A Closer Look

Updated Jan 2, 2010

metal-polishMetal Polish

The gorgeous glow you see on the CNN anchors’ faces may come from the same stuff that enables your favorite polish to make your fuel tanks gleam. Key ingredients in facial dermabrasion peels, popular among beauty die-hards, are also active in leading polishes for chrome, aluminum and stainless.



ALUMINUM OXIDE, second in hardness only to diamonds, is a superfine abrasive that makes chrome shine and prevents other polish materials from separating. It has been a boon for cosmetic products such as skin peels, face masques and creams, and teeth whiteners. An inert and non-cancer causing substance, it’s also in grouts, concrete mixes and silver polish.

KAOLIN CLAY, referred to as China clay, is a key ingredient in established brands Meguiar’s, Mothers and Eagle One. Like aluminum oxide, it acts as a superfine abrasive and, being inert, is in food additives, school glue, glossy paper and porcelain. It’s also in Kaopectate, which is used to treat diarrhea, indigestion and nausea. Truckers haul it from quarries in Sandersville, Ga., where the locals celebrate an annual kaolin festival.

SOLVENTS are used in most chrome polishes, as they are in many household products, paints and nail polish remover. They remove grease and tarnish. Most chrome freaks work in a well-ventilated space to avoid fumes from these petroleum distillates that can cause nausea or dizziness. n