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You can store it dry for as long as you want. I would think that trying to store it wet would cause the pieces to clump together badly when you try to get it out and spread it in your new viv. The finished clay product should not be handled when wet or it will clump together.

I just meant that I have a wet mix on hand. When I am ready I take out what I need, air dry it, press it through the screen and then bake it.
 

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I have searched all over, including ebay and craft stores, and no one carries "RedArt" clay. Is there a different name for it i don't know about?
 

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Discussion Starter #64
I just meant that I have a wet mix on hand. When I am ready I take out what I need, air dry it, press it through the screen and then bake it.
That should work fine for some mixes, although I think with my mix you may have mold problems if you store it wet. The reason would be the cornstarch and sugar in the mix. They are there to encourage a biofilm to help in keeping the clay intact. Eventually, the mold would pass, but then the cornstarch and sugar may be rendered inert.

I have searched all over, including ebay and craft stores, and no one carries "RedArt" clay. Is there a different name for it i don't know about?
The supplier I listed earlier, Mile Hi Ceramics - Ceramic supplies, Pottery supplies , Ships all over the states. I did not see it listed on their website, but I know they have it. You may just have to email or call them.

Thanks Okapi, multiple sources are great to have. Anybody else with a good clay source is welcome to throw it up here.
 

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Pumilo, your idea for pushing the clay through a screen was good, I'll give you that. BUT, this is faster!

Amazon.com: Play-Doh: Fun Factory Deluxe Set: Toys & Games


See that doohickey with the red handle in the center of the box? Yea, that will push clay our in about the same size lines as your screen. Then, just take a straight edge and "chop chop chop" like your cutting vegetables. BAM, you're done.

Disclaimer: May contain choking hazards.
 

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Clay is very important for cation (pronounced cat-ion) exchange which allows plants to absorb nutrients. I always have clay in my planted aquarium substrate so the plants do not become nutrient bond
 

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Awesome DIY Pumilo! Really helped me out for my next tank. I’m currently finished mixing my batch and I'm about to start the baking process. A few questions first though.

I’m interested in prolonging the life of the clay the best I can, while still maintaining all the positive effects of using this method. You baked your clay at 300 degrees, but have you or anyone else ever tried baking it at higher temperatures?

Here is a clay firing temperature chart...

212° F -Water boils.
212 to 392° F - Clays loses water.
392° F - Typical kitchen oven baking temperature.
705° F - Chemically combined water leaves clay.
932° F - Red glow in kiln.
1063° F -Quartz inversion
1472° F - Organic matter in clay burns out.
1472 to 1832° F - Low fire earthenwares and lowfire lead glazes mature.
Normal firing temperature for red bricks and terra cotta pots.

***as an additional note, most home ovens will reach 700-900 degrees during the self clean cycle***

By looking at the chart I can only assume that at 705 degrees, clay has reached the point where it becomes much more stable and solid, due to chemically combined water leaving the clay. Just to be safe, I checked the temperature at which calcium carbonate will dissociate. It forms calcium oxide at 825 degrees. However even if this temperature is exceeded, all that is needed to reverse the process is some good ol' H2O. I’m unsure of how the rest of the ingredients will act, but the main benefits of this method are calcium absorption and surface area for micro fauna growth.

Anybody have thoughts on this, or has anyone already tried baking at cleaning cycle temperatures? Good, bad, ugly? I’m curious as to if this could help extend the life of the clay.
 

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Thanks for the simple recipe. I was going to make the more complicated version (Matt's), but I wasn't able to find everything locally.

I didn't press it through a screen and then bake it, although after seeing ChrisK's pictures I might just end up doing that. I baked it, then just broke the clay into chunks (1in sq & smaller).
 

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Discussion Starter #71
Awesome DIY Pumilo! Really helped me out for my next tank. I’m currently finished mixing my batch and I'm about to start the baking process. A few questions first though.

I’m interested in prolonging the life of the clay the best I can, while still maintaining all the positive effects of using this method. You baked your clay at 300 degrees, but have you or anyone else ever tried baking it at higher temperatures?

Here is a clay firing temperature chart...

212° F -Water boils.
212 to 392° F - Clays loses water.
392° F - Typical kitchen oven baking temperature.
705° F - Chemically combined water leaves clay.
932° F - Red glow in kiln.
1063° F -Quartz inversion
1472° F - Organic matter in clay burns out.
1472 to 1832° F - Low fire earthenwares and lowfire lead glazes mature.
Normal firing temperature for red bricks and terra cotta pots.

***as an additional note, most home ovens will reach 700-900 degrees during the self clean cycle***

By looking at the chart I can only assume that at 705 degrees, clay has reached the point where it becomes much more stable and solid, due to chemically combined water leaving the clay. Just to be safe, I checked the temperature at which calcium carbonate will dissociate. It forms calcium oxide at 825 degrees. However even if this temperature is exceeded, all that is needed to reverse the process is some good ol' H2O. I’m unsure of how the rest of the ingredients will act, but the main benefits of this method are calcium absorption and surface area for micro fauna growth.

