[Clayart] Sawdust instead of straw in small DIY primitive kiln

vpitelka at dtccom.net vpitelka at dtccom.net
Fri Apr 1 12:12:17 UTC 2022

In my Ancient Clay workshops, we do a blackware bonfiring and smother the fire with sawdust and then bury it to get the jet-black color.  So I've had experience with the combustibility of most common kinds of sawdust.  Robert is right that finely powdered sawdust is dangerous, but only if it is dispersed I a concentrated cloud.  Then it can be explosive.  If it is just in a pile, it is the opposite - it is hard to burn because oxygen cannot get into the pile.  You don't say exactly what you are trying to do.  Is this sawdust going to be the primary fuel?  Are you going to feed it into the kiln somehow as you fire?  A little more information would be helpful.  I've had experience with Lowell Baker's sawdust burners, which inject the sawdust into a firebox with a blower.  Those burners are capable of melting the interior of the firebox, and I've seen it happen.  

If you are only using the sawdust for color and other surface effects, then a coarse sawdust will work best.  
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Potter, Writer, Teacher
Chapel Hill, NC
vpitelka at dtccom.net

-----Original Message-----
From: Clayart <clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com> On Behalf Of Robert Harris
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2022 11:12 PM
To: Clayart international pottery discussion forum <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
Subject: Re: [Clayart] Sawdust instead of straw in small DIY primitive kiln

As long as it is chunky sawdust, I would think that is OK. Very fine sawdust - or sawdust with a lot of very fine particles can be somewhat hazardous.
Of course it depends exactly how you are going to fire with the sawdust.

On Thu, 31 Mar 2022 at 10:33, Carolyn Curran <cncpots2 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Straw is a pain for a tiny kiln--I know, after trying to break up 
> straw into manageable pieces. for one primitive  foot high kiln I once built.
> How about sawdust instead?  I haven't seen any suggestions on the net 
> and have no easy access to library around here or to the kiln books left behind
> when I moved..   Carolyn
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