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Homemade castable refractory and ITC 100


woody15

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Sorry if this is already posted somewhere. I've searched and can't seem to find what I'm lookin for...

Question/situation is that I live close to a ceramics/pottery supply place which carries all different raw materials i.e. Alumina Hydrate, Kaolin, kiln wash, zircopax, sodium silicate, fire clay etc.  literally 75-100 different raw materials.  Building another forge and instead of paying small fortune shipping a bag of refractory (ideally castable) or buying ITC 100, is there a way to make a homemade batch of this stuff?  I understand ITC 100 is gonna be tough to beat but even if I could make something that would be half as good that would offset the price to buy and ship online.  

Forge I'm building is just a small portable propane forge, lined with 2" of Kaowool.  

Also , talked to someone at this pottery place few times and they didn't even know what ITC 100 was ... Haha

Thanks!

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If it's a decent pottery supply, they should have kast-o-lite 30 or Mizzou. It's cheap enough, I wouldn't bother trying to make something that might work half as well. That's where I sourced mine - the local pottery supply. They didn't have ITC-100 though. Said they stopped carrying it when it got too expensive.

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Yea it's actually pretty nice shop but didn't carry any kind of refractory.  Frustrating bc for what I pay online to have it shipped I could get insane amount more if I could just pick it up.  Even refractory places nearby don't carry anything I need.  They said I'd have to buy 55# bag minimum and also pay for freight which was gonna be more than the refractory lol.  O well I guess

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Woody: This is a good topic and there are lots of options but none will do any good without knowing where the heck you live. If you'll put your general location in the header there are probably a bunch of the gang close by. Like I say there are a lot of possibilities but me suggesting them is pretty worthless if unless I get lucky about where you live. Lots of this stuff is regional.

John: You live what a 2 hr drive from Seattle Pottery supply? There's also an E. J. Bartell in Seattle. Drats, Bartell just got bought out and the name's changed, "Delivery International?"

ITC-100 is a high zirconia kiln wash made for large scale industrial purposes. Next time you're at the pottery supply ask for a "High Zirconia" kiln wash. Zirconia kiln washes are common to protect kilns from glazes and such.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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I didn't even think to compare the two Frosty. I have a kiln and do some pottery work, so I have a big bag of kiln wash. I'll have to check it's composition.

There's a pottery supply in Tacoma that's closer - they have the kast-o-lite, but not the ITC-100 any more. But I just got my mail order of ITC-100 from Seattle Pottery along with some fire brick (another project) and the price wasn't bad for what I've been seeing lately.

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Sorry Frosty just updated.  I'm in central Ohio area.  Found a place in Columbus called Columbus Clay.  You can check there site out online and they have a whole list of raw materials.  There's gotta be something there I can use lol.  

Thanks!

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Nothing to apologize for Woody it's just a plus to have your location on every post. Lots of info and get together invites are regional and you just never know who lives close by. As remote as I am there are a few guys within 10 miles of me who wouldn't have known otherwise.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I use a fumed silica solution (water and fumed silica) for rigidizer.  I'll combine this rigidizer with zircopax and kaolin (range of 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of zircopax to kaolin) to make a very economical reflective coating.  It will eventually wear out over use, but it's reasonably tough and does a nice job making the forge reflect heat.  I also paint this on the hard fire brick that I use to block the front opening of the forge - I paid for that heat, and I don't want it to escape without doing some work.  ITC 100 is nifty stuff, but I like the price of my home brew coating better.

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Thanks that helps a lot.  Believe me the tried and true commercial products are gonna be the best I'm sure.   Just drives me crazy thinking there's a place closeby that I can buy a lot of the raw materials and make my own brew haha.  Especially when it's dirt cheap.  This will be a forge mainly designed for forging knives so I'd even considered going back to the soft firebricks rated to 3000F. They stock those for a good price too. Figured I could paint the inside of the forge with some sort of IR reflector to help with fuel usage.  Also have some 8# kaowool leftover I'll wrap around the outside and paint the fibers down with something too.  Might try that fumed silica brew.  

Thanks!

