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MargieH

Sulpure free clay

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I read somewhere that sulphur free clay makes firing in a studio more safe from toxins. Is this true? I am setting up a studio and had planned to put my kiln outdoors under a metal roof after reading about safety issues of firing a kiln in the studio. I live in the U.K. And it gets really cold in winter and I am concerned about damage to the kiln. I do not have a garage so setting it up in there is not possible. I was wondering if use of sulphur free clays would lessen the risk of health problems. The studio is in a separate room from my house and the kiln could be fired at night with doors closed between the studio and rest of the house. Thanks

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I'm in Canada. My kiln is outdoors in a metal garden shed. It's not computerized, but it does have a rudimentary timer/relay control on it.  It's fine. 

Computerized kilns may require a space heater to bring the controller up to about 4 degrees C so it will turn on, and it takes slightly longer to fire when things get down to the minus double digits, but I find as long as it's out of the wind, the difference isn't too drastic. 

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Hi Margie,

Welome to the forums.  Ball clay and fire clay (stoneware) has various levels of sulfates and sulfides. The general rule being: the darker the color, or reddish in color: the higher the sulfur content. The caution is not unfounded, but sulfur is easy to deal with. By supplying plenty of oxygen up to 1000C, sulfur off gases as sulfur trioxide- which is harmless. However, if you starve oxygen or reduce sulfur in a gas kiln: then it emits sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is the same gas emitted when volcano erupts. Although minute amounts, it is corrosive and toxic. Just supply plenty of oxygen during the burn out phase and you will be fine. Porcelain have no appreciable levels of sulfur and white stoneware likewise has little.

t

Edited by glazenerd

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I have two kilns in my basement in my house. If you understand kiln safety issues, it can be done safely. They need proper electrical circuits, safe distance from walls, and a venting system to carry the kiln exhaust outside. In terms of health and safety, I am far more concerned about keeping clay dust out of my living quarters, than I am worried about the kilns. 

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The kiln needs to be kept dry, so just a roof won't do it. It should be in an enclosed space, especially if it's a digital kiln. You don't want blowing rain or morning dew on it. Having it in the house is no problem as long as you vent it. Like GEP said, clay dust is a much bigger safety issue.

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