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Alum precipitate

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  • John Ang
    Hi members, I did a watercolour marbling session recently. The alum (aluminium sulphate, 1 tablespoon to 1 cup of water. Bring to boil before adding the alum)
    Message 1 of 12 , Aug 29, 2008
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      Hi members,

      I did a watercolour marbling session recently. The alum (aluminium
      sulphate, 1 tablespoon to 1 cup of water. Bring to boil before adding
      the alum) after it has cooled has white precipitate settled at the
      bottom. I used the alum without the precipitate and did a successful
      marbling session.

      I like to ask the group what is this white precipitate ? Was it because
      I used too much alum that caused the precipitation?

      Regards,
      John Ang
    • David Graham
      Best guess? It was alum unable to remain in soultion after cooling because you had produced a supersaturated solution. A Tablespoon per cup? A bit strong.
      Message 2 of 12 , Aug 30, 2008
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        Best guess? It was alum unable to remain in soultion after cooling
        because you had produced a supersaturated solution.

        A Tablespoon per cup? A bit strong. I'd suggest a teaspoon per quart
        or liter...'taint rocke science, after all....

        Dave in the Couteau of East River, SD

        On 8/29/08, John Ang <angchengsiew@...> wrote:
        > Hi members,
        >
        > I did a watercolour marbling session recently. The alum (aluminium
        > sulphate, 1 tablespoon to 1 cup of water. Bring to boil before adding
        > the alum) after it has cooled has white precipitate settled at the
        > bottom. I used the alum without the precipitate and did a successful
        > marbling session.
        >
        > I like to ask the group what is this white precipitate ? Was it because
        > I used too much alum that caused the precipitation?
        >
        > Regards,
        > John Ang
        >
        >


        --
        "As the ox hath his bow, sir, the horse his curb, and the falcon her
        bells, so man hath his desires... "

        Wm. Shakespeare
        As You Like it ActIII, Scene 3
      • irisnevins
        I d suggest that the amount of alum needed differs from one place to the next, one water chemistry to the next, and one season to the next. Also if you marble
        Message 3 of 12 , Aug 30, 2008
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          I'd suggest that the amount of alum needed differs from one place to the next, one water chemistry to the next, and one season to the next. Also if you marble damp or dry will make a difference.

          Yes, David is right, it does sound like you oversaturated the solution, but that tablespoon per cup, I need that measure, especially in hot weather. I marble dry paper that has been alumed, but in winter I can get away with less alum per cup. Just experiment and see what is the minimal amount you need for how and where you work.

          The good news is your alum should work! It's awful when it doesn't!

          Iris Nevins
          www.marblingpaper.com<http://www.marblingpaper.com/>
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: David Graham<mailto:uuglypher@...>
          To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2008 1:09 PM
          Subject: Re: [Marbling] Alum precipitate


          Best guess? It was alum unable to remain in soultion after cooling
          because you had produced a supersaturated solution.

          A Tablespoon per cup? A bit strong. I'd suggest a teaspoon per quart
          or liter...'taint rocke science, after all....

          Dave in the Couteau of East River, SD

          On 8/29/08, John Ang <angchengsiew@...<mailto:angchengsiew@...>> wrote:
          > Hi members,
          >
          > I did a watercolour marbling session recently. The alum (aluminium
          > sulphate, 1 tablespoon to 1 cup of water. Bring to boil before adding
          > the alum) after it has cooled has white precipitate settled at the
          > bottom. I used the alum without the precipitate and did a successful
          > marbling session.
          >
          > I like to ask the group what is this white precipitate ? Was it because
          > I used too much alum that caused the precipitation?
          >
          > Regards,
          > John Ang
          >
          >


          --
          "As the ox hath his bow, sir, the horse his curb, and the falcon her
          bells, so man hath his desires... "

          Wm. Shakespeare
          As You Like it ActIII, Scene 3

          ------------------------------------

          Yahoo! Groups Links





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Sue Cole
          did you use distilled water? If not, it was possibly the alum reacting with something in the water, which settled out to the bottom. HTH Sue
          Message 4 of 12 , Aug 30, 2008
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            did you use distilled water? If not, it was possibly the alum reacting with something in
            the water, which settled out to the bottom.
            HTH
            Sue
          • irisnevins
            I don t think the distilled water would make much difference. I have never used it for any part of the marbling process, have extremely hard water, never had
            Message 5 of 12 , Aug 30, 2008
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              I don't think the distilled water would make much difference. I have never used it for any part of the marbling process, have extremely hard water, never had any problem. the only real problem I ever had with water was when used with water from a water softener. hard water seems to call for a bit more carrageenan powder to get the same viscosity as with soft. Never had alum problems though, unless I oversaturated the solution by accident.

