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Recycling Clay - Turns Black And Stinky

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Hi all! I've been recycling my white stoneware clay for a while, but recently I noticed that when I stir it in the bucket, everything below the surface has significantly darkened in color. It also stinks so badly that I nearly gag. Is this normal or did I do something differently/wrong in this batch?

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Rotting smells are common. Especially if you have added green ware to the slop bucket -- it brings in lots of air.

 

I like adding a touch of copper carbonate and then giving it a stir. I use less than a gram for my 20 gallons of slop. At this small percentage it doesn't change the color of anything. I only have to do this once in awhile.

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White vinegar would also help with the smell.

 

Except it is a flocculant so it's going to have an effect on the clay. I use a titch of bleach, stir it up and let it sit for a few days, most of the bleachy smell is gone by then.

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There are times when this gets to be extreme. I had problems with this when after aging some slop that I had slaked down at the HS. I usually slaked the dry/leather hard clay together, and then let it sit for a few weeks to completely dissolve or soften. Then run through the pug mill.  Digging through the slop I found a lot of black veins running through a clay that usually was fine. Pulled on vein out with my hands grasping it, finding that someone had pitched a piece of paper towel into the barrel. Came to realize that we had been making slab forms over rocks, cylinders, and other items using paper towel as a release liner. On finished pots no problem as it burned out. On recycled clay-too much organic material in the clay causing the smell and black veins. Is it possible you have gotten some organic material in the clay?

 

 

best,

Pres

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We use a lot of slip for handle attachments-the slip always gets funky smelling unless you put a dap of white vinegar in it. I keep a gallon in studio-this will fix your foul smelling clay. just a little goes a long ways.

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Is it possible you have gotten some organic material in the clay?

 

 

 

Paper towels are inorganic.  Most likely organic matter:  skin cells from the potters, sweat. 

 

 

Paper towels are organic. Paper is made from trees, unless of course you are talking about plastic trees :), then you are right.  :D

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Is it possible you have gotten some organic material in the clay?

 

 

 

Paper towels are inorganic.  Most likely organic matter:  skin cells from the potters, sweat. 

 

 

Paper towels are organic. Paper is made from trees, unless of course you are talking about plastic trees :), then you are right.  :D

 

 

Yep.  You and Pres are correct.  Which explains why I transferred out of chemistry before failing the course. 

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On the subject of organic matter - That makes a lot of sense . I live in a small apartment and have two dogs and a cat around the studio. Their hair gets everywhere, including in my clay and my recycling buckets.

 

Does the smell and the black color affect the clay at all, or is it still fine and usable?

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I had a bag of new clay that lived in the greenhouse for a year or so.  Had some lovely green furry growth when I opened it.  Wedged it in and fired OK.  Love aged clay, it's valuable.

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