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What is the Difference Between a Glass Kiln and a Ceramic Kiln?

When it comes to creating beautiful and functional pieces of art, both glass and ceramic artists rely on the use of kilns.

These specialized ovens allow for the firing and shaping of materials such as glass and pottery, transforming them from raw materials into stunning works of art.

However, not all kilns are created equal. There are specific differences between a glass kiln and a ceramic kiln that make each one uniquely suited for its intended purpose.

woman making pottery


What is a Ceramic Kiln and what is a Glass Kiln?

Ceramic Kilns

A ceramic kiln is designed to heat up to high temperatures, allowing the potter to fire their clay creations. The process involves several steps, starting with the greenware, which is the term for the unfired clay. The greenware is loaded into the kiln and heated slowly to remove any moisture and volatile compounds.

Once this initial firing is complete, the kiln is then brought to a higher temperature for the glaze firing. The glaze is applied to the now bisque-fired pottery, and the kiln is fired again, allowing the glaze to melt and form a beautiful, glossy finish.

Ceramic kilns come in various sizes and designs, with different heating elements and control mechanisms. Most modern kilns use electric heating elements, while others rely on gas or wood-fired heating methods.


Glass Kilns

Glass kilns are essential tools for glass making - to transform creative visions into stunning works of art or practical pieces.

At its core, a glass kiln is a specialized oven that reaches high temperatures, typically above 1400°F (760°C), to melt glass and shape it into various forms. The kiln is made up of a chamber with heating elements and controls that allow artists to manipulate the temperature and duration of the firing process.

Glass kilns come in different sizes and shapes to accommodate various projects and techniques. Some kilns are small and portable, while others are larger and stationary.


Glass Kiln vs Ceramic Kiln

Glass kilns and ceramic kilns may both be kilns, but they serve different purposes and have distinct differences. The main distinction lies in the way they handle heat.

Glass kilns are designed to heat and cool quickly, whereas ceramic kilns are built to withstand high temperatures for longer periods of time.

Glass kilns typically have a faster firing and cooling time compared to ceramic kilns. This is because glass requires rapid heating and cooling to avoid cracking or shattering.

Ceramic kilns, on the other hand, have a slower firing and cooling process to ensure that the pottery is evenly heated and cooled, reducing the risk of warping or breaking.

Another difference is in the kiln furniture, which is the material used to support the pieces being fired. Glass kilns typically use kiln shelves made of ceramic fiber or refractory materials, while ceramic kilns use traditional kiln furniture made of sturdier materials like firebrick or kiln shelves made of cordierite.

Lastly, the temperature ranges for glass kilns and ceramic kilns differ. Glass kilns usually reach temperatures between 1,500 to 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit, while ceramic kilns can go up to higher temperatures, typically around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can you use a glass kiln for pottery? Unfortunately not for most pieces, for the simple reason that it just doesn’t get hot enough. If you’re firing a simple bisque, then it might be possible but for finished pieces it’s not achievable.

man making pottery


Choosing the Right Kiln for Your Needs

Choosing the right kiln for your needs is an important decision that can greatly impact your artistic process.

Whether you are a glass artist or a pottery artist, selecting the appropriate kiln is crucial to achieving the desired results. When it comes to glass kilns and ceramic kilns, there are specific considerations to keep in mind.

For glass artists, a glass kiln is essential. These kilns are specifically designed to handle the unique properties of glass, such as its need for rapid heating and cooling. If you primarily work with glass, investing in a glass kiln is the way to go.

On the other hand, if your main focus is pottery, a ceramic kiln is a must-have. These kilns are built to withstand high temperatures and provide the slow, even heat distribution that pottery requires.

Ultimately, choosing the right kiln comes down to understanding the specific requirements of your medium and considering the size and type of projects you work on.

Taking the time to research and invest in the appropriate kiln will save time and money in the long term.

If you would like some advice, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can also view our range of glass and ceramic kilns here. Do you want to dip your toes into both glass and ceramic arts? We also have a range of dual media kilns suitable for both purposes.

Further Reading: What Can a Kiln Be Used For? Pottery and Alternative Uses.