Why Glazed Pottery Takes Ages to Biodegrade
A lot of times, many people have wondered if potteries are biodegradable since they are made from earthly materials. The answer is yes, potteries are biodegradable. It usually takes very long for this to happen, it can even take as long as 1,000,000 (a million) years for a piece glazed pottery to biodegrade. This has left a lot of people wondering why it takes such a long period for it to be degraded.
But in order for us to properly understand why it takes ages for potteries to biodegrade, we have to first understand what glaze pottery is and how they are made.
In the world today, pottery is popularly known as ceramics. Glazed pottery is a piece of pottery which has been subjected to glazing. Glazing is the process of coating pottery items with a vitreous material which makes the layers or surface of the pottery impervious. Glazing pottery items enable them to hold liquid, add colour and decorate the outside surface. Potteries are made from clay and has been used for a vast range of aesthetic products like drinking vessels, jugs, vases and even jewellery.
Pottery making is a very practical activity and these items can take a variety of forms or shapes during and after forming. Many of the products we see frequently like tiles, terracotta and bricks are usually glazed.
After the piece of pottery has been formed with clay, the clay is fired up. During the firing, the silica and other elements melt and changes, the melts becomes viscous and the water particles in it turn into crystals during cooling in the kiln. This is also attributed to the fact that the cooling of the melt is a very slow process. After the pottery has been cooled, the clay becomes dry and stone-like.
Like stone, clay is a chemically decomposed igneous rock, by firing the pottery we turn the clay back to a state similar to original state. Over time it will weather and decompose just as stone does but this usually takes a very long period of time. This is because, in order for the glazed pottery to biodegrade like other earthly material, it has to come in constant contact with elements of decomposition that facilitate degradation like every other rock.
As a result of continuous improvement in its manufacturing technique by glazing these potteries, agents of biodegradation like fungi and yeast find it extremely difficult to penetrate the particles of the potteries. Thus, the biodegradation process of the potteries will end up taking thousands of years to occur as a result.
Finally, human factors place a key role in this process. For instance, rocks and stone are left outside and exposed to nature and all its agent which in turn facilitates biodegradation or decomposition of its particles. But that is not the same case for pottery, as owners of these items, we tend to clean and sometimes polish these potteries. This, in turn, protects them from agents like fungi and increases its shelf-life.