Commercial Glazes vs Mixing Your Own – A Cost Comparison
The Cost of Mixing Glazes From Scratch
(All prices in this article are in Canadian dollars and were valid in Oct 2021)
For those of you who already mix your own glazes, did you know that you can input the costs of your raw materials into Glazy.org and it will calculate the cost of each of your glaze recipes?
Just login at Glazy.org > Click your name at the top > My Home > Materials Inventory
Enter the price you paid for each material. Then you can go to any of your glaze recipes and fill in the “batch size” and “units for price estimate” fields and it will tell you the cost of that glaze.
Here’s an example of Sue’s Clear – for a batch size of 1000g, the material cost is $3.92. A 10,000g batch would cost $39.20.
These are actual costs in Canadian $ from my local supplier in Oct 2021. Yours might be very different
If I cut that in half, 500g of dry glaze plus water will generally make more than a pint of liquid glaze. I’ll err on the generous side for the purposes of this comparison and say that 500g dry = 1 pint liquid glaze.
So for this particular clear glaze, my material cost is roughly $1.96/pint.
Out of interest, I did a search on Glazy for cone 6 clear glazes to compare. The costs depend on the materials they are made with. High frit glazes cost more than glazes made with mainly raw materials. My clear glaze fell in the middle with most clear glazes costing between $1.50-$2.50 for a 500g batch size.
For another comparison, let’s look at the cost of a glaze containing an expensive colourant like cobalt. This is one of our studio recipes, Sapphire Blue.
Here, I entered 500g as my batch size and the cost is $4.92. Notice that almost 50% of the cost of this glaze comes from the added colourants. A good thing to keep in mind!
So, we’ve got a pint or 500g of glaze mixed from scratch averaging between $2-$5.
The cost of commercial glazes
Let’s compare with some cone 6 commercial glaze prices.
In order to compare apples to apples, I’ll use the prices from the same local pottery supply shop where I got my raw material prices (in Oct 2021). These are in Canadian dollars. Your prices may be very different.
Bottled glazes sold by the pint
Amaco Potter’s Choice glazes = $22-$25/pint
Amaco Celadon glazes = $22/pint
Spectrum Hi Fire glazes = $13-$28/pint depending on colourants
Spectrum Shino glazes = $20/pint
Spectrum Celadon glazes = $13/pint
Moroccan Sand glazes = $23/pint
Most of the glazes are over $20/pint but we’ll go with an average price of $20/pint for commercial bottled glazes.
Dry powdered glazes – just add water
Plainsman G2926B Clear glaze – $8.30/500g
Plainsman G2934 Matte glaze – $9.35/500g
These are base glazes that you can add your own colourants to so our comparison would be with the cost of a base glaze without colourants – $1.50-$2.50
So in a very general conclusion, the cost of buying commercially prepared glazes is roughly 4-10 times more than the material costs for mixing your glazes from scratch. Even though prices inevitably increase over time, the relative difference between the options remains. And the cost of using commercial glazes can really add up if you’re glazing lots of pots.
Of course, you need to account for the time it takes to mix glazes. The larger your glaze batch sizes are, the cheaper your labour costs will be.
You also need to account for the up front expenses of purchasing buckets and sieves for glaze mixing and you need space to store all your glaze materials.
With all that taken into consideration, it’s still much more cost effective to mix your own glazes from scratch, in the long run.
A long time ago, I did a full cost analysis including labour for the public pottery studio where I work and it made way more fiscal sense for us to continue paying technicians to mix glazes from scratch than to switch to buying buckets of commercial glaze.
Not to mention the freedom that comes from mixing your own glazes and the ability to control, alter and troubleshoot them.
When you find a glaze recipe you like, you can do a colour run to discover new colours of compatible glazes, using the same base glaze.
When glaze problems arise, knowing the recipe of your glaze makes it way easier to troubleshoot and solve the problem. When people ask me for help with their glazes, I can almost always figure out the problem when they give me the recipe. If we don’t know the recipe, it can take more tests and firings to solve the problem.
I hope that this blog post has been informative for you if you’ve been considering learning to mix your own glazes from scratch or considering switching to commercial glazes. Both have benefits and drawbacks and the right choice for you really depends on your individual situation.
Join my free community
If you love learning about and discussing glazes, I'd like to invite you to my free social learning Facebook group called Understanding Glazes with Sue. The group is full of videos and discussions about firing, mixing glazes and fixing various glaze issues. Please join!
5 Ways You Can Make Your Glazes More Amazing (using glaze chemistry)
If you’ve ever wished your glaze could be just a little more…
- cost effective
- compatible with your other glazes
… then you don’t want to miss this free class!
Date: Sep 21, 2023
Time: 10:00am Pacific / 1:00pm Eastern / 6:00pm UK time.
A replay will be available to watch for a limited time if you can't make it live.
The Art of Glaze Chemistry
Learn how glazes are formulated by using the UMF (unity molecular formula) and glaze calculation software to:
- create different glaze surfaces like matte, satin or glossy
- get glazes to melt at different temperatures or ensure your glaze is being fired to the right temp
- create durable, functional glazes
- fine tune the colours of your glazes
- fix crazing and other thermal expansion issues
This is a deep dive into all the chemistry that's happening inside the kiln.
Registration open Sep 21-29, 2023.
Learn to Mix Glazes from Scratch
If you’ve never mixed a glaze from scratch before and want to learn, I teach an online workshop called Glaze Mixing Essentials where I show you all the steps to mix a glaze and then test a base glaze with multiple colourants. Click the link for all the details.
September sale: Save $30 if you register by Sep 30, 2023.