Glass Separator or Kiln Wash and Fiber Paper
In this section, we will explain the difference between using kiln wash or fiber paper. It is important to understand kiln wash for glass is very different than kiln wash you put on your regular big kiln shelves for ceramics. People in the glass world may call it kiln wash, but those doing ceramics and glass would do well to differentiate them. Kiln wash is for coating your kiln shelves for ceramics. Glass separator, either in powder or pre-mixed form, is for glass kiln shelves and glass molds. And folks in the glass world usually call it kiln wash!
For the purpose of this article, we will use them interchangeably, but remember, we always mean glass separator unless specifically designated otherwise.
Glass will stick to most surfaces when it gets hot and to keep it from melting onto kiln shelves and molds, we treat these surfaces with glass separator. Kiln shelves can be prepared for glass by either applying the separator to the top of the shelf or by cutting a piece of specially made paper, called thin fire fiber paper, and placing it on the shelf and putting the glass ON the paper. Even most molds that are used for either frit casting, sagging, draping or slumping, must be coated before they have glass put in or on them and fired in the kiln.
When you buy a glass kiln, the furniture kit usually comes with a bag of powder glass separator. It is mixed with water to form a thin creamy liquid, or it can also be bought pre-mixed. The glass separator is applied to the shelf with a special brush called a haike brush although most people use a simple decent paint brush. Just don’t use one of your good painting brushes and don’t use a brush that has ever been used for something else. If there are any particles left behind in the ferule of the brush and gets mixed in with the separator, you could potentially have some kind of toxic emission. Three or four coats of glass separator are usually sufficient when each coat is brushed on in a different direction than the previous one. When it dries, it keeps the glass from sticking directly to the kiln shelf.
You don’t have to reapply glass separator on your kiln shelves every single time, only when the wash begin to comes off either from sticking to a piece of glass or just wear and tear.
Be aware - this product is NOT what you put on your molds.
When using frit or dam molds and especially the Frit Molds, we recommend Hotline Primo Primer - 4 thin coats. (Yes, this container says Kiln Shelf Wash which is one of the reasons so many people can get confused!) Some people prefer Boron Nitride spray or brush on instead of brushed on Primo Primer glass separator.
Reapply Primo Primer or Boron Nitride, a special glass separator, every time you fire a Dam Mold or Frit mold to a full fuse because the mold, glass and separator are being exposed to high temps for a long period of time and the glass is becoming a sticky fluid. All glass molds must be treated before being used.
Primo Primer and Boron Nitride are NOT for the kiln shelves.
Removing Glass Separator
If you use the powdered glass separator on your glass kiln shelves and then use thin fire paper on the shelf also, your kiln shelves should not have to be re-done each time you fire. Yes, you will want to treat your glass molds each time you go to use them for slumping, draping and dropping.