Can You Use a Kiln at Home? How to Use

Deciding to get a pottery, glass, or metal heat treating kiln for home use means considering factors like the size to fit your pieces, the type of firing, controls for temperature accuracy, safety features such as shut-offs and ventilation, ensuring your home's electrical capacity matches the kiln's needs, and balancing your budget with kiln size and features that suit your current and future production goals.

A home pottery kiln, glass kiln, or knife kiln is not only possible but exciting to own!  However, there are some considerations to consider when deciding to purchase.

For instance, safe operation requires 18 inches of distance around the kiln to prevent fires. In today’s article, we’ll show you how to use your kiln at home if you want to do your projects from the comfort of your space. Let’s get started! 

Important Considerations for Home Pottery Kiln Use

Check your electrical supply to avoid overloading circuits with the kiln's power needs. Many kilns and firing processes are available. The major methods are gas kilns and electric kilns. Home potters typically choose electric kilns for their simplicity, cost, and fast heating. Electric kilns are popular and practical for novices and amateurs starting with pottery. 

During the firing process, kilns may release caustic gases and fumes depending on what you are firing, due to the chemical transformations in clay and glaze. These emissions can be unpleasant in odor and potentially harmful to health, especially during the firing of metallic glazes when metal vapors and other chemicals can be released. For instance, sulfur emitted from organic matter in the clay during bisque firing can create a strong, sulfuric odor resembling eggs.

These concerns are easily addressed so that, potters can enjoy the convenience of having a kiln at home. Addressing the issue of gases and fumes involves considering the placement of the kiln within your home and ensuring sufficient ventilation. These measures are crucial for creating a safe and comfortable environment for pottery firing.

Let's delve into six solutions to address the concerns related to kiln placement and ventilation in your home studio:

Home Ventilation for Your Kiln

Once you've found a kiln for glass fusing, pottery, or your other projects, it's time to get into proper home ventilation. Follow our five steps below to ensure you're using your kiln at home properly.

1. Where to Place Your Kiln

Suppliers typically advise placing your kiln in a basement or garage due to their spacious nature, which helps disperse gases, fumes, and heat more effectively. Additionally, these areas are somewhat isolated from the main living areas of your home. However, it's crucial to note that even in larger spaces like basements or garages, ventilation remains essential. Without proper ventilation, fumes can accumulate and potentially migrate into your living spaces, posing health risks. Therefore, regardless of the location of your home, ensuring adequate ventilation near the kiln is paramount to maintaining a safe environment for pottery firing.

Related: The Best Kilns for Beginners

Other Recommended Locations for Kiln Placement

If your pottery kiln doesn't fit in a basement, garage, or backyard, there are other choices. Consider using a garden storage shed if available. Consider erecting a shed for the kiln if you don't already have one. Another option is to run the kiln indoors. For indoor applications, a separate kiln room is ideal. Using a spare room as your workshop and closing the door during firing sessions keeps fumes and heat in the kiln chamber.

Is It Safe to Keep Your Kiln in Your Kitchen?

Studies have shown that exposure to kiln fumes can pose health risks, leading to differing opinions among potters regarding kiln placement, particularly in areas like the kitchen. While some are comfortable with the risk, others strongly advise against it due to safety concerns. It's important to note that there are no legal restrictions on placing a kiln in a central location within your home, making it a personal decision based on weighing the benefits and risks.

When firing pottery, including the heating and cooling phases, the entire process can span around 24 hours. It's advisable not to leave the kiln unattended during this time, although constant supervision isn't necessary if it's nearby and can be checked regularly. Many potters choose not to use their kiln room while firing to avoid potential risks and disruptions, especially if it's located in a central living area where uninterrupted use is desired.

2. Determine Kiln Ventilation Type

Wherever you decide to put your kiln, it is essential to ensure that it has adequate ventilation. In most cases, three primary approaches can be utilized to adequately ventilate your kiln:

Making a Cross-draft for Your Kiln

The simplest and most cost-effective way to ventilate your kiln is through the cross-draft method. This involves having an open window near the kiln and using a fan to create airflow in the kiln room, with the door propped open to facilitate fresh air circulation. Historically, this method has been used by kiln owners for many years.

However, recent advancements have introduced more efficient power venting options for kilns. These methods not only effectively remove fumes but also help to stabilize the temperature within the kiln, leading to improved firing results. Two common power venting options include:

Updraft Ventilation of a Kiln

This type of venting system operates similarly to an extractor fan found in domestic ovens. It involves placing a hood over your kiln, which then draws fumes, gases, and heat through the hood and expels them out of the room via a venting tube. An example of an overhead venting system is the Vent Hood Updraft Gas Kiln. This system utilizes an updraft ventilation system that effectively removes fumes while helping to maintain a comfortable ambient temperature in your kiln room or studio.

The Vent Hood Updraft Kiln system is renowned for its performance in fume removal and temperature control, surpassing other venting systems available. It comes in sizes 18 and 23 inches, with hood options ranging 28 inches in top-loading, and Raku gas kilns measure 40″ x 40″.

Downdraft Ventilation of a Kiln

In most cases, vent systems in different types of kilns are designed with a vent hole located on the kiln floor for easy attachment. The purpose of this vent is to create a vacuum effect, which draws a modest amount of air through the kiln's interior. Subsequently, this air is channeled through an exhaust vent hose, like the Orton VentMaster 120V, allowing you to direct it safely away from your firing area.

The versatility of this setup is noteworthy. You have several options for routing the exhaust air. You can choose to direct it through an exterior wall, channel it through a series of hoses leading to a window, or simply guide it out of a doorway. Another option is directing it into a larger, better-ventilated space, ensuring that the kiln's emissions are effectively managed.

Kiln vents can be controlled manually or automatically by your kiln's digital controller by installation of an AOP (Auxilliary Outlet Plug) onto the kiln. The AOP, which the vent is then plugged into, allows the digital controller to tell the vent when to turn on and off. Ask your kiln distributor when you are purchasing a new kiln if your kiln has this option. The convenience factor is fantastic and energy efficient. 

3. Have Suitable Flooring

The top and bottom of the kilns emit heat. Thus, heat-resistant flooring is essential. Carpets and laminate flooring are heat-sensitive, so concrete or durable tile flooring is best. Lay 2.54-6.35 cm thick concrete slabs or ceramic floor tiles on a flat surface to cover at least the footprint of your kiln to produce a heat-resistant surface. Concrete board or Hardy backy board can be purchased at your local home improvement store to put on top of carpeting or laminate floors to protect them from high-heat exposure. We recommend putting a lay of ceramic tiles on top of the concrete board for added insulation and safety.

4. Protect the Kiln from Moisture

Protecting your kiln from moisture is crucial for its safety and functionality. To achieve this, it's recommended to keep your kiln indoors where it won't be exposed to water or rain. Additionally, during winter, it's advisable to relocate your controller to a protected area to prevent moisture damage.

5. Kiln Operation Heat Safety

Operating a kiln involves dealing with extremely high temperatures, making safety a top priority. It's essential to keep everyone, especially children and pets, at a safe distance from both active kilns and those in the cooling phase. Additionally, be mindful of flammable materials and their proximity to the kiln. Ensure that no curtains, plastic items, or other combustible materials are placed near or on the kiln to prevent potential hazards.


You can use a kiln at home, but it requires careful planning. Make sure you know where you’re going to place your kiln and determine what type of kiln ventilation you’re going to use. Furthermore, you’ll need to have suitable flooring and proper wiring installed along with moisture protection.

But, if you’ve done all the steps correctly, you’ll now have a space for you to do your projects without the hassle of going to a studio!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Explore more