What is the difference between a gas kiln and an electric kiln?
I have been asked this many times by my students so I decided to write out this article so if you are wondering the same thing read on!
What Is A Gas Kiln
Gas kilns are the most widely used type of fuel fired kiln. Gas kilns offer the ability to control the atmosphere of your firing environment which directly impacts the quality of your fired pieces. The atmosphere effects both the way your glaze turns out as well as your clay bodies.
A gas fueled kiln is very popular with modern ceramics artists. Gas kilns do not require stoking to maintain temperature. They also do not create ash as a byproduct of running them.
The majority of modern gas fueled kilns utilize propane or natural gas making them fairly economical to use. There are other fuels used such as methane but these are not as widely used.
Gas fueled kilns can achieve very high temperatures. This makes them the go to style when firing porcelain and stoneware.
What Is An Electric Kiln
An electric kiln utilized an electrical current to produce firing temperatures. Electric kilns are designed with brick that is insulated for withstanding and controlling the extremely high temperatures needed for firing. Along the inner walls of the kiln are coils made of an alloy that is capable of producing the high heat. Electric kilns are capable of producing very consistent temperatures.
There are electric models that allow you to fire them manually and others offer controls for firing. Kilns with controls make it possible to lower or raise temperatures as you go.
Electric kilns are designed for firing at low and mid temperatures. They are able to handle earthenware but are not suit for high firing temps such as needed for porcelain and stoneware.
Electric kilns are very popular though for their safety, relative low cost and ability to be used in the home or classroom. They are relatively easy to operate and offer the ability to fire a wide range of colors.
For more ceramics tips and guides check out these articles