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Pottery and Ceramics Glaze Settling

When you have a bucket of glaze that you forgot about, and when you go to use it and it has all sank to the bottom and is like cement, what the heck can you do?



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This is a quite a problem for glazes prior to firing and may also result in firing problems.
When a glaze settles out, the heavier ingredients of the glaze settle to the bottom of the bucket.
If you try to use this glaze without thoroughly remixing, you will be putting on a glaze with the main ingredients missing.
A glaze stays in suspension due to the presence of various types of clays, such as bentonite and or gums, such as CMC.
One common cause of settling out is when too much water is added to the glaze, which dilutes the effect of the suspending agents and allows some of the glaze ingredients to settle out.
Another reason is the growth of bacteria, which will consume an organic gum, which will lead to loss of suspension.
To stop bacteria growth, do not return used glaze, which has been poured out of the original container.
Also do not introduce possibly contaminated objects, such as brushes, into the original container.
Storing glaze in a hot or sunny environment may also help bacteria to grow.
Freezing can also destroy the action of CMC.
Glaze ingredients such as frits, nepheline syenite, soda feldspar and other slightly soluble materials slowly release sodium ions, which can deactivate the suspension agent making it ineffective.

If a glaze has settled out, but has not gone rock hard in the bottom of the container, you can add CMC or bentonite, if you have it.
If you are dealing with commercial glazes you probably don't have these lying around.
You can use Epsom salts to suspend your glaze.
Epsom salts can be purchased in most drug stores.
First you need to create a saturated solution of Epsom salts by dissolving them in a cup of warm water until no more will dissolve.
Then add this solution slowly and carefully to the glaze while continuously stirring the glaze.
It will require less than one teaspoon of Epsom salt solution per gallon of glaze.
The quantity will depend on how bad the problem is.
If a glaze has gotten too hard at the bottom to mix back up, first try a hand held kitchen stick blender.
If that doesn't work, drain all the liquid off.
Break the solid chunk into some small pieces, which will give it more surface to absorb the Epsom salt and water mixture.
Once you have gotten it softened, then add the rest of the glaze liquid back in.

This really pertains to anyone that mixes their own glazes or keeps large quantities around.
Dipping your pieces is what requires like a large bucket or tank.

There are so many neat ready made glazes that only those serious potters need try to make your own.

 

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