I ordered a borax cone and dish because it is an economical, safe, and excellent flux. My problem is the dish seems to soak up water like a sponge. I add a little water to the dish, rotate the borax cone, get a lovely smooth paste and by the time I put down the cone and pick up a flux brush, the paste has dried. Any ideas about keeping the paste wet longer?
I read through the archives and tried a suggestion - slate. Water rolled off the slate onto the bench. I did find something to use though around the house. My daughter is a potter. She made us a plate with an inner circle of non-glazed clay (used to rub raw garlic around and around before adding olive oil and balsamic to dip your bread into). This works perfectly! The clay is rough enough, the plate holds the water in the middle, and the smooth paste stays moist a long time. Yea!
I just ordered a dish too! I was using a piece of ceramic tile, which worked really well but it was messy. I noticed that it took some time for me to build up enough borax in the dish to use. I’m interested in what your daughter made. Would she be willing to sell something like that?
I wonder if a Chinese calligraphy ink stone would work with a borax cone? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inkstone
Love the idea of using an ink stone, especially the more decorative ones lol. Thank you for the idea, I’ll look into those as well!
I have one that I keep in an unglazed flower pot saucer. Works well.
I use cone borax almost exclusively—have been doing so for almost 40 years…:-)… The best dish is simply a little square or circle of sandblasted glass. I’ve also used a broken piece of ceramic tile, and a piece of marble. You can usually get these as scraps in places that sell these materials. They usually have little pieces that have been cut out or broken off which they have no use for.
I often use Boric acid and alcohol as a flux and Borax and water as a dip for surface protection. I keep them in suspension in a jar or a covered dish. Is there something special about Borax cones that I am yet to experience?
are you supposed to soak the dish in water before putting into use the first time?
I tried soaking the dish overnight but since I am not in my studio using it every day, it dried again out in between. Thanks to all for the suggestions for other objects to use. I’ve found what works for my needs but others may find the suggestions useful too.
Put some sort of lid on it when you are done for the day. Take it off when you need to use it again. Add water as needed and get on with what you are doing…Rob
As a borax dish our Jewellers use an oyster or a vongole shell as a dish,
I believe that you may have mis-spoke.
Boric acid and alcohol is a barrier flux.
Your borax and water is a flow flux.
Fifty years ago I got my first borax cone and dish. I still have it somewhere.
The dish soaked up water greedily but I just put a piece of plastic under it so that it didm’t wet my bench-top. After a week or so the buildup of borax in the dish rendered it waterproof.
Borax is only very slightly soluble in water so the grinding and wetting and drying built up a really thick coat of borax on the dish.
The message is that like a new pair of shoes you just need to give the setup a little time - and yes, you can use a ceramic flowerpot tray.
Both methods work as a flux. Both will barrier coat. Alcohol better than water. But alcohol is a bomb in the bench were as I can leave the borax and water open. I can dip a piece when I get it straw colored, let it dry, and proceed from there. Often with batterns or Boric and alcohol. It may be an unnecessary step but it works in my process. I got from an old shop manual.
Well, I can see now that the sandblasted glass has a lot of advantages… One of the things I like best about cone borax is that you’re making it fresh every time you use it, so it’s always clean and uncontaminated. I don’t allow any buildup of dirty, old borax. Since the plate is glass, it cleans up real easily under running tap water with a brass or steel brush. And since the surface is sandblasted, it gives it just enough texture to ‘grind’ the base of the cone. After hearing about the problems with other materials used for the plate, it seems that this is really a good–and cheap!-- solution.
Janet in Jerusalem
I have used borax and alcohol as a barrier flux but I have not ever used borax and water as a flux for soldering…is there any difference in a borax cone and powdered borax? I have a huge box of borax which I use for cleaning counters, adding to laundry, sprinkling into metal before casting, etc. Could I use that powder and mix with water to create a paste and use that for a soldering flux or would that be the same thing as the cone?..thanks in advance for any any advice…
I tried using the borax I bought from Rio that I use for coating crucibles and to sprinkle on molten metal to clean it. It was OK but more of a grainy texture than the borax cone paste. My guess is that the borax cone is made from a super fine grind borax which makes for a lovely smooth paste flux that stays just where you put it during firing. I like having the control of how liquid the flux is by making it fresh every time with the cone and water. In some areas you might want a thicker paste and in other areas a more liquid paste to flow into tight spaces.
Maybe you just have to run the borax in a box through a mortar and pestle. I don’t know, but will try it myself and post the results…Rob