Polish (material)

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A liquid or powder used to smooth and shine a surface. Metal polishes often contain fine abrasives (iron oxide, graphite). Furniture polishes may contain abrasives (horsetail, pumice, charcoal, chalk, fish skin), vegetable waxes (carnauba, candelilla), oils (lemon oil, walnut oil) and solvents. Nail polishes usually have a cellulose nitrate base.

Synonyms and Related Terms

polisher; polishing powder; buffing compound

Hazards and Safety

Many polishing formulations are flammable


Properties of Common Abrasives

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Anne Grimmer, Glossary of Building Stone Terms, A Glossary of Historic Masonry Deterioration Problems and Preservation Treatments, National Park Service, Washington DC, 1984
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998