              I'd simply try a few different test jars with different amounts of alum and see what happens, what is the least that will make things work etc. Sometimes too much alum can also leave white streaks, especially on colored papers. It can also make the paper look a bit sparkly in the sun if you are one who does not rinse papers, fairy dust, some have called it!

              Iris Nevins
              www.marblingpaper.com<http://www.marblingpaper.com/>

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Sue Cole<mailto:akartisan@...>
              To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2008 3:19 PM
              Subject: [Marbling] Re:Alum precipitate


              did you use distilled water? If not, it was possibly the alum reacting with something in
              the water, which settled out to the bottom.
              HTH
              Sue

              ------------------------------------

              Yahoo! Groups Links





              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Marmolados.com.ar
              Hi! I´m from Argentina, and relatively new to the group. I think like others, that´s its a problem of oversaturated solution, but sometimes I had this
              Message 6 of 12 , Aug 31, 2008
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                Hi! I´m from Argentina, and relatively new to the group.
                I think like others, that´s its a problem of oversaturated solution, but sometimes I had this problem, of oversaturated too much the solution of alum (I do it a bit, it´s give me better results), but this carries the problem, at least if you use an direct extract of the algae-lichen like me. Moreover the problems forementioned for irisnevins, that I´m agree, if you load to much the paper with alum, the carrageen turn sometimes a bit messy and thick becouse its reacts in some way with the medium after make to much papers in it... I solved it sometimes with a small aumont of a solution of borax (it´s an complexing agent or inhibitor in this way) although its not recomendable, maybe can save you the day if you are hurry... Before this you can make a new one carrageen.
                I hope this helps for someone, and complete the thought of find a balance for each need, that i´m totaly agree.

                Best Regards.
                David Maisterra

                P.D.: I leave you a link of my web page, I expect like. www.marmolados.com.ar.


                ----- Original Message -----
                From: irisnevins
                To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2008 9:30 PM
                Subject: Re: [Marbling] Re:Alum precipitate


                I don't think the distilled water would make much difference. I have never used it for any part of the marbling process, have extremely hard water, never had any problem. the only real problem I ever had with water was when used with water from a water softener. hard water seems to call for a bit more carrageenan powder to get the same viscosity as with soft. Never had alum problems though, unless I oversaturated the solution by accident.

                I'd simply try a few different test jars with different amounts of alum and see what happens, what is the least that will make things work etc. Sometimes too much alum can also leave white streaks, especially on colored papers. It can also make the paper look a bit sparkly in the sun if you are one who does not rinse papers, fairy dust, some have called it!

                Iris Nevins
                www.marblingpaper.com<http://www.marblingpaper.com/>

                ----- Original Message -----
                From: Sue Cole<mailto:akartisan@...>
                To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2008 3:19 PM
                Subject: [Marbling] Re:Alum precipitate

                did you use distilled water? If not, it was possibly the alum reacting with something in
                the water, which settled out to the bottom.
                HTH
                Sue

                ------------------------------------

                Yahoo! Groups Links

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • John Ang
                I use water straight from the tap. Maybe its the flouride in it or something. I read on wikipedia ( , look under
                Message 7 of 12 , Aug 31, 2008
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                  I use water straight from the tap. Maybe its the flouride in it or
                  something. I read on wikipedia
                  (<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_sulfate>, look under uses)
                  that alum is frequently used as flocculating agent in the purification
                  of drinking water by causing impurities to coagulate which are removed
                  as the particulate settles to the bottom of the container or more
                  easily filtered.

                  I too suspect that I have over saturated the alum solution.

