Stains on Black Galaxy Granite

Glass-Ring Etching on Black Galaxy Granite Countertop

Glass-Ring Etching on Black Galaxy Granite Countertop


I had black galaxy granite countertops installed in my wet bar.

After one family event, there were glass ring "etched" stains all over the counter.

I've tried cleaning the granite countertops, but the spots will not come off with anything I've tried. My bar is ruined now!

What can I do to repair?


First, some background info on Black Galaxy just FYI. Black Galaxy granite is (as a general rule) very stain resistant. It is quite possibly the most bullet-proof surface on the market.

Most liquids/substances will evaporate before they'd ever stain, so there's rarely an issue cleaning granite countertops with Black Galaxy.

In fact, Black Galaxy typically cannot be sealed. Sealers just won't absorb. With marble, you will get glass rings from etching, but granite does not commonly etch.

Granite can be etched... just not easily. And some stones sold as granite will etch more easily, but these are rare.

Black Galaxy granite is not one of these and will not etch without extreme exposure to acids. Party drinks are not acidic enough to etch this natural stone.

So, it isn't the stone itself that is the problem. One of three things (or possibly a combo) is causing the "etching."

Possible problems:

1. A sealer was erroneously applied

2. The granite has been "doctored"

Applying a sealer when not needed (to a stone that cannot absorb it) will often result in a streaky/hazy film left on top.

You may not get the streaks, if the sealer was wiped off the granite countertop adequately, but the sealer residue inevitably left on the granite is sometime sensitive to acids like in alcoholic drinks, fruits, sodas, coffee, etc.

"Doctored" granite countertops are a problem with black granites. A black paint / polish / wax / dye is applied to cheaper, gray granites to make them more black, and more expensive.

This is usually a problem with absolute black and not so much with black galaxy granite. Doctored stone surfaces will readily etch from common acidic foods, drinks and products creating dull spots and "glass-rings" just like marble.

Again, it isn't the natural stone itself that is etching. It's the coating applied to the surface when "doctoring" the granite that is etching.

A third possibility is that you don't have Black Galaxy, but a "mutt" stone that contains calcite (a mineral reactive with acids and possibly prone to staining, but I doubt this is it).

Here's how you can determine if you have doctored granite or not.

Get some methylene chloride... a potent and noxious solvent usually found in "paint strippers". Won't hurt your granite countertop, but it will take off whatever is on top and along with the finish off cabinets and walls and anything else, so be careful and have good ventilation.

Or acetone... It's not as powerful, but easier to use and often works fine for testing doctored countertops.
  1. On a small area over a glass-ring, pour out a little methylene chloride (or acetone). Let is soak for a bit, then agitate/scrub the area with a soft-bristle brush. Wipe completely dry.
Notice any difference in the surface color... and/or black dye on your cloth?
  • If yes, you have doctored granite. That is fraud and you have a legal issue with the warehouse/company that sold it.

  • If no color change, is the glass-ring gone? If yes, then there was probably sealer on the surface that is causing these reactions.

Confirm the diagnosis:

Assuming you were able to strip and clean off any doctoring substance (you may want to use the methylene on this spot a couple times), then....

Spill some lemon juice on the same spot. Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe up. Any dull or light spot? There shouldn't be, since the it's directly on the granite surface.

Spill lemon juice on a spot that wasn't cleaned. Any spot? It should leave a spot, an etch mark like the glass-rings, so....

If yes, then you have your answer. There is something on the surface that needs to come off.... either sealer residue or a doctoring compound.

If a bright shiny Black Galaxy granite that doesn't etch is revealed after cleaning with methylene chloride, then it's sealer residue on the surface. Repeat the stripping process over the entire surface. This should eliminate the etching issue (for this "sealer residue" scenario).

If the color changes and you end up with a gray granite countertop after stripping off the dye with MC, then it's been doctored and I'd go back to the installer and demand a new countertop. Hopefully they will correct it. If not, you should contact a lawyer to send a letter, etc., to motivate them.

The only other options at this point are to:
  • Re-dye or re-doctor the surface

  • Apply a color-enhancing sealer, if possible

  • Live with the new gray-colored granite
Replacement is really the best way to go with a doctored granite countertop. If this is your situation, then hopefully the fabricator will accept the responsibility and do the right thing.

