Best Microwave Kilns

Updated February 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

56 Models Considered
26 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
156 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best microwave kilns

The ability to melt glass can be a huge plus for jewelry makers and other artisans. You could use a traditional kiln to melt glass, but a traditional kiln is out of the price range of the majority of hobbyists and crafters. Wouldn’t it be great if you could melt glass in the microwave? As it turns out, with a microwave kiln, you can.

A microwave kiln enables you to quickly and easily melt glass for making jewelry and other craft projects. Essentially, it is an insulated box wrapped around an inner liner that heats up when exposed to microwaves. To use a microwave kiln, simply place the glass to be melted within the kiln. Secure the cover and place it in a dedicated microwave.

There are a number of factors to consider in order to select a kiln that will safely meet your needs. In this guide, we examine everything from microwave kiln size and pricing to construction materials. We also present a few of our favorite microwave kilns for your consideration.

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Whereas a traditional kiln heats and melts materials from the outside in, a microwave kiln heats and melts materials from the inside out.

Key consideration

Your intended use

Before we delve into the features of microwave kilns, let’s examine one very important point that must be understood before you buy: microwave kilns are not designed to make pottery.

If you are looking for a traditional kiln to fire clay pots or other types of pottery, you need a freestanding kiln designed specifically for that purpose. Traditional kilns get much hotter than microwave kilns. They also tend to cost a lot more.

The commonality between microwave kilns and traditional kilns lies in the use of the word “kiln,” which is defined by Merriam-Webster as a heated enclosure in which you can burn, fire, or dry material. Importantly, not every “kiln” is suitable for making clay pots.

Microwave kilns have been around for about 20 years. While the technology hasn’t changed much over this period, the price has definitely dropped.

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Features

Size

Microwave kilns are not large. You won’t be running a major jewelry operation with one of these, though some are bigger than others. The outside dimensions start out around 3 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches and top out around 4 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches in size. Notably, the inner fusing platform can be much smaller and is often no more than 2 1/4 inches wide.

If you are interested in working with larger pieces of jewelry, we suggest a larger kiln. Note, however, that these kilns are less portable, and consumers with small microwaves may have a harder time fitting the kiln inside. It’s a good idea to measure the interior dimensions of your microwave before ordering a microwave kiln.

Durability

The majority of microwave kilns are quite similar to one another. Therefore, it can be hard to distinguish which ones rise to the top in terms of durability. But some do. A common complaint regarding poorly built kilns is that cracks form in the walls after limited use.

Ease of use

Microwave kilns are easy to use but difficult to master. Some include detailed directions and/or access to instructional videos; others offer minimal instructions on how to use the kiln. Some melt glass quickly; others take longer. Uneven heating is a potential issue that could affect every firing.

Materials

A microwave kiln consists of an outside casing and an inside housing. The outside part of the kiln is usually made from some form of white fiber, which acts as insulation for the heat created on the inside. The white fiber contains the heat and also makes the kiln easier to handle when hot.

The inside of the kiln is where the action happens. The susceptor material heats up when exposed to microwaves. It is typically black and consists of some type of graphite, magnetite, or a similar material.

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Did You Know?
Firing times for microwave kilns vary depending on a number of factors, but the majority usually take five to ten minutes to melt glass.
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Microwave kiln prices

Lower price: In the $25 to $30 price range, you will find small, simple kilns that sell with few or no accessories. While you are limited as to how much glass you can fire at a time, kilns in this range are ideal for someone seeking to dabble with a microwave kiln. For a larger kiln, consider something in the $30 to $40 range.

Higher price: Kilns at higher price points (over $40) usually include some form of starter kit. For example, you might get a 10- to 15-piece collection of glass samples along with tools and kiln paper for the higher price. If you look in the $50+ price range, you will find microwave kilns that are great for experienced jewelers as well as those who are new and eager.

Practice makes perfect. Consider keeping a firing log to track your accomplishments so your skills will improve.

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Tips

  • Place kiln paper between the glass and the bottom of the inside of your kiln. This will help prevent the glass from sticking.
  • Use only fusing-compatible glass in your microwave kiln. You can find this type of glass in crafting supply stores and other outlets with art glass supplies.
  • After firing, leave the glass inside the kiln with the cover on. Allow it to slowly cool over the course of an hour or so. This helps prevent it from cracking as it cools.
  • Unless the directions specifically state otherwise, avoid placing materials such as metal, ceramic, and polished stone in your kiln. These materials can become volatile and even explode when heated quickly.
  • Use a microwave kiln in a microwave with a metal interior rather than a plastic one. The heat of the kiln is so intense that it can melt the interior of a plastic microwave. Cool your kiln between firings to preserve the integrity of both your kiln and your microwave.
  • If you are using the correct materials and the kiln sparks in the microwave, it could be a result of the black susceptor material leaking to the outside of the kiln. Gently scrape off this material when the kiln is sealed and try firing it again.
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With your kiln, use a dedicated microwave reserved just for the kiln. The reason: “burn off” from the melting glass could contaminate any foods later cooked in the microwave.

FAQ

Q. Will I get everything I need to start working with my microwave kiln?

A. You might just get the kiln, or you might get a starter kit. Check the specs before buying. A starter kit is helpful if you need supplies, though it will come at a higher price.

Some items you might find in a microwave kiln starter kit include the following:

  • Kiln paper
  • Glass samples
  • Safety gloves
  • Tools, such as a glass cutter and file
  • Jewelry accessories, such as earring bails

Q. How long will I need to microwave the glass?

A. There is no blanket answer to this question; it depends on a variety of factors. Glass by itself is not affected by the heat of a microwave, which is why you need the kiln to heat it to a melting temperature. Thoroughly read all instructions packaged with the microwave kiln and adhere to all safety recommendations.

Q. How hot does a microwave kiln get?

A. These kilns can typically reach temperatures in excess of 1600°F. In other words, really, really hot! As such, this isn’t a device that should be used by unsupervised children. Anyone using one of these should be wearing safety glasses and heat-resistant gloves to protect their eyes and hands.

When moving or checking a hot microwave kiln, keep it at arm’s length, and definitely keep it away from your face. A hot kiln should also be kept away from flammable objects and placed on a heat-proof surface. In addition, be sure to keep a hot kiln away from overhanging cabinets.

Q. What wattage should my microwave be to use a microwave kiln?

A. The included specs should include directions for recommended microwave settings. Manufacturers typically recommend that you use these on a higher microwave setting, with 1,000 watts or so being optimal. That said, you can use a microwave kiln in a lower-watt microwave, but it may take longer to melt glass.

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