1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Flux
FLUX (Lat. fluxus, a flowing; this being also the meaning of the English term in medicine, &c.), in metallurgy, a substance introduced in the smelting of ores to promote fluidity, and to remove objectionable impurities in the form of a slag. The substances in commonest use are:—lime or limestone, to slag off silica and silicates, fluor-spar for lead, calcium and barium sulphates and calcium phosphate, and silica for removing basic substances such as limestone. Other substances are also used, but more commonly in assaying than in metallurgy. Sodium and potassium carbonates are valuable for fluxing off silica; mixed with potassium nitrate sodium carbonate forms a valuable oxidizing fusion mixture; “black flux” is a reducing flux composed of finely divided carbon and potassium carbonate, and formed by deflagrating a mixture of argol with 1 to 1 its weight of nitre. Borax is very frequently employed; it melts to a clear liquid and dissolves silica and many metallic oxides. Potassium bisulphate is useful in the preliminary treatment of refractory aluminous ores. Litharge and red lead are used in silver and gold assays, acting as solvents for silica and any metallic oxides present.