Ball clay is an extremely rare rock, only found at a handful of locations around the world. Ball clay is particularly valued as a base material in the manufacture of ceramics.
A rare rock prized for its plasticity
Ball clays are kaolinitic clays that commonly consist of 20–80% kaolinite, 10–25% mica, 6–65% quartz, as well as organic matter. Ball clay is formed from the weathering and transportation by water of parent rocks. Seams in the same deposit will vary in composition, depending on the quantity of the principal and accessory minerals.
Ball clays are fine-grained, highly plastic clays, which are principally used in the manufacture of ceramic whiteware and sanitaryware where they are appreciated for their plasticity, unfired strength and their light colour on firing. Selected clays can even give pure white end products.
Among others, ball clays are also used in refractories, in polymers, in adhesives and sealants and in horticulture as soil amendments.
Ball clay is a silicate clay rock of which kaolinite is the main constituent:
- High plasticity
- Excellent workability
- High unfired strength
- Rheological stability
- Controlled residue
Wide portfolio providing selected blends
Imerys mines ball clay from its deposits in England, France, Thailand and the United States.
We also make use of ball clay blending platforms in Egypt, India, Indonesia and Brazil to ensure that we produce ball clays that address the technical challenges of each specific region.
By carefully processing and blending selected clays from different locations we can provide high-quality products for a range of applications.
A crucial constituent of ceramics
Combined with kaolin, Imerys ball clays provide the cohesion and workability necessary for the creation of ceramic parts such as sanitaryware.
Used with kaolin, feldspar and quartz in tableware, ball clay confers high plasticity and a good white-fired colour to the end product.
In wall and floor tiles, ball clays are prized for their plasticity and bonding properties.
In glazes and engobes, they ensure a perfect finish.
Electrical porcelain insulators contain plastic clays to provide insulation from high voltage currents.
For refractory applications, Imerys ball clays and chamottes with a high alumina content are used as binders for refractory brick production or as additives to improve plasticity during refractory installation.
Imerys plastic clays are also used as fine multi-functional fillers and extenders to enhance the performance of plastics, rubber, adhesives and sealants, fertilizers and insecticides.
At Imerys, we have a deep understanding of our customers' requirements and their markets through more than 200 years of combined experience. Our teams will continue to help customers meet their technical challenges, providing local support and the best ball clay blends to enhance their performance.