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KNaO (Potassium/Sodium Oxides)

COLE - Co-efficient of Linear Expansion 0.359


KNaO is a pseudo-alkali oxide used in glaze formulas. It represents the combined total of K2O and Na2O.

This KNaO designation is made possible because K2O and Na2O have such similar contributions to the fired properties of glazes that for most purposes they can be considered as the same.

The KNaO designation is also a necessity but the reason is not obvious. On this website we have many tutorials and articles about how to formulate glazes using a chemistry approach, seeing glazes as formulas of oxides rather than just recipes of materials. Materials are viewed as oxide warehouses and the step-by-step procedures in creating or adjusting glazes or substituting materials involves juggling material amounts to achieve the desired change in the oxide formula. It is easy to supply any desired amount of SiO2 using silica, or CaO from calcium carbonate or Li2O from lithium carbonate because these materials only supply just one oxide. While things get more complex when materials have two oxides (e.g. dolomite supplies both CaO and MgO, wollastonite both CaO and SiO2) the procedure is still easy to manage when materials are marshaled in the correct order. However K2O and Na2O cannot be sourced in simple one or two oxide materials, they come in feldspars and frits which commonly supply six or eight or even ten oxides. Thus bringing one of these materials into a recipe to supply K2O and/or Na2O also brings the baggage of many other oxides. In most cases a chosen feldspar or frit can be used to source KNaO and not oversupply any of the others (their shortfalls can then be supplied by simpler materials). This becomes the best-case scenario (one accepts that the best that can be done is that the total of K2O and Na2O match the KNaO target).

Some glaze types do require high K2O or high Na2O and there are things that can be done to match the K2O:Na2O ratio better. For example, when choosing a feldspar to source KNaO one can keep in mind the desired KNaO ratio in the glaze. Frits are often incorporated to increase glaze quality (by reducing the percentages of troublesome materials e.g. ones with high LOI, inconsistent or contaminated with iron) or as a source of oxides not available (or available in sufficient quantity) in raw materials. Most companies and potters have access to a wide range of frits and they can be chosen and blended to get closer to the desired KNaO ratio. But again, this is almost always not necessary, it is better to consider K2O:Na2O and KNaO.

KNaO does not have a formula weight, it does not exist (although an average of the two weights is sometimes used). Thus, when a glaze formula is calculated from a batch recipe, the KNaO is simply presented at the K2O+Na2O.

Analyses of material chemistries never combine the K2O and Na2O.


Ceramic Oxide Periodic Table in SVG Format

The periodic table of common ceramic oxides in scalable vector format (SVG). Try scaling this thumbnail: It will be crystal-clear no matter how large you zoom it. All common pottery base glazes are made from only 11 elements (the grey boxes) plus oxygen. Materials decompose when glazes melt, sourcing these elements in oxide form; the kiln builds the glaze from these. The kiln does not care what material sources what oxide (unless the glaze is not melting completely). Each of these oxides contributes specific properties to the glass, so you can look at a formula and make a very good prediction of how it will fire. This is actually simpler than looking at glazes as recipes of hundreds of different materials.

Why are K2O and Na2O often combined as KNaO?

Insight-Live displays the chemistry of glazes like this. In oxide formulas it is typical to express the total of K2O plus Na2O as KNaO. The reason goes to the heart of why viewing glazes as formulas of oxides is so much better than seeing them as just recipes of materials.

A settling, running glaze recipe gets a makeover

The original cone 6 recipe, WCB, fires to a beautiful brilliant deep blue green (shown in column 2 of this Insight-live screen-shot). But it is crazing and settling badly in the bucket. The crazing is because of high KNaO (potassium and sodium from the high feldspar). The settling is because there is almost no clay. Adjustment 1 (column 3) eliminates the feldspar and sources Al2O3 from kaolin and KNaO from Frit 3110. The chemistry of the new chemistry is very close. To make that happen the amounts of other materials had to be juggled (you can click on any material to see what oxides it contributes). But the fired test reveals that this one, although very similar, is melting more (because the frit releases its oxide more readily than feldspar). Adjustment 2 (column 4) proposes a 10-part silica addition (to supply more SiO2). SiO2 is the glass former, the more a glaze will accept, the better. Silica is refractory so the glaze will run less. It will also fire more durable and be more resistant to leaching.

Out Bound Links

  • (Materials - Material source) Feldspar
  • (Glossary) Glaze Chemistry

    Glaze chemistry is learning what each oxide does i...

In Bound Links

  • (Glossary) Feldspar Glazes

    Quite simply, feldspar glazes are high in feldspar...

  • (Glossary) Formula

    Conceptually we consider fired ceramic glazes as b...

  • (Glossary) Oxide

    An oxide is a combination of oxygen and another el...

  • (Glossary) Flameware

    Flameware is ceramic that can withstand sudden tem...

By Tony Hansen

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