Nothing on the surface?

If you make it through all the above tests, trials and tribulations without any change or evidence of a substance on the surface, then you are the one-in-a-million to get stuck with a rare "mutt" granite that does etch. Nothing can be done about this. Live with it or replace it.

Be sure to do the lemon juice test for sealing granite on the new replacement slab (and any stone you intend to purchase) prior to installation, though, and you'll avoid this type of granite care nightmare with your next installation.

Comments for Stains on Black Galaxy Granite

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Black granite disaster
by: Betty

I bought my house with black granite countertops already installed so I have no information as to dealer or manufacturer of the stone.

The granite is completely black with very tiny flecks which sparkle. There is a water(?) ring and overall dullness which has increased over the last four years.

I tried several of the remedies suggested such as peroxide under saran wrap, scrubbing with acetone, mineral spirits without any change and finally tried Dicone NC9 to strip any sealer from the surface.

I tried it first on a test area and the area seemed much more shiny. I decided to try it on another area (more dull area and, of course, right in the middle of the countertop) and now the area is lighter than the rest of the countertop and no more shiny than before!!!

There was no color transfer to the cloth except a pale tan color which I thought was old sealer. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

You granite countertop is likely "black galaxy" and the dull ring suggest some type of residue was on the surface and etched.

Doctoring may have been involved, but sealer residue is a probable cause.

Dicone NC9 is highly acidic. The data sheet shows the pH as less than 1.0 which is an extremely potent acid.

Granite is not sensitive to acids commonly used around the house, however, it can still be etched by a strong acid and a pH of 1.0 is a strong acid.

You probably did have a residue that needed removing, but should have used a solvent. Since you now have a lighter area where you applied the Dicone NC9 I'm betting this product etched the granite itself.

You'll need to hire a stone restoration professional to repolish this area or it may be best to refinish the entire countertop as this would remove any coating or residue that is resulting in dull spots or rings.

Remove white stains from Black Galaxy Granite
by: Sueli Sousa

I accidently stained my black galaxy granite and tried inumerous products to remove it.
The stain was caused by a inorganic acid.

What remove it was a product called Bellinzoni Idea Dark which I bought here in Brazil.

I applied according to instructions and reapplied 3 times. Brand new. All I need to do is polish it now. Hope this works. Thank you

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Thanks for sharing! Yes, the Bellinzoni product is a type of color-enhancing sealer, which can be effective for eliminating or hiding (by coloring in) certain types of spots or scratches in some cases.

This and similar products are designed to darken the color of the stone. So, if you have a light spot from etching or scratching, the product will darken this spot to make it less visible.

The question is just if you want to have a darker surface. The degree of darkening will depend on the surface finish (polished or honed).

Typically color-enhancers are applied to honed surfaces to bring out the color more. This is the intended use of a color-enhancing sealer. But some can be use on a polished surface, which will also make the color a bit darker / richer and cover sometimes cover blemishes.

Often people do not want to change the color of the stone, so this solution is only an option if darkening the stone is acceptable.

Help! Spilled rust remover on granite
by: DeAnn

I accidentally spilled Whink Rust Stain Remover on my black granite and it took shine right off, it kind of etched it. Is there anything I can do?

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Granite will not etch easily. It is possible, but really very rare.

However, black granite is a special circumstance. Many black granite slabs these days have been "doctored". This may or may not be the case in your situation, but the info above on this page explains pretty clearly the possible causes of etching on black granite.

You can also take a look at this additional page on etching of black granite countertops.

Black Galaxy Granite
by: Anonymous

I have a new counter top and it has hazy marks on it but I don not know what foods or oils were put on it by my family. What a nightmare.

I don't know what product to use and am afraid that if i use the wrong product it will make the counter top look even worse than it does now.

I truly regret changing my old regular counter tops for this new glitzy one. I am now afraid to put anything on them. Does anyone else know what I am talking about and what to do? Joanne

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

"Hazy" films or spots are usually the result of a sealer improperly applied or applied when it should not have (like on most black galaxy granite).

So, the answer to your question is provided in the above article.

Also, see Haze from Sealing Black Granite page (click here) for additional info.