                  John Ang

                  > did you use distilled water? If not, it was possibly the alum
                  reacting with something in
                  > the water, which settled out to the bottom.
                  > HTH
                  > Sue
                  >
                • Jake Benson
                  Hi John, My two cents- I get a precipitate as well, but I think that my alum is impure. I bought it wholesale in a very large quantity. It is much coarser
                  Message 8 of 12 , Aug 31, 2008
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                    Hi John,

                    My two cents- I get a precipitate as well, but I think that my alum is
                    impure. I bought it wholesale in a very large quantity. It is much
                    coarser and "grayer" if you will, than other kinds sold by marbling
                    suppliers. Usually just let it settle out and then pour the clear
                    solution off the top, no trouble.

                    Iris, I got those crystals too, but it's been a while. At the time, I
                    was living in Ithaca and marbled in a room that I kept quite cool. My
                    theory was that they occurred in solution that I had let stand for a
                    few days. Temperature seemed to have something to do with it, as I
                    seemed to grow larger ones when it was wintertime.

                    Jake Benson
                  • Sue Cole
                    I had said that about distilled water because the marbling books I have say to use distilled water, although I did hear from others about using borax or calgon
                    Message 9 of 12 , Aug 31, 2008
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                      I had said that about distilled water because the marbling books I have say to use
                      distilled water, although I did hear from others about using borax or calgon in the
                      water. I bought a Britta filter so I wouldn't have to keep buying so much distilled
                      water, although my tap water is pretty good by itself.
                      Sue
                    • David Maisterra
                      I have a filter too and it´s work fine for me... but I not really recommend the use of borax in the alum solution (you can in the carrageen if you had a hard
                      Message 10 of 12 , Aug 31, 2008
                      • 0 Attachment
                        I have a filter too and it´s work fine for me... but I not really recommend the use of borax in the alum solution (you can in the carrageen if you had a hard water). The alum it´s used sometimes in water treatment plants like an floculant (sulfate of alum and potassium or sulfate of alum and ammonium) like someone told here... I suggest the best choice if you have a hard water and can´t purify with an adecuate filter its make the alum and wait 1 day or more, then filter that solution with an paper filter like the ones to make cofee (this will eliminates the heavy particules formed in the process) and if you wanted it a little more saturated add alum to taste. Additonaly like an precaution I do this process everytime to filter the impurities of the salt.
                        By the subject of the degradation of the alum with the high temperature, I know that the potassium alum salt not degradates with the heat... but maybe the salt of ammonium it does, possibly in more degree if you use some contaminated water, or the salt its not so pure...

                        David Maisterra
                        http://marmolados.com.ar

                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: Sue Cole
                        To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 3:03 PM
                        Subject: [Marbling] Re:Alum precipitate


                        I had said that about distilled water because the marbling books I have say to use
                        distilled water, although I did hear from others about using borax or calgon in the
                        water. I bought a Britta filter so I wouldn't have to keep buying so much distilled
                        water, although my tap water is pretty good by itself.
                        Sue




                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • irisnevins
                        All I can say, is that no one taught me to marble, therefore no one ever told me I could not work with hard water, and I had horribly hard water, and still do,
                        Message 11 of 12 , Aug 31, 2008
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                          All I can say, is that no one taught me to marble, therefore no one ever told me I could not work with hard water, and I had horribly hard water, and still do, and can't speak for 100% of all cases of hard water everywhere... but it has worked fine for me for 30 years+ of marbling. Somewhere along the line I was told my water should not work, so I used some borax and it made the lines fuzzy and soft and the colors weak, instead of sharp and clear. The only difference I have found in working with hard water is that I need a little more carrageenan to get the same viscosity as with soft water.

                          Actually, when I have for example taught or worked, in a place with soft water, I was fully thrown by the difference, did not like it better and couldn't wait for my rust and lime filled water again. Not trying to be contrary to anyone, just stating my own experience, where I just adapted to my water in several different places the studio has been and places I have traveled to. Sometimes perhaps things can be made a little more complicated than they need to be. Marbling is complicated enough by itself.

