. The other pound will be water and grit to help break down the rough parts.

There are also double-barrel units that allow you to tumble rocks in different stages at the same time or simply double your output.

Our Verdict

Finding the best pieces of material from the earth’s crust to add to your rock tumbler makes it much more likely that you’ll have success and get some enjoyment out of it. Once you polish an agate or a piece of jasper or quartz and see a lovely blue, yellow, or any other pretty color shining at you, you can get a lot of enjoyment out of tumbling.

But you have to have the right material to do it well, and we don’t just mean the grit and material you need to help the rock tumbler shape and polish the stones. If you have a stone unsuited for tumbling, you won’t have as much enjoyment, and if things go badly, you could face the additional cost of repairing or replacing your rock tumbler.

Crystal Allies 3 Pound Madagascar Mix fits this bill. Having these rocks at the ready means you have the best material for your project– not only stones best suited for it but a variety of colors and types of stone. Get yours today and get ready for great tumbling.

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