Mid-South Ceramic Blog

How Hot Should Your Pottery Kiln Be?

When it comes to pottery equipment, one of the most vital factors to consider and get right is the temperature of the pottery kiln. Afterall, who wants to have channelled time, energy, money, and passion into creating a beautiful and meaningful piece only for it to be ruined in the final stages?

Ensuring the firing is done correctly is critical for pottery because this is when the color and characteristics are finalized, and the lifespan of your artwork is improved. Knowing what constitutes correct firing depends on what you have created and what your goals are for it.

The idea that your project could be damaged in the firing process can feel overwhelming and cause stress. MidSouth Ceramic understand! We’ve all been there. But be rest assured, it’s easy to figure out.

How Hot Can A Pottery Kiln Get?

In most cases, particularly for home kilns, the temperatures pottery kilns can reach ranges between 2000°F and 2400°F. This is impacted by the design of the kiln.

What Impacts The Temperature Requirement?

Pottery kilns have more than one job, so you must take on board each factor relevant to your specific creation to decide what temperature is needed.

Firing Clay

Most types of clay are fired successfully within the temperature range of many kilns, which is 2000°F and 2400°F, apart from porcelain, which requires higher temperatures. If clay is fired at too high a temperature, it can change shape or melt. If fired at too low a temperature, the clay can become rough and dry, and it might not set completely.

When it comes to deciding the specific temperature to aim for in the firing process, it depends on what type of clay you are using.

Low-Fire Clays

Earthenware is the most common low-fire clay and is easy to work with. Terracotta is a popular choice.

These should be fired within the temperature range of 1740°F to 2020°F. Many kilns are designed for mid-range or high-fire clays, but low-fire clays can be used in these kilns at lower temperatures.  Low-Fire is noted as Cone 06-04. Note the 0 which denotes low-fire.

Mid-Range Clays

Mid-range firing has become more popular as energy and fuel usage has become of increasing importance to pottery makers and the use of electric kilns is more prevalent.

Mid-range clay is stoneware, which is fairly easy to work with. 

These should be fired within the temperature range of 2120°F and 2270°F. Notes as Cone 5 or Cone 6.

High-Fire Stoneware 

These consist of similar ingredients to mid-range clays. They differ in that they have more refractory elements or less fluxing agents, or a combination of these factors.

These require higher temperatures than regular stoneware, which is a mid-range clay, and should be fired within the temperature range of 2300°F and 2340 °F. Noted as Cone 10 and is usually reserved for gas and wood kiln firings.

High-Fire Porcelain 

The requirements of porcelain are similar to other high-fire clays. However, it is particularly hard and dense, and can have a translucency and whiteness in the finished pieces. It can warp when in the kiln, so care must be taken.

These are generally fired within the temperature range of 2380°F and 2460°F. Pure kaolin requires a much higher temperature of 3270°F. Again, Cone 10 is the noted firing gauge.

Glazing Clay

Similar to firing clay, there is a variety of temperatures needed when it comes to the glazing step, depending on the type of clay used.

Low-Fire Glazes And Mid-range Glazes

These are fired at the same temperature as the highest Cone of the clay used.

High-Fire Glazes

These should be fired at a similar temperature to that which the clay body required.

Understand Your Clay And Glaze To Choose Your Temperature

Pottery is a beautiful art form that be an enjoyable hobby or a rewarding job. Either way, you want to make sure you get every step correct so that your pieces look great and last a long time.

There are a few factors to consider when it comes to pottery equipment. The process of setting the clay and glaze is just as important as the process of dreaming up your design in the first place.

Ultimately, you must understand what type of clay and glaze you are working with. This is determined by what your goals are for your piece. You also want to make sure you know the specifics – recommendations may change slightly between brands.

At MidSouth Ceramic, we stock high-quality kilns that are durable and easy to use and maintain. We are happy to provide you with advice regarding kiln temperatures and what will work best for your projects.

Order pottery equipment and different Cone firing clays online, call us, or come on in and chat with us!


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Nashville, TN

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