I understand the concept of heat work. What I don't understand is what's the merit of soaking for an extended period of time to reach a certain cone as opposed to just raising the kiln to that temperature more quickly. Given that there are merits of this approach, how far can you push it and why? I know that Stephen Hill's firing schedules make a lot of use of soaking.
I know that I can test all the stuff for 10 years but at 69, I need more of a shortcut
Firing to a lower temperature and soaking can add richness to a glaze, and can also extend element life. I noticed a 25% increase in element life when I started soaking cone 6 for 40 minutes to get to cone 8, instead of firing all the way to cone 8. Two things cause wear on elements: high temperature and cycling on and off. In my very unscientific test, firing hotter wore them out faster than cycling to hold temp.