                          A little experimentation this way or that with materials may be all that is needed. I know I need less carrageenan in a soft water area, know I need stronger alum in warm weather etc. There are probably many things I do "wrong" yet the results are good. Like working with dry papers, then reading that it was impossible (but oh how I hate to have to alum in the midst of marbling, so this is great that it works). Like making size a few hours before use, even working on it while still warm, and later hearing I must wait closer to 24 hours.... then finding the ideal for me is 12-15 hours. I tried all the other ways, distilled water for example for making size ....which i do use for making paint by the way, so we can always rule out the water if someone has a marbling problem, yet when in my own studio I often water the paints down with plain old hard tap water and see no difference, even in papers kept for decades. It was only after years i started hearing I was marbling the wrong way... so tried other ways, maybe things could be better, and returned to the way I was used to, hard water and all.

                          Sorry to make a short story long, but I'd advise just trying to work with what you have at hand before driving yourself crazy, it may surprise you and work even if it technically shouldn't. The only one thing I ever found would not work, at least with my paints, is size made from water that came from a water softener. It's the same weak fuzzy colors I get from borax. If there is too much alum in solution, try less, or try hotter water, whatever gets the paints on the papers is the right way for you and it may be different for someone else. I have also taught many people to marble using hard water with no trouble, not once was there an unsuccessful class, and if they went home to a different water chemistry and things acted differently, a quick phone call usually sorted out the problems without much troubleshooting.

                          I am tempted to once again try to make size with distilled water, to compare, maybe I am fully missing something, but have done this numerous times before and really saw no difference. I am lazy too and don't want to lug all that water all the time! Still many seem to like it better and some think it necessary, so curiosity is getting to me once again. I suspect, like all the other times, I will go back to the devil I know, good old hard NJ tap water. I do find the size is better made very hot, blended hot and hot water added, not cold, and maybe that is something necessary for working with very hard water. Whatever the reason it works very well, for both alum and size, at least here.

                          Iris Nevins
                          www.marblingpaper.com<http://www.marblingpaper.com/>


                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: David Maisterra<mailto:contacto@...>
                          To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 7:38 PM
                          Subject: Re: [Marbling] Re:Alum precipitate


                          I have a filter too and it´s work fine for me... but I not really recommend the use of borax in the alum solution (you can in the carrageen if you had a hard water). The alum it´s used sometimes in water treatment plants like an floculant (sulfate of alum and potassium or sulfate of alum and ammonium) like someone told here... I suggest the best choice if you have a hard water and can´t purify with an adecuate filter its make the alum and wait 1 day or more, then filter that solution with an paper filter like the ones to make cofee (this will eliminates the heavy particules formed in the process) and if you wanted it a little more saturated add alum to taste. Additonaly like an precaution I do this process everytime to filter the impurities of the salt.
                          By the subject of the degradation of the alum with the high temperature, I know that the potassium alum salt not degradates with the heat... but maybe the salt of ammonium it does, possibly in more degree if you use some contaminated water, or the salt its not so pure...

                          David Maisterra
                          http://marmolados.com.ar<http://marmolados.com.ar/>

                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: Sue Cole
                          To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com>
                          Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 3:03 PM
                          Subject: [Marbling] Re:Alum precipitate


                          I had said that about distilled water because the marbling books I have say to use
                          distilled water, although I did hear from others about using borax or calgon in the
                          water. I bought a Britta filter so I wouldn't have to keep buying so much distilled
                          water, although my tap water is pretty good by itself.
                          Sue




                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


                          ------------------------------------

                          Yahoo! Groups Links





                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • David Maisterra
                          It´s very interesting your experience Iris. I have to aclare that when saying that the use of borax in hard water, really it´s not my experience I learned
                          Message 12 of 12 , Aug 31, 2008
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                            It´s very interesting your experience Iris.
                            I have to aclare that when saying that the use of borax in hard water, really it´s not my experience I learned that from books of marbling, the trial and error take out the best results I´m sure. My tap water is very good, and the filter works mainly to take out the chlorine and others lighter residues.
                            I admire your work, looks gorgeous. And the work that´s behind amazing.
                            Even if I don´t have the same problem, your story is highly valuable for many of us.
                            Sorry if it´s not clear my english... I do it the best I can.

                            David Maisterra
                            http://marmolados.com.ar/



                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: irisnevins
                            To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 10:05 PM
                            Subject: Re: [Marbling] Re:Alum precipitate


                            All I can say, is that no one taught me to marble, therefore no one ever told me I could not work with hard water, and I had horribly hard water, and still do, and can't speak for 100% of all cases of hard water everywhere... but it has worked fine for me for 30 years+ of marbling. Somewhere along the line I was told my water should not work, so I used some borax and it made the lines fuzzy and soft and the colors weak, instead of sharp and clear. The only difference I have found in working with hard water is that I need a little more carrageenan to get the same viscosity as with soft water.

