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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!

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

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

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.

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.

Match calculated COE to dilatometer-measured body COE? No!

Match calculated COE to dilatometer-measured body COE? No!

Why? Firing temperature, schedule and atmosphere affect the result. Dilatometers are only useful when manufacturers monitor bodies AND glazes over time and in the same firing conditions. Calculated values for glazes are only relative (not absolute). The best way to fit glazes to your clay bodies is by testing, evaluation, adjustment and retesting. For example, if a glaze crazes, adjust its recipe to bring the expansion down (your account at Insight-live has the tools and guides to do this). Then fire a glazed piece and thermal stress it (300F into ice-water). If it still crazes, move it further. If you have a base glossy glaze that fits (and made of the same materials), try comparing its calculated expansion as a guide. Can you calculate body expansion from oxide chemistry? Definitely not, because bodies do not melt.

Out Bound Links

  • (Tests) COLE - Co-efficient of Linear Expansion
  • (Articles) Understanding Thermal Expansion in Ceramic Glazes

    Understanding thermal expansion is the key to dealing with crazing or shivering. There is a rich mans and poor mans way to fit glazes, the latter might be better.

  • (Articles) The Effect of Glaze Fit on Fired Ware Strength

    The fit between body and glaze is like a marriage, if is is strong the marriage can survive problems. Likewise ceramic ware with well fitting glaze is much stronger than you think it might be, and vice versa.

  • (Articles) Crazing and Bacteria: Is There a Hazard?

    A post to a discussion on the clayart group by Gavin Stairs regarding the food safety of crazed ware.

  • (Articles) Is Your Fired Ware Safe?

    Glazed ware can be a safety hazard to end users because it may leach metals into food and drink, it could harbor bacteria and it could flake of in knife-edged pieces.

  • (Articles) Bringing Out the Big Guns in Craze Control: MgO (G1215U)

    MgO is the secret weapon of craze control. If your application can tolerate it you can create a cone 6 base glaze of very low thermal expansion that is very resistant to crazing.

  • (Glossary) Co-efficient of Thermal Expansion

    A measure of the reversible volume or length change of a ceramic material with temperature. The more the expansion during heating the more contraction must occur while cooling it back down. Expansion values are very small and recorded in scientific notation (e.g. 6.5 x 10-7 which is 0.00000065). Typ...

  • (Glossary) Crazing

    Crazing refers to small hairline cracks in glazed surfaces that usually appear after firing but can appear years later. It is caused by a mismatch in the thermal expansions of glaze and body. Most ceramics expand slightly on heating and contract on cooling. Even though the amount of change is very s...

  • (Glossary) Shivering

    A defect in glazed ware where the glaze is compressed too much by the body, the glaze actually peels off the ware on edges to relieve the stress. Shivering is thus the opposite of crazing and is also less common. This problem is potentially dangerous, since the tiny flakes of glaze having razor-shar...

  • (Typecodes) 5: GLT - Glaze Tests
  • (Videos) Lesson 3 - Dealing With Crazing

    This video explains what crazing is, how it is related to glaze chemistry, how INSIGHT calculates thermal expansion and how to substitute some of the amounts of high expansion oxides that often cause ...

In Bound Links

  • (Tests) BWIW - Boiling Water:Ice Water Glaze Fit Test
  • (Articles) Formulating a Porcelain

    The principles behind formulating a porcelain are quite simple. You just need to know the purpose of each material, a starting recipe and a testing regimen.

  • (Glossary) Glaze fit

    The relationship between the thermal expansion of body and glaze is called the "glaze fit". Glazes fit the clay body they are on when they do not form the familiar crack pattern of crazing when the ware is suddenly cooled or flake off on contours when ware is suddenly heated. Thermal expansion happe...

  • (Glossary) Thermal shock

    Thermal shock refers to stresses imposed on a ceramic by the volume changes associated with sudden shifts in temperature. Pouring hot coffee into a cup is a classic example, it is a mild thermal shock common to every day use, almost any type of clay product can withstand this (unless internal stress...

  • (Glossary) Food Safe

    In recent years potters and small manufacturers have become aware (or have been forced to become aware) that ceramics and pottery are not as inert as they once thought. A variety of potential health impacts exist to users of ware they make. These include flaking off of glaze chips (that could be ing...

  • (Glossary) Liner Glaze

    It is common to glaze food surfaces of utilitarian ware with a brilliant glossy white or transparent glaze called a 'liner glaze'. This is done to avoid releasing in-glaze or on-glaze metallic colorants to food or drink (which could leach them away and be a health hazard). Liner glazes can be applie...

By Tony Hansen

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