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300F:Ice Water Crazing Test - IWCT

This test procedure was employed in the Foresight Ceramic Database and now is available for those having an account at Insight-Live.com. Accumulating test data using the variables defined in these procedures enables us to create tools that enable you to compare the physical properties of materials and recipes.


Most people do not have a dilatometer so they must test the susceptibility of their glazes to crazing by simple observation. Such methods may actually have more value since it can be difficult to link numeric dilatometric results to what will actually happen in practice.

This procedure is an alternative to the Boiling Water:Ice Water fit test for crazing (but not shivering). That one simply yields a yes or no result, it does not indicate whether one glaze fits a body better or worse than another. This one stresses the ware progressively until failure occurs and produces an absolute numeric value.

Review of some details:

-Make all specimens for each glaze to be tested.
-Do not subject the same specimen to successive shock cycles, use a different one each time.
-The 3/8 thickness is important to achieving a differential expansion situation between body and glaze. Thinner tiles will cool too rapidly.
-Verify the temperature of your oven with an accurate measuring device and make adjustments as needed to achieve the target temperatures.
-Heat the specimens vertically standing in the kiln. Make setters if needed. Hold the temperature for half an hour.
-Make sure the ice water vessel is large enough and has adequate ice. Agitate it vigorously, all specimens must be subjected to the coldest possible water on all sides.

Consider doing the entire test at a cone above and below your production firing temperature.

Since water expansion can be an important factor in crazing, consider doing a multi-hour autoclave test also. The heat and pressure (5-6 bars) will fill body porosity with water. See the book "Glasuren und ihre Farben".


100 Apparatus
-An oven or kiln capable of heating ware accurately to 250, 275, 300, 325, 350, 375F.
-Ice and ice water container (large enough to quickly and completely immerse the items being tested and with enough thermal mass to maintain the water at near freezing temperatures for all items being tested)
-Tongs or pliers.

200 Procedure
-Roll eight 1/4 inch thick specimens 2x3 inches in size (for each glaze to be tested). Dry them as flat as possible. Bisque fire them (to your standard production bisquing temperature).
-Make a 1000 gram mix of the glaze recipe, mix with water and gel to the standard production viscosity.
-Dip the first specimen of each recipe (leaving 3/4 inch at one end unglazed). Using a glaze thickness measuring device (or a pin tool and observation), compare the thicknesses. Rationalize changes in the dip time according to how they compare and how thick they are compared to production thickness. Dip specimen 2 (according to dip time adjustments) and compare the thicknesses again. Fine-tune dipping times again if needed, and glaze the other six.
-Fire the six specimens to the target production temperature (verify using cones).

-Heat the first specimen of each to 375F. Be sure the oven is held long enough so that the heat thoroughly penetrates all samples.
-Prepare the ice water in a container big enough to hold all the specimens and with enough water and ice to have the needed thermal mass.
-Remove them from the oven (using dipping tongs) and quickly force them down into the cold water. Keep stirring the water vigorously as each new hot specimen is immersed.
-Continue to stir the water and add ice if needed to keep it cold. Allow it to stand for five minutes.
-Remove the specimens from the water and examine them closely.
-If needed, use a dye, ink or a black marker (followed by cleaning with an appropriate solvent) to highlight crack lines.
-Record the the temperature and result in lines/inch for each specimen.
-Set the oven for the next temperature and repeat.


Temp - Temperature (V)

The temperature at which crazing appears. The higher the temperature the more craze resistant the glaze is.

Dist - Craze lines per inch (V)

Approximate. The higher the number the worse the problem.

No crazing out of the kiln. So it is good. Right? Wrong!

The side of this white porcelain test mug is glazed with varying thicknesses of VC71 (a popular silky matte), then fired to cone 6. Out of the kiln there was no crazing, and it felt silky and wonderful. But a 300F/icewater test was done and then it was felt-pen marked and cleaned with acetone. This is what happened! This level of crazing is bad, the dense pattern indicates a very poor fit. Then why was it not crazed coming out of the kiln? The glaze is apparently elastic enough to handle the gradual cooling in the kiln. But what the kiln did not do, time certainly will. This recipe has 40% feldspar (a big high-expansion KNaO contributor), that much in a cone 6 glaze it a red flag to crazing. Coupled with that was low Al2O3 and SiO2, another tip-off.

A Redart cone 03 body shines when it come to ease of glaze fit

These bowls are fired at cone 03. They are made from 80 Redart, 20 Ball clay. The glazes are (left to right) G1916J (Frit 3195 85, EPK 15), G191Q (Frit 3195 65, Frit 3110 20, EPK 15) and G1916T (Frit 3195 65, Frit 3249 20, EPK 15). The latter is the most transparent and brilliant, even though that frit has high MgO. The center one has a higher expansion (because of the Frit 3110) and the right one a lower expansion (because of the Frit 3249). Yet all of them survived a 300F to icewater test without crazing. This is a testament to the utility of Redart at low temperatures. A white body done at the same time crazed the left two.

Turning delayed crazing into immediate crazing

This is a cone 04 clay (Plainsman Buffstone) with a transparent glaze (G1916Q which is 65% Frit 3195, 20% Frit 3110, 15% EPK). On coming out of the kiln, the glaze looked fine, crystal clear, no crazing. However when heated to 300F and then immersed into ice water this happens! At lower temperatures, where bodies are porous, water immediately penetrates the cracks and begins to waterlog the body below. Fixing the problem was easy: Substitute the low expansion Frit 3249 for the Frit 3110.

Do your functional glazes do this? Fix them. Now.

These cone 6 porcelain mugs have glossy liner glazes and matte outers: VC71 (left) crazes, G2934 does not (it is highlighted using a felt marker and solvent). Crazing, while appropriate on non-functional ware, is unsanitary and severely weakens the ware (up to 300%). If your ware develops this your customers will bring it back for replacement. What will you do? The thermal expansion of VC71 is alot higher. It is a product of the chemistry (in this case, high sodium and low alumina). No change in firing will fix this, the body and glaze are not expansion compatible. Period. The fix: Change bodies and start all over. Use another glaze. Or, adjust this recipe to reduce its thermal expansion.

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By Tony Hansen

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