Difference Between a Ceramic and Clay Kiln

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When choosing a kiln, you might wonder if the option of going with ceramic of clay kiln might be better. Well, here we’ll talk about the difference between a ceramic and clay kiln, and which one you should go for based on what you’re trying to fire.

Pottery kilns often vary in different ways, and here, we’ll talk about some of the different factors that you should consider when you’re looking to figure out which one you want.



The Temperature Varies

The temperature on these does vary in different ways. When it comes to each different type of clay, the temperature variations tend to be quite different in each type of kiln.

The variations are as follows:

  • Ceramic kilns tend to get higher to accommodate the porcelain clay
  • The clay kilns tend to handle only low-fire clays, such as earthenware
  • Ceramic kilns handle glazed pottery since you need to fire it higher
  • Clay kilns only do one basic firing, and you can’t get them high or there is a risk of fire with these

Temperature variants are often a big factor when choosing one or the other, and it’s important to consider these when choosing your pottery kiln.



They handle different clays

Each of these handle different clays in their own way as well, since one handles a certain type better than the other. The differences in each are as follows:

  • Ceramic kilns tend to handle the high-fire clays better since you can get these to temperatures upwards of 2000 degrees or more
  • clay kilns tend to be good for earthenware kilns
  • Clay kilns tend to be good for oven-baked and low-firing clay, which can’t handle the higher temperatures due to the fact that they might melt

Having a kiln that handles the clay that you want is dependent on the different types of clay and temperatures that you need to have in order to create the correct type of pottery that you want.


They vary in price


These tend to vary in price as well. When choosing a kiln, you need one that fits your budget, but you should realize that there are a few variants of each of these, and you should know about these.

Some of the price variants include the following:

  • Clay kilns tend to be cheaper
  • Clay kilns tend to not have programmable, exact temperatures
  • Ceramic kilns are better because they handle the right programming for your clay
  • Ceramic kilns also handle higher temperatures and more options
  • Ceramic kilns are also way more expensive due to the fact that they are bigger, and tend to be a sturdy structure you need an exact place for
  • Clay kilns are much more portable than the ceramic kilns

Usually, for the clay kilns, you can get one for as low as a hundred dollars, but ceramic kilns can be up two grand if you want something that really gets the job done and handles all sorts of different factors.



Size may Vary Too

Size changes this up too. With these kilns, there are a few size factors to matter as well.

  • Clay kilns are smaller, therefore they handle fewer loads
  • Ceramic kilns tend to be bigger
  • Ceramic kilns tend to have multiple shelves
  • The clay kilns tend to only have one shelf

The best way to choose the right one for you is to choose the one that fits your pottery load. If you’re a hobbyist, you don’t need something huge, so don’t buy something super huge.



Ceramic Kilns heat from different layers

Ceramic kilns also are based on the layers that they need to handle, whereas with clay kilns it’s a little bit different. With ceramic kilns, there are a few reasons for the multiple layers, and that is the following:

  • Ceramic kilns tend to have multiple layers on the side
  • This will in turn heat from the sides rather than the top
  • Ceramic kilns tend to bring more heat to different levels so that it doesn’t cause cracking and breaking
  • Clay kilns also tend to only be one layer and only one temperature with a specific heat

So, if you need the extra layers, do consider this.



Ceramics handle multiple firings

Ceramics are good for multiple firings. The reason for multiple firings is because of the following:

  • You can glaze fire the pottery to give it a finish
  • You can use a bisque fire before glazing to get to heat and shaped before you throw the glaze on there
  • Clay firing is usually single-fire, which means that it won’t be as strong, and the glazes typically are much more limited
  • Multiple firings are perfect for those potters that want something they can use for everything that they’re doing, whereas the clay firing is good for earthenware

So yes, you can use either of these for your projects, it just depends on what you’re going for



Clay good for basic Potters

If you’re a basic potter, go with clay. If you’re thinking about going with a serious type of pottery making, involving multiple mediums, go with ceramics.

The reason to start with clay is simple, it’s because of the following:

  • It gets you a feel for how to fire clay
  • You’re not working with super hot temperatures
  • You need to just single-fire
  • You don’t need to worry about it possibly shattering and breaking

With ceramics, it tends to be pricier, and it might not be what you need immediately. But, for clay pottery, you can do a lot with a clay kiln, and get started with making basic pottery to learn the skills

And there you have it, the differences between each, and which one is good for which user. The answer on which one is better is ultimately up to what you’re going to use it for, and what you think you’ll get out of it.

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