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It's definitely not something I would use. Is it for the colour response of colouring oxides you want to use it or to create a matte or just because it's part of a recipe you use? Strontium carbonate can be subbed at 75% of the amount of barium carbonate that is called for in the recipe but if it's the main flux in the glaze it won't have the same colour response,  "barium blues" for example won't look the same. Much of the danger of barium carbonate is to the potter making the glaze but any surface used for food surfaces should be tested for leaching. If the glaze isn't a fully melted stable glass there will be barium leaching. Good article on barium safety here

Welcome to the forum :)

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I've read that the main problem with barium is that the desirable effects it causes also cause it to be nondurable.  So a glaze that doesn't work with a strontium substitute will not be durable with barium.

Edited by liambesaw

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I wouldn't use it on a surface where it contacts food. Bigger problem is that raw  barium can enter the potters' body through skin contact. Air born dust is also BAD. Always use gloves and masks when working around barium.

Marcia

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Have you ever heard of a documented case of barium  poisoning?  The only one I've ever heard of was a case of mistaking barium for for baking powder.  I'm not saying reasonable precautions aren't advisable,   I would like to see the data on raw barium entering the body through skin contact.  Doesn't seem like we hear much about death by potter's studio.

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It isn't something mentioned in everyday conversation. You need to be proactive in researching what you are using. You can check individual materials MSDS sheets. Check some of the Black clays for example for their manganese content. When I was teaching at the university, we had to eliminate Barium from the studio back in the 80s.

https://www.hazwastehelp.org/ArtHazards/ceramics.aspx

https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/barium/casedef.asp

We do know that Hans Coper and Dave Shaner were both  poisoned by Manganese in their work and eventually died from it.

. It is good to be aware of your materials. Heavy metals accumulate in the body and over time can take their toll.

 

Marcia

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The case description of barium specifically states ingestion.  No mention of skin absorption.  Also, the description of toxic amounts is missing.  I suspect it's a pretty good amount.

I live in California where every single thing has a warning label.   For me it's the old Boy Who Cried Wolf.  I handle barium just like any other glaze ingredient.

Your mileage may vary.

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1 hour ago, CactusPots said:

The case description of barium specifically states ingestion.  No mention of skin absorption.  Also, the description of toxic amounts is missing.  I suspect it's a pretty good amount.

I live in California where every single thing has a warning label.   For me it's the old Boy Who Cried Wolf.  I handle barium just like any other glaze ingredient.

Your mileage may vary.

According to the sds of both barium carbonate and barium oxide it shows as a skin irritant as well.  They're also both water soluble and are dangerous to aquatic life, so water contamination is a risk.

Important to read the SDS of all of the minerals we use so we can gauge the risks we are exposed to as potters, and the risk we expose others to as consumers as well. 

I'd say the biggest risk involved with barium for the Potter is inhalation of vapor during firing and inhalation of the raw material, this is a direct pathway to our internal organs.  The occupational safety limit for airborne barium oxide is under half a milligram per cubic meter which is an extremely tiny amount, wear your respirator!

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Remember that barium carbonate once ingested and subject to the hydrochloric acid in our stomachs converts to barium chloride which is definitely known to be toxic.  Barium carb is known to precipitate out of a glaze matrix if the glaze isn't well balanced therefore can be subject to leaching. It's not a case of an acute poisoning (like the deaths attributed to it in this article) but a situation where it could be a chronic issue. 

 

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Liam said 

"I'd say the biggest risk involved with barium for the Potter is inhalation of vapor during firing and inhalation of the raw material, this is a direct pathway to our internal organs.  The occupational safety limit for airborne barium oxide is under half a milligram per cubic meter which is an extremely tiny amount, wear your respirator!"

Dave Shaner attributes his decline to the fumes from his kiln. Hans Coper who also used manganese extensively, declined so much towards the end that he needed a rope alone the walk to his studio. Nervous system deterioration.

Marcia

 

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