Buying Liquid vs Dry Glazes

Laguna Dry 5 lb

We often hear from people who are trying to decide whether to purchase glazes in liquid form or dry form. They are often comparing the cost of the glazes, thinking dry is less expensive. As you will see below, the cost difference between liquid and dry is not dramatic. However, purchasing in larger sized units (i.e. gallons vs pints) is dramatic in terms of lowering your cost.

Spectrum Liquid Pint

The thing that should determine whether you choose liquid or dry glazes is how they are formulated, and how you plan to apply them. In most cases, dry glazes are formulated for dipping or spraying, while liquid glazes are formulated for brushing. The liquid glazes have brushing medium (such as CMC or brushing medium) so they can be brushed on.

You can add your own brushing medium to dry glazes, if you want to brush them on. However, you can't take the brushing medium out of liquid glazes, if you decide you want to dip your pieces instead. In some cases you can thin liquid glazes to help make them more conducive to dipping. However they will tend to dry more slowly, so you may get drips or runs.

Specifics by manufacturer:

Spectrum glazes
Other than the Nova product line, liquid forms of glaze are designed for brushing, and dry forms are designed for dipping. Nova glazes are an exception because the whole line is designed for dipping; you can buy it in liquid or dry form, but it is all formulated for dipping.
Coyote glazes
Are not formulated differently for dipping or brushing. Coyote tries to use an amount of brushing medium that works for brushing, but still works for dipping.
Amaco glazes
Liquid forms of glaze are formulated for brushing, and dry forms are formulated for dipping. Trying to add water to liquid forms of glaze (to thin it) and dip is not recommended. However, Amaco does make a product called suspendaid which you can use to convert a brushing glaze to a dipping glaze. (We will be carrying this product soon.)
Laguna glazes
Liquid forms are formulated for brushing, and dry forms are formulated for dipping.

Cost:

Some people believe there is a large cost savings in buying dry glazes, however most of the cost of glazes is in the raw materials. As you can see in this comparison for Coyote glazes, there is a slight cost advantage to buying dry vs. liquid, but not that much. The real cost savings comes from buying larger unit sizes (i.e. gallons instead of pints).

Coyote Shino example:

Size Cost Comments
Pint  $12.80  
Gallon  $67.60  34% less expensive than pint
3 Gallon $166.10  46% less expensive than pint
10# dry $64.50  makes a little over a gallon when mixed, so slightly less expensive 
 than a gallon
25# dry $145.20  10% less per pound  -  makes about 3 gallons so about 12% less expensive
 than a 3 gallon bucket 

We did the same comparison on Amaco Potters Choice glaze. It was 37% less to buy in gallons than pints. The 25# size was very close to the price of 3 gallons, so the observation that liquid and dry cost about the same holds true here as well.

Note: The amount of water to add to dry glazes varies. 25# will make 3 to 3.5 gallons of glaze. It varies not only on the glaze itself, but on how you use it. The more porous your bisque, the more it will absorb glaze. Also the number of dips and length of your dips will affect how you should mix it. Many people use mixing guidelines such as "the consistency of skim milk" or "the consistency of cream." Whichever you choose, it is usually best for you to be consistent with your bisque firing temperatures (which affects the bisque porosity, thus glaze absorption), and how thickly you mix your glazes. Then, adjust your number of dips and length of dips based on firing tests you have done and the firing results you want to achieve.

Also remember that dry glazes should be sieved after mixing. In this process you push the mixed glaze through a sieve into a separate bucket, then back again. 

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Big Ceramic Store LLC543 Vista Blvd
Sparks, NV 89434
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