Ball clay is an extremely rare mineral found in very few places around the world. Ball Clay in Beawar, Rajasthan is widely popular among various industrial applications. There are vast deposits of Ball Clay in Beawar, Rajasthan Belt in India. Ball clay is basically sedimentary in origin. Ancient rivers and streams wash kaolinite (formed from decomposed granite) from its parent rock. As the streams flowed from upland area they mixed with other clay minerals before settling in low-lying basins to form overlaying seams of ball clay.
Ball clay usually contain three dominant minerals:
- 20-80% Kaolinite
- 10-25% Mica
- 6-65% Quartz
In addition, there are other ‘accessory’ minerals and some carbonaceous material (derived from ancient plants) present. The wide variation both in mineral composition and in the size of the clay particles results in different characteristics for individual clay seams within a deposit.
Refined clay is available in ‘noodled’ and slurried form. Ball clay also sold in a partially dried form, which consist of golf ball size materials that are not powdered. Internationally, deposits of high quality ball clay are much rarer than those of kaolin.
Major Industrial Applications of Ball Clay:
A vital material for Ceramic Industry – Ball clay is used in many different industries, but in particular form a vital component in ceramic manufacturing. Kaolin (‘china clay’) produces a very white color when it is fired, but used alone it is brittle and weak and must be mixed with ball clay to produce a workable, malleable raw material. As a result of their sedimentary origin, raw ball clay have a wide range of colors. However, many of them are valued by the ceramics industry for their white-firing properties, which are determined by the levels of iron and other coloring/fluxing oxides within the clay.
Sanitaryware – A ‘ceramic body’ for sanitaryware typically includes 30% ball clay to provide plasticity and workability, 20% kaolin, 30% feldspar and 20% quartz/silica.
Tableware – Ceramic tableware utilizes ball clay to provide high plasticity and a good white-fired color, combined with kaolin, feldspar and quartz.
Wall and Floor Tiles – Combined with talc, feldspar, quartz/silica and kaolin, ball clay is utilized for their plasticity and bonding properties.
Glazes and Engobes – Ball clay is also used in the production of coatings for ceramic products to ensure the perfect finish.
Refractory Clay – An ability to resist the effects of extremely high temperatures makes ball clay ideal for use in refractory products such as kiln insulation and furniture.
Construction ceramics – Building materials such as bricks, clay pipes and roof tiles uses ball clay.
Electrical Porcelain Insulators: You will find ball clay in the electrical porcelain components that provide insulation from high voltage currents.
Non-ceramic applications – These include the construction industry; horticulture, agriculture and amenity industries; use as fillers and extenders in polymers, adhesives, plastics, sealants, fertilizers and insecticides