What happens if you leave the newspaper and other burn-off materials in your sculpture when you put it in the kiln?

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Kiln firing is a process that requires some experience if you are learning the art. You cannot simply pick up the piece and start the kiln firing process. You need to learn all about the dos and don’ts. Kilns are very expensive and need to be managed accordingly. A small mistake and you might end up with a broken kiln that needs to be repaired. Worst yet, you might have to dump it and get a new one if the mistake is a big one.


But, what if you add newspaper or similar materials inside your sculpture that burn off easily inside a kiln? Would that hamper your kiln in any way? Or would it simply burn off and turn into ash?


Let us learn more about this!


Will Newspaper Or Similar Items Burn Inside A Kiln?

Yes, most burnable materials can easily burn inside the kiln during the pottery firing process. An average kiln has the capacity to achieve a temperature that ranges between 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and 2400 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything that can burn at a temperature in this range or lower can easily burst into bright flames & can turn into ash.


Most ceramic classes will teach you that stuffing newspaper inside a clay piece helps it hold the shape better during the firing process. As the temperature inside the kiln increases, there is a rapid expansion of the clay material. If the clay layer is flimsy, it might not hold its shape during the firing process. So, it is important to place any substance that helps hold this shape and doesn’t fuse into the pottery piece.


The best choice for this is a newspaper. If your piece is spherical, the key is to ball up the newspaper and place it inside the pottery piece to help maintain its shape during the firing process. This newspaper will easily burn inside the kiln and turn into ash. Once the fired piece has cooled, simply dust off any ash inside and continue with the projects.


To clean the piece properly, you can use the Creative Hobbies Brush for Ceramic Pottery. Made from high-quality bamboo, this soft brush is made from sheep hair with a wide and flat design to help reach the corners with ease.



Tips When Adding Newspaper Or Other Burnable Items During Firing

One thing you need to keep in mind when firing pottery with burnable items inside is to avoid the formation of air pockets. But, how do air-pockets form inside the pottery piece during the kiln-firing process? This mostly won’t happen with a piece that has an open mouth structure. However, for an enclosed structure, you need to ensure that there are vents to allow the burnable structure to combust properly and vent the smoke formed.


If you fail to do this, it might cause unnecessary expansion inside the piece, which can induce cracks that are irreversible. Moreover, the structure might also explode if the air pressure inside is too high.


Next, make sure you wear a good-quality mask when cleaning up the dust or ash after the firing process. This powdered dust can be harmful to your lungs. So, a mask is the best way to protect your nose from carrying the dust to your lungs, especially if you suffer from breathing issues such as asthma.


Finally, give the structure a good wash to clean out any dust remaining inside.


If you tend to use low-fire glazes, the burnable material might burn later than the glaze fuses into the pottery piece. The slow-released smoke can get trapped inside this low-fire glaze. So, it can affect the final look of your pottery piece.


So, ensure that you stuff such burnable items only inside a purely bisque fired piece. It will surely leave some amount of ash within the kiln, but it can easily be vacuumed.


Can Burnable Items Damage Your Kiln?

While, in most cases, these burnable items will simply turn to dust, there are certain instances that might cause some severe damage to the kiln. If you happen to add too many of those newspapers to the pottery piece, you might end you causing a massive fire inside the kiln.


It can potentially damage the elements within the kiln. The explosion that happens within a sealed structure could also cause the kiln to be damaged from the inside. Also, ensure that the area around the kiln is well-ventilated. It will help the fumes to vent out better without causing any suffocation issues.


If you add a material that has too much moisture inside, it could cause the pottery piece to explode. The moisture can seep into the clay, and firing moist clay inside at such high temperatures can cause the piece to explode. Make sure any burnable items are completely dry before you stuff them inside the ceramic piece.


Can You Place Cardboard Inside The Kiln?

Yes, you can place cardboard inside the kiln during the firing process. However, when installing the kiln, ensure that it is kept at a distance of a minimum of 18 inches from a nearby wall. The further you keep it, the better for your kiln during the firing process. Make sure you keep all of the flammable, meltable, or combustible materials away from the top or sides of the pottery kiln.


You can place the cardboard piece on top of the kiln shelf to protect the glazed pieces from sticking to the base end. The cardboard will eventually fire off but not before the pottery piece is completely fired.


Let us learn what else can burn inside a kiln while supporting your pottery structure.

Burnable Kiln Materials

Does It Burn Inside A Kiln?


Wood Wood starts burning at 572oF, which is lower than the achievable kiln temperature


Paper Yes, the paper starts burning at 400oF. So, you can expect ash powder after the firing process.


Polypropylene (Plastic) Plastic starts melting at 338oF, which is lower than a standard kiln temperature


Glass Yes, glass can be fired inside a kiln. However, it won’t turn into ash like others on the list. Rather it will fuse into the pottery piece.




With these tips in mind, we hope you can fire your pottery piece without any complications. If you are new to the kiln firing process, make sure you have someone to guide you throughout the same. Make sure you practice the safety requirements to ensure nothing happens to your kiln during the firing process.

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