glass fusing suppliesSafety Tips For Glass Kilns

By Alice Lane | Submitted On August 27, 2009

There are tens of thousands of glass kilns which are being used safely in schools, homes, and professional studios worldwide. By taking the time to understand your kiln and applying common sense, you can avoid problems and make your glass crafts safe and enjoyable. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

It is wise to be certain that pets and small children are kept away from the kiln area when it is firing. The stainless-steel jacket and other fixtures on the kiln will heat up enough to burn the skin when the kiln is firing, therefore care should be taken when working near the kiln. Protective gloves should be worn when opening the kiln door while the kiln is hot, since escaping hot air from the kiln chamber can burn. Never put metal instruments into a kiln when it is firing and be careful of touching elements inside the kiln since they can cause electrical shock if they are touched. Baffles in many kiln models protect the kiln operator from shock when mandrels are inserted; therefore do not insert mandrels into the kiln if the baffles have been removed. Always unplug the kiln before touching the kiln's electrical components.

The kiln should be installed in a well-ventilated and sheltered area such as a garage, carport, hobby or utility room, and flammable pottery supply or other flammable materials should not be stored in the same room. The kiln should be placed at least eighteen inches from adjacent walls or other kilns, and the kiln controller should be faced away from any other kilns nearby. If the room has a fire-control sprinkler system, then the sprinkler head rating must be checked to ensure that the heat vented by the kiln will not activate the system. The kiln should not be located in an enclosed space, nor in a room in which the temperature can exceed 105°F or drop below 32°F, which can damage the kiln's electronic components. The kiln must rest on a non-combustible surface such as concrete, ceramic, metal, or brick. All possibly combustible materials should be removed from the kiln area when it is firing. The operator should be with the kiln when it is set to switch off. Viewing inside a kiln can damage the eyes, so the operator should use UV and IR protective goggles, such as number three welders' gray or green glasses, when viewing inside the kiln for long periods of time. Before firing, remove chips of brick or any other foreign matter from the area around the elements (this can be done by vacuuming inside the kiln, which will also remove dust). Apply a primer such as Kiln Shelf Wash to the kiln's floor and shelves so that melted glass stringers, chunks, or frits will not adhere to them. Note that you must never wash the lid or walls of a glass kiln. Also note that the first time the kiln is fired the elements will smoke (this is normal); and it is also normal for the floor of the kiln to show hairline cracks due to expansion and contraction of the firebrick. This will not affect the kiln's firing or the life of the floor of the kiln.

By following simple safety tips for glass kilns you can make your glass crafts safe and fun. For further information on glass and pottery supply such as glass stringers, noodles, and frits, check with AMACO - the world's leading glass and ceramic supplier.

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