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Iron Oxide Black

Ferrous ferric oxide, Synthetic Magnetite

Formula: Fe3O4
Alternate Names: Fe3O4, Black Iron Oxide, BIO, Magnetite Powder, Iron(II,III) Oxide

Oxide Weight231.92
Formula Weight252.09
If this formula is not unified correctly please contact us.
DENS - Density (Specific Gravity) 5.20
GSPT - Frit Softening Point 1420C M
pHPW - pH for dry powder 4-8

The black iron used in ceramics is generally this synthetic form (the natural equivalent mineral magnetite contains 5-15% impurities). Synthetic black iron is much more expensive than the natural finely ground material (-200 mesh) but if there are good reasons for its use and percentages in the product recipe are low enough the cost may be justified. In ceramics, black iron is used as a source of Fe (in preference to red iron) where its black raw color and its better distribution properties are needed. For example, Alberta Slip is a recipe of raw clays and minerals intended to duplicate Albany Slip. The recipe calls for a small amount of iron oxide because the clay blend does not fire to quite as dark of a color. Since the original Albany Slip powder was a dark grey, black iron (rather than red) is employed in the Alberta Slip recipe to match this color better and provide the needed iron to the fired product.

The chemistry shown here is not the actual, synthetic black iron is almost pure Fe3O4. This chemistry is intended to work with INSIGHT where it is normal to define only FeO and Fe2O3.

Synthetic black iron is fluffier and lighter than synthetic red iron oxide (a bag of black iron is much larger than a bag of red). It is a very fine powder, 100% will easily wash through a 325 mesh screen. Synthetic black iron does not agglomerate as badly as red iron, thus it disperses in glaze slurries better (thus avoiding fired speckle). You can determine which form you have by washing a sample through a 325 mesh screen, if there is residue it is natural magnetite.

The exceedingly fine particle size of iron oxides makes them very messy to work with, they stain the skin in a manner than only soap can remove even though they do not dissolve in water.

High purity, low heavy metal content grades of black iron are available. All forms should have 90% or more Fe3O4. Black iron is also used as a colorant for a wide range of non-ceramic products.

Most synthetic magnetites are made by some type of chemical precipitation (0.2-1 micron particle size). However a high temperature dry process can be used to convert synthetic hematite into synthetic magnetite (thus the greater cost). The resultant product of this process has a slightly larger particle size (2-10 micron). 100% pure material would contain 72.3% Fe.

Iron oxide is available in many colors. Here are three.

How can there be so many colors? Because iron and oxygen can combine in many ways. In ceramics we know Fe2O3 as red iron and Fe3O4 as black iron (the latter being the more concentrated form). But would you believe there are 6 others (one is Fe13O19!). And four phases of Fe2O3. Plus more iron hydroxides (yellow iron is Fe(OH)3).

How do black, red and yellow iron additions compare in a glaze?

Example of 5% black iron oxide (left), red iron oxide (center) and yellow iron oxide (right) added to G1214W glaze, sieved to 100 mesh and fired to cone 8. The black is slightly darker, the yellow has no color? Do you know why?

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By Tony Hansen

XML for Import into INSIGHT

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <material name="Iron Oxide Black" descrip="Ferrous ferric oxide, Synthetic Magnetite" searchkey="Fe3O4, Black Iron Oxide, BIO, Magnetite Powder, Iron(II,III) Oxide" loi="0.00" casnumber="1345-25-1"> <oxides> <oxide symbol="Fe2O3" name="Iron Oxide, Ferric Oxide" status="" percent="63.400" tolerance=""/> <oxide symbol="FeO" name="Ferrous Oxide" status="" percent="28.500" tolerance=""/> </oxides> <volatiles> <volatile symbol="LOI" name="Loss on Ignition" percent="8.000" tolerance=""/> </volatiles> </material>

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