You may have noticed that some of our kilns have elements wrapped around ceramic rods or encased in quartz tubes in the lids. These design features add a lot of value to the design of the kiln in different ways. Here is a quick breakdown of how these different materials enhance the function of the kiln environment.
Some kilns have elements in the lid that are wrapped around ceramic rods. The main benefit for using this building technique is to keep the elements from dropping or sagging. As elements age they sometimes lose their shape. When they are installed in the lid of the kiln, this can be a problem if nothing is holding them up. By wrapping the elements around a ceramic rod, the elements are supported in place. As an added bonus, the ceramic rod helps to radiate the heat evenly into the kiln. Here is a closeup detail of an Evenheat kiln lid that utilizes ceramic rods in the lid element design.
Here is a picture of a Jen-Ken kiln that utilizes quartz tubes in the lid design.
Quartz Tubes have several benefits in kiln element design. The tubes keep the elements firmly in place, they protect the elements from oxidation, and they also intensify the heat from the elements. If you fire enamels in your kiln, then there are fumes that are emitted that can attack the elements and weaken them over time. Having the elements incased in the quartz tubes helps to protect the elements from these harmful fumes.
This is info from Gail, our resident Enamel Artist:
Enamels emit metal oxides into the kiln chamber when they are fired. Those metal oxides are attracted to the metal elements in the lid of your kiln. Over time, the more metal oxide builds upon the elements, the heavier they get, and the more they droop and bend. Eventually, they break! Quartz tubes completely prevent this issue! So, if you print on glass with enamels on a regular basis, then quartz tubes are for you!
And from Paragon, here is a great explanation of some of the other added benefits of using quartz tubes in kiln element design:
The lid elements are protected in quartz tubes for a cleaner kiln interior. There is less dust in the kiln because there are no element grooves in the firebrick top, which is one continuous, smooth surface. The quartz tubes protect the elements from contamination with foreign materials that could shorten the element life. The tubes absorb very little heat, allowing the elements to heat the firing chamber efficiently. Quartz tubes also protect the user from contact with the elements.
This is a Paragon kiln with quartz tubes in the lid.
Olympic Kilns also has the option of adding a fiber lid with quartz tubes to any of their square kilns.
So, there you have it. A quick explanation of the purpose and benefits of those funny rods and tubes in the lids of some kilns. As always, we welcome your suggestions for future blog posts! If there is something you have always wondered about, let us know and we will do our best to answer your questions.