|Monthly Tech-Tip |
These contaminating particles are exposed on the rim of a bisque-fired mug. The liqnite ones have burned away but the iron particle is still there (and will produce a speck in the glaze). Remnants of the lignite remain inside the matrix and can pinhole glazes. Since ball clays are air floated (a stream of air takes away the lighter particles and the heavier ones recycle for regrinding) it seems that contamination like this would be impossible. But the equipment requires vigilance for correct operation, especially when there is pressure to maximize production. Ores in Tennessee are higher in coal than those in Kentucky. North American clay body manufacturers who confront ball clay suppliers with this contamination find that ceramic applications have become a very small part of the total ball clay market - complaints are not taken with the same seriousness as in the past.
Potters and some manufacturers fire ceramic ware twice, once to prepare it for glazing (call bisquit firing) and the second time to melt the glaze onto it.
Ceramic materials, especially clays, often contain carbon and organic compounds. When they are fired in a kiln, these must burn out, often producing complications.
Pinholing is a common surface defect that occurs with ceramic glazes. The problem emerges from the kiln and can occur erratically in production.