For years I've sworn by Foster Fire bead release but it's been harder and harder to get in the UK and getting it sent from America can be pretty expensive. A couple of months back I desperately needed some bead release and the UK place I usually get my Foster Fire didn't have any so I ended up getting a bag of Dip & Fire 'Tuffy'.
Unlike a lot of bead releases, you buy this as a 200g bag of powder as opposed to a bottled liquid. This makes it lighter and cheaper to post. You then mix the powder with water and ta-dah! you've got bead release.
When I got my first lot of Tuffy I stuck to the instructions (because I'm a 'stick to the recipe first and then go off road next time' kind of person) and added the full 170ml of water which was fine but I do like my bead release to be a bit thick. It soon thickened up after a week or so, but I mixed the second lot that I've just got with 150ml of water and the release is just right for me.
I tipped my Tuffy powder into a big empty pickled red cabbage jar (I love pickled red cabbage, especially with salad cream) and added the 150ml of cold water. I put the lid on and went full-on Tom Cruise in Cocktail and shaky-shaky-shook it until it was mixed. I then poured, and scraped out with an old spatula, the mixed bead release into a smaller glass jar. This one is about the size of an apple or cranberry sauce jar and it's filled to the top.
Then of course I set about dipping my mandrels. Such a tedious job. As you can see in this GIF, I do four at a time to speed up the time-eating process of it all.
As for the bead release's performance - it's great. The Tuffy release gives a nice smooth mandrel coating. I've been using Tuffy for a couple of months now and in that time I've done hollow vessels, sculptural flowers, and some pretty time-intensive beads like implosions and encased 'Scales' beads. All of those can put stress on the bead release but it's not cracked or flaked on the mandrel unless I've done something daft like knocked it hard with a brass tool or over-mashed and actually pulled the glass. That's bad beadmaking, not bad bead release.
It also cleans out of the beads really well. I use a Dremel for cleaning my beads. Tuffy contains no free crystalline silica which means it doesn't have the same silicosis-related health hazards as other bead releases. Bonus!
Tuffnell Glass sell Dip & Fire 'Tuffy' bead release and it's priced at £8.00 per 200g bag.