                            Actually, when I have for example taught or worked, in a place with soft water, I was fully thrown by the difference, did not like it better and couldn't wait for my rust and lime filled water again. Not trying to be contrary to anyone, just stating my own experience, where I just adapted to my water in several different places the studio has been and places I have traveled to. Sometimes perhaps things can be made a little more complicated than they need to be. Marbling is complicated enough by itself.

                            A little experimentation this way or that with materials may be all that is needed. I know I need less carrageenan in a soft water area, know I need stronger alum in warm weather etc. There are probably many things I do "wrong" yet the results are good. Like working with dry papers, then reading that it was impossible (but oh how I hate to have to alum in the midst of marbling, so this is great that it works). Like making size a few hours before use, even working on it while still warm, and later hearing I must wait closer to 24 hours.... then finding the ideal for me is 12-15 hours. I tried all the other ways, distilled water for example for making size ....which i do use for making paint by the way, so we can always rule out the water if someone has a marbling problem, yet when in my own studio I often water the paints down with plain old hard tap water and see no difference, even in papers kept for decades. It was only after years i started hearing I was marbling the wrong way... so tried other ways, maybe things could be better, and returned to the way I was used to, hard water and all.

                            Sorry to make a short story long, but I'd advise just trying to work with what you have at hand before driving yourself crazy, it may surprise you and work even if it technically shouldn't. The only one thing I ever found would not work, at least with my paints, is size made from water that came from a water softener. It's the same weak fuzzy colors I get from borax. If there is too much alum in solution, try less, or try hotter water, whatever gets the paints on the papers is the right way for you and it may be different for someone else. I have also taught many people to marble using hard water with no trouble, not once was there an unsuccessful class, and if they went home to a different water chemistry and things acted differently, a quick phone call usually sorted out the problems without much troubleshooting.

                            I am tempted to once again try to make size with distilled water, to compare, maybe I am fully missing something, but have done this numerous times before and really saw no difference. I am lazy too and don't want to lug all that water all the time! Still many seem to like it better and some think it necessary, so curiosity is getting to me once again. I suspect, like all the other times, I will go back to the devil I know, good old hard NJ tap water. I do find the size is better made very hot, blended hot and hot water added, not cold, and maybe that is something necessary for working with very hard water. Whatever the reason it works very well, for both alum and size, at least here.

                            Iris Nevins
                            www.marblingpaper.com<http://www.marblingpaper.com/>

                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: David Maisterra<mailto:contacto@...>
                            To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com>
                            Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 7:38 PM
                            Subject: Re: [Marbling] Re:Alum precipitate

                            I have a filter too and it´s work fine for me... but I not really recommend the use of borax in the alum solution (you can in the carrageen if you had a hard water). The alum it´s used sometimes in water treatment plants like an floculant (sulfate of alum and potassium or sulfate of alum and ammonium) like someone told here... I suggest the best choice if you have a hard water and can´t purify with an adecuate filter its make the alum and wait 1 day or more, then filter that solution with an paper filter like the ones to make cofee (this will eliminates the heavy particules formed in the process) and if you wanted it a little more saturated add alum to taste. Additonaly like an precaution I do this process everytime to filter the impurities of the salt.
                            By the subject of the degradation of the alum with the high temperature, I know that the potassium alum salt not degradates with the heat... but maybe the salt of ammonium it does, possibly in more degree if you use some contaminated water, or the salt its not so pure...

                            David Maisterra
                            http://marmolados.com.ar<http://marmolados.com.ar/>

                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: Sue Cole
                            To: Marbling@yahoogroups.com<mailto:Marbling@yahoogroups.com>
                            Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 3:03 PM
                            Subject: [Marbling] Re:Alum precipitate

                            I had said that about distilled water because the marbling books I have say to use
                            distilled water, although I did hear from others about using borax or calgon in the
                            water. I bought a Britta filter so I wouldn't have to keep buying so much distilled
                            water, although my tap water is pretty good by itself.
                            Sue

                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

                            ------------------------------------

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                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





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