While clay is the essential material of pottery, kilns are the essential tools. Kilns are the means by which clay is turned from a fragile material into one that will last for centuries. Firing the kiln is also a time of high excitement for a potter. There are few things more fun than tending a kiln through its firing cycle and then, after impatiently waiting for it to cool, opening a kiln to see what the fire has wrought. The history of the development of kilns is fascinating and would take a full book to describe and, in fact, several books have been written on the subject of kilns. Today potters use primarily gas-fired or electric kilns with a few preferring oil or wood-fired kilns. There are advantages to each and every potter has fairly strong opinions on why what he or she uses is best. Clearly the simplest and cheapest is an electric kiln. Most potters do their bisque firing in an electric kiln even if they prefer gas, oil or wood for glaze firing. If a potter chooses to glaze fire in an oxidizing atmosphere, an electric kiln can also be an excellent choice. However if reduction firing or salt/soda glazing is desired, then a gas, oil or wood-fired kiln is the tool of choice. I have been able to get the effects I want with an electric kiln so I use that for both bisque and glaze firing.