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Zircopax & bentonite as as plistix alternative?


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I'm finishing up a 2 IFB micro forge that I'm hoping to power with a bernzomatic propane torch. I've put on a layer of Kast-o-lite, which I've been able to have brought in at my local pottery supply shop.

In trying to extract as much heat as I can from the little torch, I'd like to add a coat of IR re-radiating kiln wash based on what I've picked up in forges 101.  I've tried to source Plistix or Matrikote, as they seem to be the preferred coatings on this forum, but nowhere I've asked locally has been able to source them, and the shipping costs to Canada from the US are probibitive... 

I keep coming across mention in older threads of using 97% zircopax and 3% bentonite as being potentially a good performing substitute, but this always seems to be followed by a caveat that more testing is required.  I was able to pick these up locally but wanted to check if anyone has any updates on their experience using this (performance and/or tips for mixing & application? 

If the results haven't been so good with this mix or if something like Plistix would perform significantly better, maybe I just need to bite the bullet and pay to have Plistix shipped over... 

I have a larger propane forge build in the works for later this year, so will have need for more of whatever coating I settle on. 

Also, I wanted to thank the contributors on this forum for their incredible generosity sharing their knowledge. I've read through all of Forges 101 - what an amazing resource! 

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6 hours ago, GCA said:

  I've tried to source Plistix or Matrikote, as they seem to be the preferred coatings on this forum, but nowhere I've asked locally has been able to source them, and the shipping costs to Canada from the US are probibitive... 

Have you PM'd Glenn ,the owner of this website? IFI sells small amounts of refractory materials like Plistix 900f. I'm not sure of the shipping costs but the difference in having to only order five pounds might make it more affordable. International flat rate boxes start at $28.50usd. 

Pnut

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If you already have the stuff on hand you might as well make a test piece.  I have achieved a result with bentonite + molochite + zircopax. For a kiln wash you may get away with omitting the molochite.  I have had repeatable results (paint-ability, and no cracking on drying) by noting and using a specific gravity of 1.25. This simply means that 100 ml of volume of your wash should weigh 125 grams. (100 ml is a good amount for testing as well)

  • Weigh the dry components and mix dry. (start with 24.25 grams of zircopax to .75 grams of bentonite. if you don't have a scale that fine round up to 24 and 1)
  • Add dry mixture to your 100 ml of water while mixing (stirring is good enough at this stage)
  • Take a drill with mixing attachment or similar to thoroughly mix.
  • check if 100 ml weighs 125 grams 

Take a paint brush and paint your scrap piece. Let dry for 12 to 24 hours before firing. (make sure it fits your forge.) Note that depending on how long you fire the coating may still be a but powdery to the touch, this should become less after multiple firings. Also it should not flake.

Let me state again that my recipe had an extra addition so you will be doing the testing here :). Using scrap kiln shelf and IFB helped me a lot in formulating recipes.  If you decide to go this way let us know how it pans out.

 

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Thanks guys. Glenn is no longer shipping outside of the US, but I managed to get hold of Wayne and he can send Plistix over in a flat rate box for a very reasonable amount.  I forgot that the last time I looked into importing into Canada it was for a larger weight of Kast-o-lite. 

Thanks very much MonkeyForge for the details on how to prepare the bentonite and zircopax!  I am excited to try that with the stuff I have, and the mixing instructions are a great start for experimenting. 

I think I will order some Plistix for the tiny forge for now, as I really want to squeeze as much heat out of the hand torch as possible. But I will experiment with the homebrew wash when I get my larger forge up and running. 

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