How to Ventilate Your Kiln Room

How to Ventilate Your Kiln Room


Why it is important that your kiln room has adequate ventilation

Kilns produce fumes during firing from burning organic and inorganic components of clay and glazes.


Fumes can contain:

-Water vapour

-Carbon dioxide

-Carbon Monoxide

-Sulphur compounds

-Heavy metals

-Other unknown fumes from impurities of the clay/glazes


You are probably aware of the health risks associated with carbon monoxide. Sulphur fumes can be an irritant and pose health risks. There is also the risk of other hazardous fumes produced through unknown impurities.

Good ventilation will reduce these risks down to a minimum. It can also improve your firings, as clean air will be available to be used by the kiln, rather than ‘dirty’ air being recycled during the firing.


Does your room already have adequate ventilation?

Good ventilation doesn’t always have to mean having a specialist install expensive equipment to pump the air out. Your room might already have enough ventilation to begin with.



If your room already has more than one of the following features, you likely do not need any extra equipment:

-Door(s) that lead directly outside

-Large windows that can be opened fully

-A natural draft created by openings on opposite sides of the room

-Relatively large space compared to the size of the kiln (Small kiln in an average sized bedroom)

Garden Pottery studio great ventilation

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You probably also have an unused fan lying around somewhere that you can use to help generate a draught to help push the fumes out of the room.


When you might need extra ventilation:

In some cases, the natural ventilation might need a bit of help bringing fresh air into the room.


If any of the below apply to your setup, you might want to consider extra ventilation:

-Small room with one or two small windows and a relatively large kiln

-You can smell strong kiln fumes in the room, even after firing.

-The room gets very hot while firing

-You plan to use the room while a firing is taking place


If you don’t have adequate ventilation, it will usually be quite obvious, as the room will heat up a lot and have a very distinctive smell.

It’s also understandable that you might want to increase the ventilation just for a bit more peace of mind.


Options for kiln ventilation

You have a few options when looking to improve kiln ventilation:


  1. Simple duct ventilation

Kiln ventilation tubing

This is the cheapest and easiest way to help fumes escape your kiln room. This involves simply leading the air through a duct pipe from the kiln exhaust, leading out of an window or door.

The tube is positioned in a way that means that air is always moving upwards as it goes out of the window/door. This utilises the fact that hot air rises. As the fumes come out of the exhaust and move up through the tube, it creates a vacuum effect and pulls more of the air from around the exhaust up through it.

We recommend giving this technique a go if you just need that extra bit of ventilation. If you can still smell fumes in the room after firing then you may need some extra ventilation.


Vent Sure Flexible Ducting - Potclays


  1. Hood vents

Kiln ventilation requirements hood vent

These vents are essentially the same as the hood vents above your cooker. They again use the fact that heat rises to pull air out of the kiln area. They can be a little less efficient, as they are not positioned right next to the exhaust. However, these vents are often electric and actively extract air from the room to move it outside.

This type is a fair it more expensive and may be more complicated to install.


  1. Kiln-specific ventilation

Some brands sell ventilation equipment that is designed specifically to be fitted to a particular model of kiln. This can be a great way to go as this is usually a very efficient method which allows minimal exhaust fumes to escape into the kiln room.

These can sometimes be quite expensive, however. Not all kiln manufacturers produce these so get in touch with your dealer.


  1. Whole room extractor fan


Another option is to install an extractor fan to the room, either on the ceiling or high up on a wall. These can pump significant amounts of air out of the room. This might be necessary in addition to other methods if your room is particularly small and your kiln is especially large.


Final thoughts

Although electric kilns can produce harmful fumes, most of the time a couple of big windows or doors provide ample ventilation. You can also aid this ventilation without breaking the bank using regular fans or tubing. Anywhere you can get a draught that lets in fresh air and pushes out ‘dirty’ air, this greatly helps ventilation.

Remember, if you can avoid using the kiln room while your pieces are firing, this massively reduces the chances of being affected by any of the potentially harmful fumes. Make sure that the carbon monoxide alarms in your house/studio are in order to further minimise the risk.

Usually, you will be able to notice the smell from the fumes and feel the room heating up if you do not have adequate ventilation.

Please note that the options presented here are not an exhaustive list, and there are many methods of ventilating a room. These are just a couple of simple and effective options to get you started.


Happy potting!

The Pottery People






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