Anybody have thoughts on this, or has anyone already tried baking at cleaning cycle temperatures? Good, bad, ugly? I’m curious as to if this could help extend the life of the clay.
Thanks Grimm, I'm afraid I'm in the dark about trying higher temps. I baked it simply to speed the drying. I would be concerned that firing it too high (and too hard), could lock the calcium up into the hardened clay pellets so that the frogs were unable to digest tiny bits of it.

Thanks for the simple recipe. I was going to make the more complicated version (Matt's), but I wasn't able to find everything locally.

I didn't press it through a screen and then bake it, although after seeing ChrisK's pictures I might just end up doing that. I baked it, then just broke the clay into chunks (1in sq & smaller).
Hey Steven, in a PM from Matt, he told me he has gone back to locally collected clay which he amends with minerals and calcium. He did not state details why.
Obviously, I don't know the longevity of the clay structure, but I tried both crumbling, and screening, and I really love the particle size of running through the 1/4" screen. It just seems to have so many nice sized cracks and crevasses. I know my isopods and springtails are loving crawling through it! I found that with crumbling, many of the smaller bits, fell into and plugged up much of the open structure that the bigger pieces were creating.
 

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Clay is very important for cation (pronounced cat-ion) exchange which allows plants to absorb nutrients. I always have clay in my planted aquarium substrate so the plants do not become nutrient bond
Hi all,

Great thread. Just saw it and have been reading through it.

To make different sized chunks, you can get different sized hardware cloth, also know as welded wire mesh.

Hardware Cloth


The sizes that might be relevant to us are 1/8 inch, 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch square openings.







You can get them at big box places like Home Depot and Lowes in as small as 10 foot rolls. You may also be able to get smaller amounts from farm and garden stores like Costal, farmers coops, etc. They sell them for building cages for various animals.


The other tool that would be very helpful in making various size pieces easily would be to use a grout float.




You can purchase cheap ones from Home Depot for about $3.00. It would make it very easy to push the clay chunks through the hardware fabric saving a lot of ware and tare on your hands and fingers. The amount of pressure that you push on the clay will allow you to vary the size of the particles coming out the back side.
 

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Discussion Starter #73
Hi all,

Great thread. Just saw it and have been reading through it.

To make different sized chunks, you can get different sized hardware cloth, also know as welded wire mesh.

Hardware Cloth


The sizes that might be relevant to us are 1/8 inch, 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch square openings.







You can get them at big box places like Home Depot and Lowes in as small as 10 foot rolls. You may also be able to get smaller amounts from farm and garden stores like Costal, farmers coops, etc. They sell them for building cages for various animals.


The other tool that would be very helpful in making various size pieces easily would be to use a grout float.




You can purchase cheap ones from Home Depot for about $3.00. It would make it very easy to push the clay chunks through the hardware fabric saving a lot of ware and tare on your hands and fingers. The amount of pressure that you push on the clay will allow you to vary the size of the particles coming out the back side.
Thanks Dave, that hardware cloth is the stuff I use to mold the clay into proper sized pieces. Ed originally recommended using the 1/4 inch size and I totally agree that the 1/4 inch makes for a very "microfauna friendly" size.
The link to the groat float is not working. Can you try again on that please? I would like to see it.
 

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Doug - I've got about 5 tanks full of this clay substrate (with turface underneath) at this point.

I've got frogs residing in one of them, and a boatload of frogs due in this week.

Thank you for the thread - it was very helpful.

For the record - I've just been using the Tucson sun to bake the clay. Does the trick in 48 hours or less, and it's not even summer yet. ;)

s
 

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Sweet Scott! Glad I'm able to pass on some of the help that people here have given to me! It's just getting warm enough here in Colorado to try some sun drying. My wife will be glad to get my "mud" out of the kitchen!
 

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Hi Doug,

Was wondering how large an area your recipe covers? Looking into possibly whipping up a clay substrate for a big ole' display tank construction over the summer, and this looks like a much more longer-lasting alternative over ABG.
 

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Hi Doug,

Was wondering how large an area your recipe covers? Looking into possibly whipping up a clay substrate for a big ole' display tank construction over the summer, and this looks like a much more longer-lasting alternative over ABG.
It covers quite a bit actually, I doubled the recipe, and was able to do about 3/4 of an inch of clay in a 29 gallon tank.
 

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Hi Doug,

Was wondering how large an area your recipe covers? Looking into possibly whipping up a clay substrate for a big ole' display tank construction over the summer, and this looks like a much more longer-lasting alternative over ABG.
It's so dependant upon how thick a layer you want. I think out of a double batch, I did a 24" x 24" bottom and a 12" x 24" bottom nice and thick. Like 1" at the thinnest with other areas pushing more than 2".
 

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Great, that's a perfect point of reference. So with the 2" of clay over the turface, that's only about maybe 3" - this will be enough for plants?
 

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Great, that's a perfect point of reference. So with the 2" of clay over the turface, that's only about maybe 3" - this will be enough for plants?
two inches is more than sufficient. I have tanks where much less is used with no problems with plant growth.
You just have to make sure the clay can drain throughly. I use an air gap under the false bottom to allow the clay to drain throughly.
 
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