How To Use A Kiln Safely At Home

ceramics in kiln

Can I have a kiln in my house?

The answer is yes!

I get asked this question by my ceramics students all the time and if you are wondering the same thing then you will learn how to safely use a home kiln from this article.

Tips For Using A Kiln At Home

Because kilns utilize high temperatures and releases some potentially toxic fumes into the air it is absolutely required that you understand how to use a kiln safely. So simply follow the following home kiln use tips and you will be ready to go!

Use Personal Protective Equipment

A well made and maintained kiln will come with appropriate insulation but the outside of your kiln can still become dangerously hot. Burns can happen if the outside of a kiln is touched while firing. Because of this it is important to use proper safety gear when firing a kiln at home. Here is what you need to use.

  • Kiln gloves or mitts must be worn everytime you are working with a hot kiln. When the kiln is running the only parts not potentially hot are the controls, if touching anything else always wear kiln mitts. Even when you are done using your kiln it will remain hot for numerous hours so be careful.
  • Wear dark glasses anytime you must look inside a hot kiln. Most kilns will have spy holes for you to monitor your firing, wearing dark glasses will protect your eyes from getting burned and allow you to more clearly see how your cone packs are doing. Do not use regular sunglasses as they may melt from the heat of your kiln.
large kiln with ceramics in it

Ensure Proper Kiln Ventilation

All home kilns must be properly ventilated no matter where they are setup. Most people will set their kiln up outside but indoor installation is possible if proper ventilation to the outside is installed. For in home placement a HVAC professional must complete ventilation installation.

Do not try to do this yourself unless you are a professional. It takes expert knowledge as well as equipment to properly install and test that all toxic fumes are not released into the home. When properly set up the hood draw will extinguish a lit match.

When operating your kiln be certain to always start your hood vent before loading your kiln. This will prevent glaze dust from contaminating your living space.

Prevent Gas Inhalation

When you are firing your kiln toxic gases are produced. If these gases are inhaled serious respiratory issues can arise. Multiple toxic gases are produced when firing a kiln including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur.

Carbon dioxide is produced when fuel is burned in your kiln. Inhaling too much can lead to rising blood pressure as well as decreased blood oxygen levels and a decreased pulse rate.

Carbon monoxide is released during the reduction firing phase. Breathing in carbon monoxide from a home kiln can lead to numerous symptoms including dizziness, nauseous, headaches and even death.

Sulfur dioxide is a toxic gas when metal salts are fired in your kiln. Exposure can lead to lung issues.

fired kiln

Fuel Fired Kiln Use At Home

Firing a kiln should not be done by a beginner without the assistance of an experienced individual. If you have never operated a kiln before you must learn how properly before trying at home. Join a class or find someone in your community who is able to show you the ropes first.

Kilns must be attended to while they are warming up. This is until the flashpoint of the fuel has been attained. The flashpoint is the temperature that your fuel ignites. Because there are a number of different kilns out there, be sure to understand your kilns particular operation steps prior to using it for the first time.

Electric Kiln Use At Home

When using an electric kiln at home always be certain that it is installed by a professional electrician. This will ensure that your kiln is being powered within the manufacturers safety guidelines. It is also generally required by most home insurance policies that an electric kiln is installed by a certified electrician.

Prior to your first use always be sure to understand the manufacturers operation guidelines. Most people will find using an electric kiln simpler than a fuel fired kiln.

Home Kiln Use Quick Tips

  • Never operate a kiln in or near standing water
  • Never open your kiln lid when it is firing
  • Never leave children near an operating kiln
  • Always let a kiln completely cool down before touching any items. The outside of your kiln must be cool to the touch.
  • Nothing should be touching your kiln. Always keep at least one foot of separation between your kiln and any other items.
  • Never unplug your kiln unless it has been turned off.
  • Always check that all switches are set to off before loading your kiln.
  • Never attempt repairs when your kiln is plugged in

For more guides and tips read these articles