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Grolleg Kaolin

Fine White Burning English Kaolin, English China Clay

Alternate Names: Grolleg China Clay

OxideAnalysisFormula
CaO0.10%0.005
MgO0.30%0.021
K2O1.90%0.056
Na2O0.10%0.004
TiO20.03%0.001
Al2O337.00%1.000
SiO248.00%2.202
Fe2O30.70%0.012
LOI12.01
Oxide Weight242.95
Formula Weight276.11
If this formula is not unified correctly please contact us.
GSPT - Frit Softening Point 3000F
WABS - Water absorption 1180C 14% 1280C 6% 1410C 0.5%
FSHR - Firing Shrinkage 1180C 0% 1280C 14% 1410C 18%
UPSD - Ultimate Particle Size Distribution >53 microns .05 max >10 microns 10 <2 microns 57

A blended English china clay, combining moderate plasticity, low titania content and relatively high flux content, low shrinkage and blue-white fired color. The low TiO2 content is a key factor for the usefulness of Grolleg. It is excellent for making translucent throwing or casting porcelains. The pottery community uses many Grolleg based porcelains.

Its chemistry is different from a typical North American kaolin, it contains some fluxing oxides (e.g. it has almost 2% K2O). Thus porcelain bodies employing it require quite a bit less feldspar to vitrify.

For use in plastic porcelains there is dilemma that body formulators face: This material has a lower plasticity than American materials like EPK and much lower than #6 Tile and Sapphire kaolins. Thus porcelain bodies employing it require additions of a plasticizer like bentonite (up to 5% to get high plasticity). Since raw bentonites having the necessary plasticity are also exceptionally high in iron, people must balance the advantages of using a white burning and more costly material like Grolleg against the lower plasticity that makes the addition of dirty plasticizers necessary. Theoretically making translucent bodies employing 5% bentonite having 5% iron content should only increase iron in the body by 0.25%. This does not sound like much, but it is. Bodies having 0.1% iron burn much whiter than those having 0.2%. Thus either lower plasticity should be tolerated or white plasticizers (like VeeGum or Bentone) should be used.

Glazes: While the chemistry difference between this and more typical kaolins is certainly worth noting for bodies, it is still likely close enough to the theoretical 1:2 alumina:silica to be substituted in recipes that call for kaolin or china clay. Grolleg may also be preferred because the titania in other kaolins is detrimental to the development of a color (titanium can turn celedons to a greenish tint). Transparent glazes employing Grolleg as-the-kaolin used over Grolleg-based porcelains can produce very white and even blue-white color in reduction firing. Another factor making this material an excellent glaze suspender is its inherent stickiness, which is exhibited to a degree much in excess of its actual plasticity. This property also makes for great hardening and durability of the dried glaze layer.

As far as commonly available materials in North America, Grolleg competes against New Zealand Halloysite where the whitest possible result is desired.

Modulus of Rupture, Kgf/cm2
At 80% Relative Humidity: 10.0
Dried at 110C: 25.7

Casting Rate @ 63% solids (mm2/min): 0.8
% P84 Deflocculant Required for 5 Poise Slip: 0.65

1180C 1280C 1410C
Brightness: 86 86 75


Mechanisms

Does Grolleg whiten a glaze the same as it does a body?

Does Grolleg whiten a glaze the same as it does a body?

Yes. The two specimens are both the same Grolleg-based porcelains. Both of them are glazed with the same glaze: 1947U transparent. But the glaze on the left is using EP Kaolin and the one on the right Grolleg kaolin. The Grolleg glaze is dramatically better, the color has a bluish cast that is more attractive. The Grolleg does not suspend the slurry as well, however it responds well to gelling (using vinegar, for example) more than compensating to create an easy-to-use suspension.

This is an expensive, quality bentonite! It is used in porcelains!

This is an expensive, quality bentonite! It is used in porcelains!

HPM-20 micro-fine bentonite fired from cone 1 to 7 in oxidation. This bentonite is expensive compared to others and it used for the guarantee that there are no speck producing particles. However it is still high in soluble salts (that melt by cone 4) and is very dark burning in color. It is not unusual to put 3-5% of this (and other dirtier bentonites) into Grolleg porcelain bodies (where whiteness is supposedly important).

A Grolleg based porcelain (right) vs. #6 Tile Kaolin based porcelain

A Grolleg based porcelain (right) vs. #6 Tile Kaolin based porcelain

Both of them employ raw bentonite to augment the plasticity and both have about 50% kaolin in the recipe. The Grolleg body requires more bentonite (because it is much less plastic than #6 tile). In spite of the fact that the raw bentonite has a high iron content and it darkens the color, the Grolleg porcelain is still much whiter.

Reduction and oxidation porcelains

Reduction and oxidation porcelains

Left: Cone 10R (reduction) Plainsman P700 porcelain (made using Grolleg and G200 Feldspar). Right: Plainsman Cone 6 Plainsman Polar Ice porcelain (made using New Zealand kaolin and Nepheline Syenite). Both are zero porosity. The Polar Ice is very translucent, the P700 much less. The blue coloration of the P700 is mostly a product of the suspended micro-bubbles in the feldspar clear glaze (G1947U). The cone 6 glaze is fritted and much more transparent, but it could be stained to match the blue. These are high quality combinations of glaze and body.

