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Kiln wash recipe: All the alternatives you can use these days

Kiln Wash Recipe

Many potters don’t know that a kiln wash recipe can make a massive difference and is something mandatory to use if you want high-quality results. In general, this is a mixture that is applied to the kiln inside and the shelves to prevent flaking or other, similar issues. Flakes can ruin your pottery, so keep in mind that they are a severe option.

The first thing you need to know is that making a kiln wash is possible and it is something you can do all by yourself, with the help of this guide. Below, we will reveal some of the best recipes that are very effective and come with an impressive success rate.
There are countless recipes out there. Each one comes with pros and cons. We will list the ones that are simply the easiest to make, but at the same time come with the best results and can be used for a long period of time.

Depending on the recipe you will use, you need different ingredients. Some of the ingredients can be used for multiple recipes. Anyway, in the tutorial we will explain recipe that requires:

  • Kaolin
  • Alumina Hydrate
  • NC4 Feldspar
  • Silica
  • Alumina Hydrate

Kiln wash recipe #1

This is the first and for most of us the simplest option out there. It is very easy to make and it provides good results. One advantage is the white color that is very bright and clear. Some say it can be used as an underglaze, but it isn’t the main purpose of this recipe. Anyway, to make it, follow these steps.

Mix kaolin and Alumina Hydrate

You need to mix Alumina Hydrate and kaolin in a clean bucket or something similar. Keep in mind that you need 1500 grams of each ingredient. In general, you need to take 3000 grams of the kiln wash using this recipe. Use water accordingly.

Add NC4 Feldspar

Now you will have to add 1% of NC4 Feldspar[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feldspar which should be something around 30 grams if you are making 3000 grams kiln wash. Make sure that you need to adjust the percentage depending on the previous step. It is easy to calculate the proper value and not something we will waste your time with.

All of these should be mixed in a buttermilk consistency which is easy to get. If it cakes and settles at the bottom of the bucket, you will need to add a little bit of Epsom salt and mix it again. Once you are satisfied with the consistency, you can use it immediately.

Also interesting: How to build a pottery kiln.

Kiln wash recipe #2

This is the second and probably the simplest or most basic recipes of them all. It is ideal for potters due to the fact it can withstand temperatures they need without a single issue. For example, silicon dioxide will melt at 3100 degrees Fahrenheit. Aluminum oxide will melt at 1722 degrees Fahrenheit. But, most if not all potters use between 1100 and 2400 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. As such, the wash will not melt and it will remain present as long as you need it.

Mix EPK Kaolin and Silica

There is just one step in this guide so you can imagine the simplicity. All you need to do is to mix Silica and EPK Kaolin. Use the 50:50 ratio and you can make any amount you like. The kiln wash is ideal for small and mid-size kilns so you can use it for almost most purposes and needs. Once you get the mixture, you need to apply it to the shelves. This is something we will discuss in a separate section.

We must add that there are a few downsides to this recipe. Silicon can form glass and you can notice small pieces of it on the shelves. When you scrape it, this will create silica dust and it is known to cause cancer. Wear protective gear at all times when using the kiln wash.

We must add that if you use it in soda or salt firings, glass glaze will be formed on the shelves which is another downside.

Also interesting: Best ceramic kiln for home use.

Kiln wash recipe #3

Alumina Hydrate

Here is the next kiln wash[2]https://theartofeducation.edu/2016/10/05/help-im-afraid-kiln/ that is also very popular and offers great results. You will need Alumina Hydrate and EPK Kaolin. The latter will melt at 3218 degrees F while the aluminum oxide will melt at 3722 degrees Fahrenheit. The main advantage of this particular recipe is the fact you can use it for all kilns and for all-purpose. It will withstand all the temperatures you can throw at it. To make it, follow the steps we have created below.

Mix Alumina Hydrate and EPK Kaolin

There is no other way to say that. Mix the two ingredients first. These can be mixed in a 50:50 ration which is common for kiln wash recipes. The mixture should be easy to apply and will last for a long period of time. It should be made like bread dough so you can get a better idea about what and how long to mix it.

Use 60:40 ratio

If you want, you can use the 60:40 ratio. This simply means that you will use 40% of alumina hydrate and around 60% kaolin in your mixture. It should keep the cost lower but the results won’t be much worse. Of course, the first version is more than just recommended, while the second is just an alternative.

Also interesting: What is a kiln.

How to use kiln wash?

As you were able to see, we have explained how to make kiln wash and how to mix kiln wash which are basically very simple and appealing steps. Now we will need to teach you how to apply the kiln wash. Keep in consideration that this is extremely important and it can make a massive difference. If you do not apply kiln wash properly, you can get poor results.

One of the best things you need to know is that this small guide applies to all kiln wash recipes so you can use each one in the same way. This is a great advantage and something all potters just love.

Before we move to the first step, we must add that you need to wear protective gear at all times. Wearing gloves, respirator and protective glasses are mandatory and can keep you safe at all times.

Grind the surface

The first thing you will have to do is to grind the surface you want to coat with kiln wash. You will have to apply this step to the shelves but also all other elements. Take your time and make sure you get a smooth surface that doesn’t contain any contaminants or anything similar. You can use multiple tools for this. Just make sure you do not damage the surface or you will need to repair it, obviously.

Once you are done with this step, you can move to the next. Once again, wear protective gear as long as needed and take your time. Make sure you don’t damage the heating element inside the kiln. If you do, you will need to replace it which can be expensive and time-consuming. Yes, this refers to all of you who use an electric kiln.

Use a damp sponge to clean the surface

This step is very simple and there is no need to explain it in detail. Basically, you need a damp sponge or a piece of towel and you have to wipe down all the shelves and all the surfaces you have tackled in the first step. Take your time, once again, and make sure the surfaces are perfectly smooth and there are no traces of dust or any other issues on them.

If you do a poor job here you will see it later on, after the third step. In other words, all the dust and debris will remain visible and can ruin the surface. These can melt as well which will make things even worse.

Apply the kiln wash

The last step is the most rewarding and the best for all of us. In a nutshell, you need a brush and apply one coat of kiln wash to all the surfaces you want to coat. One coat won’t get you the result you want. As such, you will have to apply more coatings. In general, apply 2-5 and always leave the kiln for a few hours so a coat can dry perfectly.

The final word


open kiln

Once you have made your kiln wash you need to prepare the surface and apply it. All of these have been mentioned above. Tell us in the comments what you think about the guide and what you would like to add, remove or change. Also, comment about your experience using one of these recipes and are you happy with it, or you would prefer something else.