How to Build a Brick Kiln That Uses Wood Fire as the Heat Source

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A wood fire has been the principal heat source for kilns for thousands of years. The most primitive kilns were simply a pit in the ground with a fire built on top, but using brick helps to insulate the kiln and achieve higher firing temperatures. Brick kilns are made in hundreds of different designs, some very complex, but a simple, mortar-less brick kiln using wood fire is easy to construct.

Things You'll Need

  • Bricks
  • Sawdust
  • Wood
  • Copper sulfide (optional)
  • Corrugated iron sheet
  • Pottery
  • Newspaper
  • Matches
  • Lay a 3-foot square of bricks on the ground, for the floor of the kiln. Make sure that the area is flat, devoid of vegetation and at a distance of at least 15 feet from any buildings.

  • Build the walls of the kiln by laying bricks one on top of the other, until a 3-foot cubic brick box is formed. Leave out a window of around 3 bricks from the top of one side of the kiln wall for a through-draught vent.

  • Fill the bottom of the kiln with around 5 inches of sawdust and place the pottery pieces in the sawdust. Sprinkle the copper sulfide over the pots if desired---this is purely aesthetic, as copper sulfide helps create different color patterns on the pottery.

  • Scrunch newspaper and place it in a layer on top of the pottery, then fill the rest of the kiln with firewood, being careful not to disrupt the brick kiln walls.

  • Light the fire when the kiln is full, making sure it catches all the way down. Add more wood as the fire burns down until a good blazing fire is achieved.

  • Cover the top of the kiln with the corrugated sheet, weighing it down with some bricks placed on the sides of the top.

  • Let the kiln burn for around 12 hours, or until it burns itself out. Unpack the kiln only when the fire is completely out and has cooled sufficiently.

Tips & Warnings

  • Placing organic material like leaves, fruit peel or other metal oxides and sulfides around the pots helps to create different patterns and colors on the fired pottery pieces.
  • Kilns reach very high temperatures (in average of 1,500 degrees F) so keep pets, children and inebriated individuals well away from kilns as they burn.
  • Check if kilns are allowed in your jurisdiction before building one.

References

  • Photo Credit clay pot image by bright from Fotolia.com
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