That sodium silicate is regularly used to bind sand particles to form a solid and usable mold is old news. It is also common knowledge among artists that the same sodium silicate compound is often used to create a lovely antique patina on different types of ceramic products.
However, not many people (artists included) are aware of the other varied uses of this multi-purpose compound popularly known as water glass or even liquid glass.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Bonding and sealing – Sodium silicate works as an excellent adhesive for bonding and coating applications. Apply a thin layer between two materials and let it air dry. The acidic reaction will form a hard glassy gel that effectively functions as a rigid, resilient and tightly adhering bond. The ‘glue’ bond will be resistant to moisture, fire and even high temperatures. As water glass is available at quite a low price in the market, it becomes the most cost-efficient adhesive for different materials like metals, paper, plaster, ceramics, glass, fiberglass and even refractory materials.
Similarly, it can also be used to make porous concrete and plaster quite waterproof. Again, apply a thin coat on the surface that will bind to the concrete and seal it, not allowing water or other liquids to permeate through it.
Deflocculant – You will be surprised to know that sodium silicate is also a commonly used deflocculant for clay. A major issue with clay slips is that they contain a lot of water which causes the slip to shrink as it dries. This item is used to thin the clay – it works by dispersing the particles which greatly reduces its viscosity.
However, you need to mix the clay, water and water glass in a precise ratio with the latter never exceeding.5% of the entire formulation. This is essential due to the fact that after this point water glass starts having a starkly opposite effect on the clay mixture. Excess water glass will paradoxically make the clay thicker or flocculate it!
If you cross the fine boundary, you will have to add more clay to get the desired consistency or just discard the mixture altogether. Therefore, it is advisable that beginners should add small amounts of liquid sodium silicate for deflocculation before they get a hang of the procedure and ratios. Yet, the cheap price again makes water glass compound the most low-cost deflocculant possible for clay!
In sum, water glass suits a varied range of applications. And while you are putting this compound to different uses, you can rest assured that the inorganic sand and alkali present in the water glass are completely non-toxic and safe for the environment as well. Just ensure that you seal the containers properly and store them in a cool, dry and well ventilated area. It is better not to allow it to freeze either. Unopened and properly stored containers can last long, really long!