Oxidation resistance and water wettability of graphite flakes have been improved by a thin sol-gel film of magnesium aluminate spinel (MgAl 2O4) over its surface. The hydrosol has been synthesized by less expensive precursors and the spinel formation has been studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), supplemented with energy dispersive spectral analysis. After an easy-to-use mixing procedure, drying (110°C), and subsequent calcination (550°C), coated graphites were sieved to below 75 μm. The coating over the powder contained 1.5 wt% MgAl2O 4, which enormously increased the oxidation resistance (performed at 600°, 900°, and 1200°C) and water wettability, as revealed by hydrophilic functional groups from infrared spectra. Defective, intermediate spinel structure of fine, lamellar Mg-doped γ-Al2O3 has been considered to be significant for this improvement. An approximate (1:2) stoichiometry of (Mg:Al) in the coting composition was confirmed by an X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy test. Castables prepared by this graphite remarkably improved their bulk density and apparent porosity compared with those prepared by the as-received graphite. Casting water was reduced along with the amount of antioxidants. This also enhanced the resistance toward the basic slag by retaining the graphite in the refractory. © 2009 The American Ceramic Society.