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Cornwall Stone

Alternate Names: Cornish Stone, China Stone, Corn Stn, China-stone

Oxide Analysis Formula
CaO 1.81% 0.24
K2O 4.30% 0.34
Na2O 3.30% 0.40
TiO2 0.15% 0.01
Al2O3 16.33% 1.19
SiO2 73.76% 9.12
Fe2O3 0.20% 0.01
MgO 0.14% 0.03
Oxide Weight 742.81
Formula Weight 742.81


Also known as: Pegmatite. Graven. Gowen. Manx stone. Meldon stone. Growan. Petuntse. Amakusa.

Cornwall stone is a low iron feldspar material used primarily as a flux in clay bodies and glazes. Is mined in the Cornwall area of the UK. It melts 1150-1300C. It has a more diversified selection of fluxes than other feldspars but also has one of the highest silica contents. By itself it does not melt as well as feldspars (melt flow begins around cone 11 oxidation). It is popular in engobes for its adhesive power during and after firing and in glazes for its low shrinkage and minimal contribution to defects.

Long time users often comment on the difference in color between different batches of materials they receive. The parent ore materials are much more complex than other feldspars, and tend to be a mix of varying types of igneous rock in different stages of decomposition. Earlier stages of the ore materials are bluer (from fluorine) and contain more fluxes than newer rocks where some of the alkalis and fluorine have been leached and washed away creating a softer material. Cornish stones tend to be classified into major types according to the amount of flux present. Although Cornish stone is quite variable in composition, its low iron makes it an attractive material. Understandably, documentation on this material has provided a wide range of chemistries over the years, so no one really knows what a truly representative analysis should look like (the one provided here is an average of many that we have collected).

Its diversity of oxides make it similar in composition to common stone, thus its name. It is common to see synthetic substitutes for this material since it is easy to blend other feldspars to approximate the analysis of Cornish stone. These substitutes have the advantage of having no fluorine (which is suspected in various glaze faults that do not appear when using the substitutes). Hammill & Gillespie makes one of these, H&G Cornwall Stone. It is described in an article in Ceramics Technical Nov 2011, the chemistry given there differs from the chemistry we show here. The logic for the chemistry we show can be found in an article on this site (link below).

Related Information

L3617 Cornwall Stone substitute vs. real Cornwall Stone

These flow tests demonstrate how similar the substitute recipe (left) is to the real material (right). 20% Frit 3134 has been added to each to enable better melting at cone 5 (they do not flow even at cone 11 without the frit). Links below provide the recipe for the substitute and outline the method of how it was derived using Digitalfire Insight software. This substitute is chemically equivalent to what we feel is the best average for the chemistry of Cornwall Stone.

Cornwall stone variation

Cornwall Stone as it changes over time. Left: Traditional blue material, could be 20 years old. Center: A shipment we got in Feb 2014. Right: A shipment in Oct 2014. Front: 10 gram balls prepared for a melt-flow GBFL test. The blue powder is the most difficult to form after water has been added, the tan one is the easiest.

Cornwall Stone off different dates compared to substitute L3617

This is a cone 11 oxidation melt flow test. Shown (left to right) are the new shipment of Cornwall Stone 2011, the L3617 calculated equivalent (a recipe, see link), the older Cornwall shipment we have been using and the H&G substitute 2011 (far right, mislabelled on the picture). These do not flow well here, a small frit addition is needed to better compare them. However they have melted enough to see some differences in whiteness and degree of melt. Notice the L3617 is more like the old Cornwall than the new Cornwall is.

Which is the better flux? Cornwall stone or nepheline syenite?

Left: Cornwall plus 10% Ferro Frit 3134. Right: Nepheline Syenite plus 10% of the same frit. These are fired at cone 6.

Melt fluidity: Cornwall Stone vs. Nepheline Syenite

Three Cornwall Stone shipments fired at cone 8 in melt flow testers (GLFL test) and compared to Nepheline Syenite. Each contains 10% Ferro Frit 3134.

An original container bag of genuine Cornwall Stone

Ten gram balls of pure Cornwall Stone fired to cone 10R

Although Cornwall Stone is used as a glaze flux, by itself it does not melt well at this temperature. However a blend of Cornwall:silica:clay does melt well. An old stock (two left balls) is being compared to a February 2014 and October 2014 shipment (right balls). The Oct 2014 shipment is slightly browner in color and not melting quite as much as the others. To better test this at cone 10, a little frit needs to be added, perhaps 5%.


Articles Substituting Cornwall Stone
How to create a blend of materials to chemically substitute for another (Cornwall Stone is used as an example).
Materials BPS Cornish Stone
Materials H&G Cornwall Stone
Materials Potash Feldspar
Materials Soda Feldspar
Materials DF Cornwall Stone
Materials Petunse
Glossary Oxide Interaction
In ceramic glazes each oxide generally makes a specific contributions to the melting and freezing behavior of the glaze. However interactions are also important.
Recipes L3617A - Synthetic Cornwall Subsitute
Hazards Fluorine Gas
Can you be exposed to fluorine gas in ceramics. Yes, if you are using materials that contain fluorine. These are not many, but worth knowing about.
Typecodes Generic Material
Generic materials are those with no brand name. Normally they are theoretical, the chemistry portrays what a specimen would be if it had no contamination. Generic materials are helpful in educational situations where students need to study material theory (later they graduate to dealing with real world materials). They are also helpful where the chemistry of an actual material is not known. Often the accuracy of calculations is sufficient using generic materials.
Typecodes Feldspar
The most common source of fluxes for high and medium temperature glazes and bodies.
Oxides K2O - Potassium Oxide

By Tony Hansen

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