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fire, real fire/pit fire

updated fri 31 jan 97


Roeder on mon 13 jan 97


Regarding pit firing:
As for temperature, I do not use cones, I just have a "feel" for how much
wood, and what type of wood, produces what kind of results.

The same ingredients will produce different effects at different temperatures.

For instance, "Miracle Grow" fertilizer makes a kind of nice dry green
patina--mossy looking--when temps are low (not much wood used) and the fire
burns down quickly. However, this same ingredient fluxes at higher
temps/longer firings, and looks more like a flock of seagulls relieved
themselves over your pots ;-)

It is very much a trial and error process, and only hands on experience will
give you the knowlege you are seeking.

I once stuck a pyrometer probe into the glowing embers and it registered
over 1800 degrees F. This was done only after it had cooled to let me get
in close enough to put the probe in....I don't know what the peak temp
reached was.

You will definitely get varied results based on how much sawdust, how much
wood, how you stack it, how much air it gets, what type of wood you use...

I fire in the snowy months, when necessary, filling a toboggan with wood and
bags of sawdust and trudging up and down the hill to my "pit/kiln". No
thermal shock problems if it's covered. It is a dangerous operation due to
the slippery hillside, though, and I don't recommend it.

You just let it burn down until the pots are cool enough to remove.

Candice Roeder

>>I've been doing pit firing for a few years now, and it is such a joy. I
>>have had many, many failures with it, but when it works, the good stuff is
>>SO good, that it keeps you going through the bad times.
>>I dump in sawdust. Load in the pots, nesltling them into the sawdust. I've
>>fired stoneware, red and white earthenware and raku clay, and porcelain.
>I have been reading this subject with complete fascination. I too have
>always wanted to try this ever since I heard about it, but wasn't sure how
>to go about it. Now I can hardly wait for spring, warm weather ??? etc. so
>I can go for it. I still have one question - how do you know what the
>temperature is? Do you use cones or just leave it burning as long as
>possible and guess or does this just come with experience?
>New and learning,