Ceramic clays fall into two broad categories - low-fire and high-fire. The key difference lies in the temperatures at which the clays vitrify and become non-porous ceramic material, affecting their material characteristics and suitable uses.
Here we’ll examine low-fire and high-fire clays side-by-side regarding:
Let’s explore the distinct advantages of both low-fire and high-fire clay bodies.
Low-fire clays vitrify at relatively lower kiln temperatures from Cone 06-04 (1922-1945°F). The most commonly used low-fire clays are earthenware and some stoneware bodies.
Properties of low-fire clays:
Low-fire clays work beautifully for:
The porous nature and ease of firing make low-temperature clays ideal for beginning potters, studio classes, and freeform artistry where practical utility is optional.
High-fire clays achieve vitrification at temperatures above Cone 6 (2232°F), ranging up to Cone 10 (2381°F). Stoneware and porcelain comprise most high-fire bodies.
Properties of high-fire clays:
High-fire clays excel for:
The low absorption and high durability make high-fire clays well-suited for commercial ceramics enterprises, industry applications, and any items that will undergo heavy use and wear.
So consider the final application and your access to appropriate kilns when deciding between low-fire and high-fire clays. Understanding their distinct properties allows you to select the ideal clay type for any project.