Stained black galaxy around the sink
by: siri


We built our house last year. We have black galaxy counter tops. I am having tough time maintaining them around the sink. Around the sink it looks like dirty and lost shining even though I clean it regular basis. I use Counter top spray cleaner from Stone Care Inc. Is it water or soap is staining my counter top? Need help.


Lime away
by: Ryan

Hi Marcy,

Honestly, that makes zero sense to me. I'm glad you removed whatever spots were on your granite, however, Lime Away is very acidic and is exactly the type of product that would cause etching.... not fix it.

For the record, you do not want to use such a caustic product like Lime away on any stone and they even warn against it.

Sometimes similar products can be used to remove rust stains, etc., but with the knowledge that it may cause some surface damage to the stone.

I can't explain this one except to say that most likely the spots were not an etching or a doctoring issue after all. Maybe simply hard water deposits, which the Lime Away would remove.

Whatever the problem was, I'm glad you solved it!

Rings Black Galaxy Granite
by: Marcy

I tried the varnish remover without any results. Next I used Lime remover and the etched stains just came off. Granite looks beautiful now. Go figure. I used lime on the area treated with varnish remover and other areas not treated with varnish remover. All areas were cleaned by Lime remover.

Rings Still Visible
by: Ryan

Sorry to hear that Marcy. And to clarify, you need to scrub the areas with a soft-bristle brush after letting the methylene chloride soak a bit.

I'm not saying you didn't, but the wording of your post makes it seem like you poured it on, let it sit and then wiped it off.

Now that may take off some of the sealer or doctoring dye, but they are meant to be permanent, so you really have to work it to get it off.

If you did scrub and scrub and still no change, then you'll have to hire a stone restoration professional to re-finish the surface.

If the black galaxy was neither sealed nor doctored and thus has nothing "on" the surface that could etch, then the only other explanation I could give is that the stone is not actually "black galaxy."

How could that be? Well, some stones are much more popular than others, so importers may call something "black galaxy" when actually it is a different variety.

It's not uncommon for stones that are the essentially the same variety to be called different names. Some stones have 4 or 5 different names depending on where you buy it.

Black galaxy is well-known and well-regarded as an excellent, near bullet-proof stone. So, say a quarry has a stone that looks similar, but does not have the same composition and/or the same performance as black galaxy... say it etches.

Well, there won't be much of a market for this stone. Whatever you name it, it will soon become known not to buy this stone. But if you call it "black galaxy" people buy it without question.

I know that is maddening, but again stone is a natural product. There is not absolute consistency in the product. So, choosing a stone by name alone is not the way to do it.

You should choose a color you like, but then test it to make sure it has the performance characteristics you desire.

And just FYI... methylene chloride won't affect the "shine".

Rings on Black Galaxy Granite - wet bar
by: Marcy

I tested the surface of Black Galaxy Granite with methylene chloride as you suggest. Rings are still present. No change to the color of granite. Still shines as before. I tried this 3 times leaving the stripper on for upto an hour. Now what?


Black Galaxy Fraud
by: Ryan


You may want to use the FORENSICS Granite Test Kit to accurately determine what is happening with your granite.

There is data available regarding the characteristics of stone, etc., but you'd likely have to prove they did this intentionally. Of course, demonstrating that the product you received was materially different than the product you expected to receive may be enough.

Use the Contact Us form and I'll see what I can do to help.


Black Galaxy Fraud
by: Marcy


Several month ago you were very helpful with explaining why my black galaxy granite was stained with etched water and ring marks. I have since gone back-and-forth with the dealer with no luck. They refuse to replace or repair the damaged stone. Now I need to file a small claims case against the dealer. There excuse is they do not "guarantee" natural stone color or pattern inconsistencies. They also claim the problem is that I did not seal the granite before use and/or left water/acidy liquid on the counter for a long period of time. In other words, I didn't wipe up spills in time.

I'm wondering if there is a publication or other resource that I can take with me (to court) regarding the density and high tolerance of black galaxy so I can show the judge. In other words, is there anything official that I can take with me to court explaining that authentic black galaxy granite does not stain like this "naturally" and that it is a dense stone that does not require sealing?

Any advise you can give would be very much appreciated.

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