What is Seger cone test?

Understanding the Seger Cone Test: A Critical Tool for Ceramic Analysis

The Seger cone test is an indispensable tool in the field of ceramics for determining the approximate melting temperatures of ceramic materials. Named after the German chemist Hermann Seger, who developed the concept in the late 19th century, the Seger cone test provides valuable insight into the behavior of ceramic materials during firing. By observing the deformation and bending of specially designed pyrometric cones, ceramists and researchers can evaluate the suitability of materials for specific applications and optimize firing conditions.

The Principles of the Seger Cone Test

The Seger cone test is based on the principle that ceramic materials undergo physical and chemical changes when heated. The pyrometric cones used in the test are composed of carefully formulated mixtures of ceramic materials with known melting points. These cones are designed to deform and bend when exposed to specific temperature ranges, providing a visual indication of the approximate temperature at which a given cone will begin to soften and eventually melt.
Each Seger cone is labeled with a numerical value, known as its cone number, which corresponds to its melt temperature. For example, a cone labeled “Cone 06” would have a lower temperature range than a cone labeled “Cone 10”. The higher the cone number, the higher the temperature required to achieve deformation and fusion.

Performing the Seger Cone Test

To perform the Seger cone test, a series of cones with different cone numbers are placed in a kiln with the ceramic materials to be tested. The furnace is then fired gradually, allowing the temperature to rise over a period of time. As the furnace reaches the melting point of each cone, the cones begin to deform and bend.

Observing the deformation of the cones is a critical step in the process. Ceramists watch the kiln closely and note the cone number corresponding to the first cone to show signs of deformation. This cone number indicates the approximate temperature reached in the kiln at that moment. By tracking the deformation of multiple cones, a temperature profile can be created that provides valuable information about the firing characteristics of the ceramic materials being tested.

Applications of the Seger Cone Test

The Seger cone test is used in several areas of ceramic research and production. One of its primary applications is in the selection and optimization of glazes. Glazes, which are vitreous coatings applied to ceramics, must be fired within specific temperature ranges to achieve desired visual and functional properties. By using the Seger Cone Test, ceramists can determine the appropriate cone number at which a particular glaze reaches its optimum melting and bonding point.

In addition, the Seger Cone Test assists in the formulation and development of new ceramic materials. By analyzing the behavior of different compositions under different firing conditions, researchers can fine-tune ceramic properties such as strength, porosity, and color. This information is invaluable in industries ranging from pottery and tableware to advanced ceramics used in aerospace and electronics.

Advancements in Seger Cone Testing

Over the years, advances have been made to improve the accuracy and convenience of the Seger cone test. One notable development is the introduction of self-supporting cones, which eliminate the need for additional support structures during testing. These cones are designed to stand upright without external support, simplifying the testing process and providing more reliable results.

In addition, digital pyrometric cones and automated monitoring systems have been introduced to provide real-time temperature tracking and data logging during firing. This automation improves the accuracy and efficiency of the Seger cone test, allowing for more controlled and repeatable experiments.


The Seger cone test remains an indispensable tool in the field of ceramics, providing valuable insight into the behavior of ceramic materials during firing. By analyzing the deformation and bending of pyrometric cones, ceramists and researchers can determine approximate melting temperatures and optimize firing conditions for various applications. The Seger cone test continues to evolve as technology advances, enabling more accurate and efficient analysis of ceramic materials and contributing to the advancement of the ceramics industry as a whole.


What is Seger cone test?

The Seger cone test is a standard method used in ceramics to determine the temperature at which a clay or ceramic material will begin to soften and deform under heat. It is named after the German ceramic chemist Hermann Seger, who developed the test in the late 19th century.

How does the Seger cone test work?

The Seger cone test involves heating a series of pyrometric cones made from different clay compositions and measuring their deformation. The cones are typically shaped like triangles or pyramids and are made from mixtures of clay and other materials. They are designed to melt and bend at specific temperatures.

What are pyrometric cones?

Pyrometric cones are small, ceramic objects that are used to measure and monitor heatwork in kilns and furnaces. The cones are made from carefully formulated mixtures of clay, fluxes, and other materials, which allow them to soften and bend at specific temperatures. They are often used in conjunction with the Seger cone test to determine the firing temperature and heatwork in ceramic processes.

What is the purpose of the Seger cone test?

The Seger cone test is used to determine the heat resistance and heatwork characteristics of clay and ceramic materials. It helps ceramists and potters to identify the proper firing temperature for their materials, ensuring that the clay or ceramic reaches the desired level of vitrification and strength without over-firing or under-firing.

What are the results of the Seger cone test used for?

The results of the Seger cone test provide valuable information about the heatwork and firing characteristics of clay and ceramic materials. They help potters and ceramists in setting appropriate firing schedules and determining the ideal temperature ranges for their specific materials. This ensures optimal results in terms of strength, color, and texture of the fired ceramics.

Are there different types of Seger cones?

Yes, there are different types of Seger cones, each designed to bend at a specific temperature range. The cones are classified by numbers and are labeled with a corresponding temperature range in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit. For example, Cone 06 bends at a lower temperature than Cone 10. The specific type of cone used depends on the desired firing temperature and the characteristics of the clay or ceramic being tested.