Table of Contents » Chapter 5 : Studio » Chapter 5 : Chemicals & The Environment

Chapter 5 : Chemicals & The Environment

As artisans/craftsmen and small businesses, disposal of materials is our own responsibility. There is information about chemical disposal on the Environmental Protection Agency web page. In addition, there is information about workers’ safety and health on the Occupation Safety Health and Administration.

Glazes Safety: It is important to deal with your glaze chemicals in a safe manner – both in and outside of your glazes. There is a great website called Digital Fire, and they have a section of glazes leaching during use – very helpful information. This is also covered in the Mastering Cone 6 Glazes book by John Hesselberth & Ron Roy.

Louis Katz is knowledgeable about glaze chemicals, and has information on his website:

Here’s a interesting idea: Lets have a discussion: Sustainability and the ceramics studio by Kristin Schimik, June 20, 2010, Ceramics Arts Daily

The Arts & Creative Materials Institute, Inc (ACMI)
ACMI is a nonprofit, international association of over 220 companies which produce art, craft and other creative materials. Recognized as the leading authority on art and craft materials, the Institute was formed in 1936 to assist members in providing children and adult artists with non-toxic, high quality products. ACMI member companies produce a broad array of creative materials that have been certified as meeting government toxicity standards and industry performance criteria.

Material Safety Date Sheets (MSDS)A material safety data sheet (MSDS), safety data sheet (SDS),[1] or product safety data sheet (PSDS) is an important component of product stewardship and occupational safety and health. It is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, and includes information such as physical data , toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill-handling procedures.

Material Safety Date Sheets are available for free at MSDS Solutions: and are available on line (free trail or a charge) at:

The MSDS sheets are difficult to understand, this is a link that helps you understand what they are saying: How to read and MSDS

According to Alfred University‘s web site the proper disposal of materials is as follows:

Disposal of Materials

Any container designated with a yellow hazard sticker [which means it contains any amount of the “dirty nineteen” listed below] must be completely emptied in the hazardous waste drums closest to where the waste is generated (paper towels used to clean the container should also go in here). The emptied container may then be rinsed and reused.

For containers of non-hazardous waste, first decant any excess water from the top of the container and pour down the sink. The container must be scraped and emptied into the garbage can and then be rinsed clean in the sink. Do not empty non-hazardous materials into the hazardous waste drum, as the drums are very expensive to dispose of.

While these directions are obviously for a larger studio setting with hazardous stickers and waste drums, the information about proper disposal provides good guidelines for the rest to follow.

Be Gentle To Your Environment

It is ultimately your responsibility to the environment to use and dispose of chemicals in a proper and gentle way. Please research in your area how you can dispose of the most harmful chemicals in the best manner possible. This may mean, that the biannual household hazardous waste collection will take away your chemicals, or that a nearby university will allow you to add your small amount of waste to their collection. Paying a company to come to your studio to pick up the hazardous waste may be a little pricy so finding an inexpensive alternative is a reasonable and responsible thing to do.

To begin the process of learning about disposal options, contact your county dumps and ask about household waste.

In Monroe County, as a small business producing less than 250lb of hazardous waste a year, they have an exemption allowing free disposal of your waste at their facility. Look into options in your area.

The Dirty Nineteen

The following chemicals should not end up down the drain or in the landfill. They should be disposed of by a hazardous waste management group of one kind or another.

  1. Albany Slip Substitute (Lead Compound)
  2. Barium Carbonate
  3. Cadmium Pigments
  4. Chromium Oxide
  5. Copper Oxide
  6. Light Rutile (Chromium Oxide)
  7. Dark Rutile (Chromium Oxide)
  8. Granular Rutile (Chromium Oxide)
  9. Frit #3403 (Lead Compound)
  10. Frit #3626 (Lead Compound)
  11. Frit #3304 (Lead Compound)
  12. Black Iron Oxide (Arsenic/Nickel)
  13. Lead Chromate
  14. Nickel Carbonate
  15. Black Nickel Oxide
  16. Strontium Carbonate (Barium Carbonate)
  17. Zinc Oxide (Lead, Cadmium)
  18. Frit #VO6129 (Lead-Cadmium Compound)
  19. Iron Chromate (Chrome Ore)

Please be responsible in your disposal of these chemicals.

[1] From: