At it most basic level, firing is process of heating a clay (or recipe of clays and minerals) to a temperature sufficient to fuse the particles together. However today, each type of ceramic has its not only its own firing temperature, but also schedule (control of the rate of rise and fall of the kiln). In addition the atmospheric pressure and atmosphere itself within the kiln are controlled for many types of firing, either by restricting the amount of oxygen in the chamber or replacing it entirely by another gas (like nitrogen). In addition kilns subject the load to drafts to help even out temperature and atmosphere and carry away water vapor and products of combustion and decomposition of bodies and glazes. Firing also varies in the types of fuel that are used (e.g. coal, gas, wood, sawdust, oil, electric) and the type of kiln (kilns vary widely in the way they deliver heat to the ware and channel it out).
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