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Soluble Salts

In ceramics, certain compound in clays and glazes can dissolve into the water, then on drying these are left on the surface. For more information, see the topic Efflorescence.

Various cone 10R clays with soluble salts on the surface

These disks concentrate the solubles on the outer edge (because of the way they are dried). Soluble salts can enhance the visual appeal of a fired clay but they can also do the opposite.

Particle size drastically affects drying performance

These are DFAC drying performance tests of Plainsman A2 ball clay at 10 mesh (left) and ball milled (right). This test dries a flat disk that has the center section covered to delay its progress in comparison to the outer section (thus setting up stresses). Finer particle sizes greatly increase shrinkage and this increases the number of cracks and the cracking pattern of this specimen. Notice it has also increased the amount of soluble salts that have concentrated between the two zones, more is dissolving because of the increased particle surface area.

How bad can efflorescence of soluble salts be?

Like this! This terra cotta clay vitrifies here at 1957F (cone 03). This problem is common in many terra cotta materials but can also surface in others. Barium carbonate can be used to precipitate the salts inside the clay matrix so they do not come to the surface on drying.

Plucking in a cone 10R stoneware body having soluble salts

The solubles salts form the brown coloration on the clay surface. While the actual salt layer is very thin, it is enough to glue parts of the base to the kiln shelf (if the latter does not have adequate kiln wash or sand). This is even more important when the glaze line is close to the foot.

Out Bound Links

  • (Glossary) Efflorescence

    A term describing the whitish or brownish scum (de...

In Bound Links

  • (Glossary) Plucking

    Plucking refers to the chipping away of small frag...

By Tony Hansen

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