Do not rely on material data sheets, do the testing

Do not rely on material data sheets, do the testing

The cone 6 porcelain on the left uses Grolleg kaolin, the right uses Tile #6 kaolin. The Grolleg body needs 5-10% less feldspar to vitrify it to zero porosity. It thus contains more kaolin, yet it fires significantly whiter. Theoretically this seems simple. Tile #6 contains alot more iron than Grolleg. Wrong! According to the data sheets, Grolleg has the more iron of the two. Why does it always fire whiter? I actually do not know. But the point is, do not rely totally on numbers on data sheets, do the testing yourself.

Why is that high fire porcelain on the left so much more translucent?

Why is that high fire porcelain on the left so much more translucent?

These two cone 10 porcelains have the same recipe. 50% Grolleg Kaolin and 25% each of silica and feldspar. But the one on the left is plasticized using 3.5% VeeGum T and the one on the right uses 5% regular raw bentonite. The VeeGum is obviously doing more than making it more workable, it is fluxing the body to make it much more translucent. Although not clear from this picture, the entire mug on the left is covered with blisters, it has over vitrified (while the one on the right is stable).

Ball clay vs. Kaolin porcelain at cone 6

Ball clay vs. Kaolin porcelain at cone 6

Left: A porcelain that is plasticized using only ball clays (Spinx Gleason and Old Hickory #5). Right: Only kaolin (in this case Grolleg). Kaolins are much less plastic so bentonite (e.g. 2-5%) is typically needed to get good plasticity. The color can be alot whiter using a clean kaolin, but there are down sides. Kaolins have double the LOI of ball clays, so there are more gasses that potentially need to bubble up through the glaze (ball clay porcelains can produce brilliantly glassy and clean results in transparent glazes even at fast fire, while pure kaolins can produce tiny dimples in the glaze surface if firings are not soaked long enough). Kaolins plasticized by bentonite often do not dry as well as ball clays even though the drying shrinkage is usually less. Strangely, even though ball clays are so much harder and stronger in the dry state, a porcelain made using only ball clays often still needs some bentonite. If you do not need the very whitest result, it seems that a hibrid using both is still the best general purpose, low cost answer.

EPK fired bar (top) vs Grolleg at cone 10R. Why shrinking more?

EPK fired bar (top) vs Grolleg at cone 10R. Why shrinking more?

EPK has a much higher fired shrinkage. This is counter intuitive because Grolleg is known to produce more vitrified porcelains. It also appears whiter yet in a porcelain body the Grolleg will produce a much whiter fired product. This means that to compare porcelains we need to see them "playing on the team", in a recipe working with other materials, to see their the properties they really contribute.

This is how much iron is in a box of the cleanest porcelain you can make!

This is how much iron is in a box of the cleanest porcelain you can make!

The recipe: 50% New Zealand kaolin, 21% G200 Feldspar, 25% silica and 3% VeeGum (for cone 10R). These are the cleanest materials available. Yet it contains 0.15% iron (mainly from the 0.25% in the New Zealand kaolin, the VeeGum chemistry is not known, I am assuming it contributes zero iron). A 50 lb a box of pugged would contain about 18,000 grams of dry clay (assuming 20% water). 0.15% of 18,000 is the 27 grams of iron you see here! This mug is a typical Grolleg-based porcelain using a standard raw bentonite. A box of it contains four times as much iron. Enough to fill that cup half full!

Out Bound Links

In Bound Links


By Tony Hansen

XML for Import into INSIGHT

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <material name="Grolleg Kaolin" descrip="Fine White Burning English Kaolin, English China Clay" searchkey="Grolleg China Clay" loi="0.00" casnumber="95077-05-7"> <oxides> <oxide symbol="CaO" name="Calcium Oxide, Calcia" status="" percent="0.100" tolerance=""/> <oxide symbol="MgO" name="Magnesium Oxide, Magnesia" status="" percent="0.300" tolerance=""/> <oxide symbol="K2O" name="Potassium Oxide" status="" percent="1.900" tolerance=""/> <oxide symbol="Na2O" name="Sodium Oxide, Soda" status="" percent="0.100" tolerance=""/> <oxide symbol="TiO2" name="Titanium Dioxide, Titania" status="" percent="0.030" tolerance=""/> <oxide symbol="Al2O3" name="Aluminum Oxide, Alumina" status="" percent="37.000" tolerance=""/> <oxide symbol="SiO2" name="Silicon Dioxide, Silica" status="" percent="48.000" tolerance=""/> <oxide symbol="Fe2O3" name="Iron Oxide, Ferric Oxide" status="" percent="0.700" tolerance=""/> </oxides> <volatiles> <volatile symbol="LOI" name="Loss on Ignition" percent="12.010" tolerance=""/> </volatiles> </material>


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