What are reflectors coated with? Will highly polishing the alu reflector give the same result?

Hi, so as in the title is it a ‘special’ coating they use on reflectors, could I just polish aluminium to get the same effect?

I ask because my reflector is scratched and wanted to know if I could just polish the coating off and highly polish the aluminium underneath?

Sorry if this has been answered before, couldn’t find any info when I searched.

Reflectors are plated. Chrome plating I believe, or similar to chrome plating. Both plastic and aluminum are plated. A polished reflector will be less effective than a plated one. I do not know how much less effective, but it's substantial.

What reflector are we talking about?

Thanks for the quick reply Old-Lumens, oh well I suspected that might be the case

Skyray King

I had a couple reflectors I ruined so what I did was sand down to bare metal, (obviously the reflector has to be aluminum) smooth it out with finer grades of sandpaper and #0000 steel wool, and polished it with Flitz followed up with Mother’s Mag polish. They were good enough that I could see my mug in them and there was no discernible difference performance-wise from the chromed finish-but it took lots of elbow grease!


Hmmm, thanks for that info good to know, yes I can imagine it’s hard work!

Have a dirty great scratch on mine so might try it, maybe I should see if I can source a replacement reflector also for comparisson

Here’s a few pics of a custom shorty 1AA mini mag I done a while back. This is the finish you can achieve with the mothers mag wheel polish.

And the light it all went in.


I've done it, with a p60 reflector I cut down for a non-p60 light. The 'OP' coating was flaking so I scraped it clean & repolished. You can get it back to close to good, but not better. Don't mess with it unless it's already unusable.

Since the reflectors are plated they don't always use the best quality base metal, so the polishing can have less than stellar results.

I believe they are done in vapor deposition. What material? That I am unsure of, but I think that’s the case.

BLF group buy for a Kolzer 60??


How scratched is it? Remember an OP reflector, while shiny is there to deflect and smooth the beam out. I suspect some minor scratches won’t actually cause any worse affect.

I’ve sanded and polished a P60 reflector and comparing it to a plated SMO reflector there is no difference in light output.

Cool, thanks for the replies everyone.

I guess it’s not that bad but it’s one of those little things that will bug me! If I can find a replacement I might try polishing this one as an experiment- although as said above the base aluminium might be a lower quality.

There is apparently a quality of aluminium that when polished has approx 98% reflectance value, versus a chrome mirror type plating with only approx 70% reflectance, I wonder if there would be any visible output difference if a reflector was machined out of it?

I cant imagine these coated reflectors absorb light (?) So possibly there’s no point.

Pity I don’t work for Kolzer lol

Also note that some (better quaility) reflectors are also brass or copper plated, before being silver plated/PVD.

So even though you have an “aluminum” reflector in the better lights some are multilayered on the inside.

Photographers use an instrument called a densitometer to measure the reflectance of surfaces. White paint will reflect 98 percent of the light that falls on it. This of course defeats the purpose of a reflector. A mirror also reflects 98 percent of the light falling on it. What you want is a highly polished surface. Aluminum can be polished however it will combine with oxygen quickly. So you will want to put a clear coating over it. An alternative is electroless nickle. This will give a highly polished surface that does not need a clear coat. Gold is used for heat reflectors so if you want to make a burning flashlight this will work. Chromium can be used over nickle but this requires more equipment than the average person will want to invest in. For the ultimate reflector you will want rhodium and if you have to ask you can’t afford it. There is also this http://hunterproducts.com/ which is useful for electric contacts.