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Petalite

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Petalite is a lithium aluminum silicate mineral (more simply a lithium feldspar) that is commonly used in clay bodies. It is valuable because it provides an insoluble source of lithium (lithium carbonate is soluble) and has the highest Li2O:Al2O3 ratio of any natural mineral. Lithium is a strong alkaline flux and is effective over all temperature ranges. It and imparts lower expansion and gives unique color response to copper and cobalt in glazes.

 It is especially valuable in imparting thermal shock resistance to clay bodies because it has almost zero expansion when heated above 700C. Bodies with 60%+ petalite can take a direct flame and rapid water cooling without failure. To make a plastic clay body mix petalite with as much ball clay as needed. For a casting body, use as much kaolin as needed to achieve the desired casting properties. Bentonite can be added to either type of body to increase the petalite proportion.

One serious problem with low expansion petalite bodies is that it is very difficult to achieve glaze fit. All common glazes will craze. This is compounded at lower temperatures where the limited low-expansion silica and alumina necessary for melting raises glaze expansion. For some low-expansion bodies, it is almost impossible to match a glaze. Flame ware bodies can be made with 50-60% petalite.

A substitute for petalite can be made from 25% feldspar and 75% spodumene.
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