Monthly Tech-Tip from Tony Hansen SignUp

No tracking! No ads!That's why this page loads quickly!

1-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | Frits | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Raw Umber

Oxide Analysis Formula
CaO 5.00% 0.64
MgO 2.00% 0.36
Fe2O3 51.00% 2.30
MnO 13.00% 1.32
Al2O3 3.00% 0.21
SiO2 13.00% 1.56
Oxide Weight 627.01
Formula Weight 720.70


Umber is a processed from manganese-enriched goethite, a naturally occurring inorganic iron oxide. It is a brown earth pigment that is darker than the Ochre because of its manganese and iron oxide content. It is highly valued as a permanent pigment either in the raw or burnt state. Umber is lightfast, insoluble in water, resistant to alkalis and weak acids and non-reactive with cement, solvents, oils, and most resins.

This is preferred in ceramics over ochre because of its much higher iron content.

Related Information

Raw Umber vs. Burnt Umber

These are the same material, however the one on the right has been burnt to 600F. At this surprisingly low temperature the color transforms into a deep redish brown.

Mug made from a cone 6 black-burning stoneware body

Black burning bodies are popular with many potters. They are normally manufactured by adding around 10% burnt or raw umber to an existing buff-burning cone 6 stoneware. Umbers are powerful colorants, they have high iron and also contain manganese (the latter being the primary source of the color). But these clays can be troublesome. First, good kiln venting is needed to avoid breathing the dangerous manganese metal vapors. Micro-bubble clouding/gloss-loss in the glazes and blistering/bloating of the bodies are common. But this mug fired perfectly. Why? The umber was added to a cone 10 stoneware instead (and it has fluxed the body to mature at cone 6). The mug has been white engobed on the inside and partway down the outside during leather hard stage. After bisque it was clear glazed on the inside giving a flawless surface (using G2926B) and dipped in GA6-A Alberta Slip base amber-clear. The GA6-A over the black clay produces a very deep, rich, almost black ultra-gloss surface.

Raw Umber original container

Sold by Arlimin but made by New Riverside Ochre Company.

The umber is bubbling the underglaze in these clay rocks

Clay rocks with butterfly pattern

The body is Plainsman Coffee clay, it is stained black with 10% raw umber. I painted Amaco Velvet white underglaze over the black clay (in the leather hard state), then over-painted the colors. When they were dry enough to handle, I cut the black lines using a Kemper WS sgraffito tool. The rock on the left is fired to cone 6, on the right to cone 4. Thus, at some point between cone 4 and 6, the umber in the body is generating gases of decomposition. Glazes can bubble it through but this underglaze cannot pass it. To continue working at cone 6 I made my own body by mixing Mason 6600 black stain into a porcelain.


Typecodes Colorant
Metallic based materials that impart fired color to glazes and bodies.
Materials Burnt Umber
About natural iron oxide pigments: Ochre and Umber
Ochre (pronounced o’-ker) is a natural, mineral, earth pigment. Chemically, it is a hydrated ferric oxide, chemical formulation: FeO(OH). Ochre is inorganic, chemically inert, non-reactive with cement, mortar or brick, and non-toxic.

By Tony Hansen

Tell Us How to Improve This Page

Or ask a question and we will alter this page to better answer it.

Email Address




CAPTCHA, All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy