Caring For Go Stones

    Keywords: Equipment

Having purchased some attractive go stones, one will want to care for them properly to maintain their aesthetic appeal. This page describes the methods of doing so.

Table of contents

Clam shell (white stones)

The main issue with this material is its sensitivity to acid such as oil (from skin, board, black stones, ...)

  • First time, wash stones; according to [ext] rgg, the water should not be too hot!
  • wash stones with a dry, 100% cotton cloth after play: natural oils from skin do no good to clam shell
  • wax to keep a protective layer


Options to wash stones:

  • fresh egg white
  • mild detergent in tepid water
  • soapy water is fine too
  • try to avoid soaps with perfumes and dyes
  • milk? (not sure: contains fat)
  • hydrogen peroxide? (H2O2)

User - Aselan: I use Kaiser Natron (following link leads to a german page, I'll give a description after the link so that you can look for local products) [ext] it binds and neutralizes acid and is very mildly alkaline. So this is perfect for clamshell. It's pure sodium Hydrogen carbonate, also known as sodium bicarbonate, bicarbonate of soda or baking soda. In germany you can get it in some supermarkets or in the pharmacy, chemist's or drugstore.

On using hydrogen peroxide (H2O2):

user - Aselan: I found a nice website with a good description on how to clean stones that turned yellow after intensive use (with the result that they're white again) and how to apply the wax and which to use: [ext] My research on the cleaning process showed that H2O2 reacts in a way that an acid is created. Also the H2O2 is stabilized usually with 10% phosphoric acid to make it safe for private use. So this is kind of aggressive. Following what I learned, shorter periods within the H2O2 and repeated more often could be better for the cell, but I'm not sure. Also what I found are dental strips to whiten teeth. They have H2O2 too. One could put them on the stones. Following the descriptions of the strips, it preserves the teeth, so it might be better for the stones too. Only it gets a bit pricy. I think caring well for the stones is probably the best thing to do.

See also this AGA article [ext] How to Clean Go Stones


  • rinse thoroughly
  • consider final rinse with distilled water
  • beware of temperature changes
  • leave stones to dry overnight (note that with harder water, you risk leaving calcium residue behind)

Note: consider testing and balancing water pH (Any pet store or place that sells fish should have pH test kits for 5-10 dollars (US); once measured, water pH should not change much in your area). check that the chemical does not interact with Calcium Carbonate (main component of clam shell)

waxing white stones

  • put wax (white powder, ibotaro) in a plastic bag and gently shake around
  • acid-free wax polish made from mineral oils (stuff used for polishing cars is acid-free, mineral-oil-based and microcristalline, so it should be ok)
  • car shampoo soap with wax?
  • Carnauba Wax (see Links below)
  • in case stones become especially sticky or difficult to clean, seek the assistance of a specialist


One can get carried away in an attempt to preserve stones; best is to keep an eye on them and just wash from time to time.

  • remember
    • think of oil from board or hands - that's why both should be clean
    • keep stones in their respective bowls, preferrably in a protective cloth (see [ext] rgg)
    • don't use natural oils or waxes such as bee's wax - it is ok for some time, but will destroy the surfaces of shell stones after 3 or 4 decades
    • oil-based soaps?
  • contamination happens (oil gets transferred indirectly from black to white stones; a bit extreme, admitted... a way to avoid this is to use your other hand to manipulate prisoner stones)
    • while handling prisoner stones of the other color
    • when doing reviews and playing both sides
    • when switching sides (you play Black, then you play White)
  • avoid excessive temperatures (or temperature changes: think of washing - rinsing)

User-Aselan: I had the trouble that my white clamshell stones got scratched on the surface, when a friend of mine rubbed them in his hands together with black stones while analyzing the game. Now these scratches aren't nice to look at. And also the stones lost brilliance and shininess. About 20 stones are affected. So I asked the producer of the stones for advice. Here's the answer I got: First clean the stones as usual to remove dirt. In case of deeper scratches on the surface, the stones can be scraped off with sandpaper. Use very fine sandpaper. IMPORTANT: Note that the shape will change slightly and the surface loses its gloss. But you can also first try another method that works for fine scrates and will be applied to the stones (which were scraped with sandpaper) to restore the gloss: Since the surface of Clamshell Stones is coated with "Ibotarou"(Ibota Wax), you can restore its shininess with reapplying the wax. Therefore please put it in a bag with the affected stones (only white stones) and rub the stone from the outside of the bag. By rubbing these stones that way, the wax will spread. Then just polish both sides of each stone with a cotton cloth. If all this doesn't work, there are always stones available for replenishment by the manufacturer.

I found Ibota Wax on the japanese amazon site. You can make an account and order it internationally. Just received the wax from the order I placed arround a week ago. [ext]

if you want the wax to be pure white: [ext]

I bought both. The snow white wax is indeed a little bit more white without a slight yellow. So I will use that on my white stones... --- I've put the wax in a bag and then added the stones. Realized I had o crush the wax first. Then again putting stones into it and rubbing. I think I've put too much wax into the plastic bag. The stones ended up having a lot of wax on them. First I rubbed off the wax which was attached in bigger "clumbs and chunks". Then I tried different cloths for polishing. Cotton with a wool-like surface worked best to both remove chunks and polish at the same time. I had fo experiment to find the best technique. Still a lot of work, but the stones look like new! All cratches were removed! I'm so glad it worked.

Slate (black stones)

  • First time, wash stones in warm soapy water
  • Do not use a metal strainer or container for washing or rinsing because the metal rubs off onto the stones
  • Leave stones to dry overnight
  • use a few drops of oil to bring back their original lustre
    • mineral, or even better: light machine oil (barber's or sewing machine shop)
    • store machine oil away from light (it can turn brownish gum and become unusable)
    • there would exist special oil for slate floors
  • put in a plastic bag with a few drops of oil and gently shake around
  • remove oil with a clean cotton cloth so that a thin protective coating is left behind


  • warm soapy water


  • hot water and soap; just let it soak



  • Put the stones in a ziplock bag.
  • Fill the bag with warm water.
  • Put in a few drops of mild soap (such as [ext] Dr.Bronner's).
  • Swish the water in the bag, rubbing the stones that are especially dirty.
  • Empty the bag into a non-metallic strainer.
  • Dry each stone with a clean towel.


Caring For Go Stones last edited by 2a02:8071:06c9:e600 on April 19, 2022 - 18:50
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