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What about Wayne Coe artisian blacksmith? He has small quantities of the stuff you need. Or so I have heard. Surprised he did not chime in yet. His site also has some solid plans on building a forge. Still kind of depends in your budget. Or do you just wish to figure out what's what by experimenting? (Which I would understand) 

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7 hours ago, jcornell said:

I use a fumed silica solution (water and fumed silica) for rigidizer.  I'll combine this rigidizer with zircopax and kaolin (range of 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of zircopax to kaolin) to make a very economical reflective coating.  It will eventually wear out over use, but it's reasonably tough and does a nice job making the forge reflect heat.  I also paint this on the hard fire brick that I use to block the front opening of the forge - I paid for that heat, and I don't want it to escape without doing some work.  ITC 100 is nifty stuff, but I like the price of my home brew coating better.

That's a home brew that should work at LEAST as well as ITC-100. ITC-100 isn't a durable wash it's intended to protect furnaces as a consumable, sort of like an ablative heat shield on an Apollo capsule. The approximate ratio in ITC-100 is 70% zirconia - 30% Kaolin, using colloidal silica in the mix should make it more durable.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I used what jcornell used coat my insulating wool, maybe even at his suggestion (don remember) and it holds up well. have not dnone much welding, all of it fluxless so I cannot enlighten you there. Pretty sure someone will chime in with more experience in how flux resistant the mixture is.

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Do you just mix water with the powdered colloidal silica or how does that work? I thought fumed silica and colloidal silica were the same, and I thought colloidal silica was a liquid..?

John-- I'm checking out keener sand and clay.  I've already checked Columbus lime and clay and there refractory cement doesn't sound like it's what I need.  Sounds like it's just the stuff you can buy at a hardware store for fireplaces.  Thanks!

 

 

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"Thanks that helps a lot.  Believe me the tried and true commercial products are gonna be the best I'm sure.   Just drives me crazy thinking there's a place close by that I can buy a lot of the raw materials and make my own brew..."

Yes and no. It is hard to do better than a high quality commercial refractory; they are not simple to concoct, and if you did manage to get it right, you would end up with more money wrapped up in ingredients, some of which have limited shelf life, than just paying up for the commercial option. On the other hand, your money is much better spent with some of the home brew heat reflecting options our members make, than spent on ITC-100; especieally in a forge. 

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Yea it said zircon

The local refractory place is definitely a no go.  Prices a crazy expensive.  They quoted me a 55# bag of Kast o lite for $45.  Which is awesome.  But I have to pay "freight charges", whatever that is, and that is $98 hahaha.  I'm even picking up at the facility.  I can order online with shipping for $103.  So guess that answers that.  

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On 10/27/2016 at 5:33 AM, jcornell said:

I use a fumed silica solution (water and fumed silica) for rigidizer.  I'll combine this rigidizer with zircopax and kaolin (range of 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of zircopax to kaolin) to make a very economical reflective coating. 

There was a guy on a potters web-site that was using just rigidizer and zircopax sans the kaolin and said he used it instead of ITC-100 with great results.  Have you tried this without the kaolin? 

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Rigidizer and zircopax would work as a reflective coating, but it wouldn't do anything to protect your lining against flux.  So, if you're not ever going to use borax in your forge, it might be a good move.

Face it, kaowool with rigidizer is still delicate stuff, prone to get knocked about when you're moving hot steel in and out of the forge.  If you're going to use borax, it will eat holes in your kaowool with great speed.  

Kaowool needs rigidizer to protect the user (from particles) and the kaowool.  Even better is a hot-face surface (MIzzou, Kastolite) that will protect the outer layer of insulation from pokes and from borax.  Even better still is a hot-face surface that reflects heat back into the forge (ITC-100, home-brew zircopax and kaolin, Plistix, Metricote, etc.)

My experiments with rigidizer/zircopax/kaolin was to try to find a  hot face that was reflective - it does a fair job of that, but next I'm going to try something like kastolite with zircopax.

For me, the ongoing experiments and problem solving are almost as satisfying as the blacksmithing itself.

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