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Ultralite kiln, electricity, melting silver


My Ultralite kiln needs a new heating element already! One of the
electric cords fell out.

Instead of solder (which would melt off as soon as the kiln was
fired up), the electrical connections had been secured in a ceramic
plug. My guess is that low-fire clay was packed around the wires,
then the kiln was turned on to fire the clay.

Anyway, both ceramic plugs had fallen out of their holes, so the
wires were free to move around, eventually breaking.

The wires were also free to touch the shell of the kiln–which could
explain the electric shocks I sometimes (but not always) felt.

I tried to cobble the wires together by melting some silver around
the broken connection. That way, I’d have the use of the kiln while
waiting for the replacement parts. It didn’t work, however: The
silver just balled up and would not flow around the wires. Wouldn’t
stick to them, either. I tried Battern’s, Prip’s, and 99 fluxes. How
do you get silver to flow instead of becoming a blob?


My Ultralite kiln needs a new heating element already! One of the
electric cords fell out. 

Janet: Try connecting the wire back up with a copper tube you could
make from a penny rolled to about 8/10 mm thick a good half inch long
to make a good contact on the wire then you need to squash the tube
to hold the two together without solder (Dent squash with a small
bump in the pliers to crimp it) and that should last you quite some
time. The original joints are made too thin specially to make them
fail early.

They are out to sell as many elements as they can. You do not need to
buy a new element each time as they make you believe.

I went to heavier grade wire you can get at the hardware store for
toasters it comes with an asbestos type material covering to protect
against heat, (Be sure to slip the ceramic plug over the wire before
you join it, as the slip on power connector is bigger than the hole
of the ceramic plug.

Use all new connectors (Also dent squash with a small bump in the
pliers to crimp the connectors too)each time you recondition the
unit, you can get them at Radio Shack.

And when you slip the ceramic plug back over it, it should be like

Allan Creates


The heating element wire has a high chromium contend and the
chromium oxide will not dissolve in the fluxes you are using. It may
be possible to solder it with “black” flux but it will still be
difficult . You can get black flux from a welding supply it is used
on stainless steel and other difficult to solder metals.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau


Rather than take a chance trying to fix the problem with your
Ultralite yourself,why not contact the manufacturer and ask about
them doing it for you. Much much safer. I am sure that they would
be very helpful. Alma


Hello, I have repaired broken kiln elements many times (I hope that
I am understanding that this is your problem). I use a handheld
disposable propane torch to heat the ends of the break and
straighten them out using pliers (its nice to have someone else hold
the torch for you while you work). Once I have 2 strait ends about
1 inch each, I let them cool, then clean them up with sand paper. I
heat them up to red hot again, then twist them together and really
give them a good clamping with the pliers to maximize the surface
area that is touching. I usually fold them back out of the way
before I let them cool down. The only trick is to be gentle enough
while doing this that you don’t put any more breaks in the element.
It might sound like I am a cheapskate but I have repaired up to five
breaks on an element before breaking down and installing a new one.
As far as replacing broken bits of the kiln that you need, I just
stuff everything with ceramic fiber until it holds (sometimes I use
kiln pins to help hold in place). Bye now, Holly

    My Ultralite kiln needs a new heating element already! One of
the electric cords fell out. 

Janet: Don’t mess with a new element, wait till it burns out then do
it, I would plug in the new one to keep working, and repair the old
one when you have the time no rush, then you always have a back up to
keep rolling along.

Also if you are able to melt up some copper and make a 5 mm square
wire about a inch long you can drill a hole in it to slip the wire
into it an d crimp it in place. They make great couplings “joiners”

I have an old element I have repaired so many times I have dug out
the insulation to reach the burned out end of the element so much I
am into the chamber, so I made an extension with copper wire and a
copper joiner to bring out the wire to a workable position and
rejoined the regular wires to reconnect as before.

The only thing I would like to find out is where to buy the
"Refractory Ceramic Insulation" I have been using some old asbestos
mixed with water for now to plug back up the hole I made to reach the
element wire.

Allan Creates

where to buy the "Refractory Ceramic Insulation" 

I have purchased Kaowool (brandname) from EJ Bartells in Portland Or,
but I believe they may have other outlets. If you call, ask if they
have any scraps, which is all you need for the odd repair. I love
this stuff, cant imagine owning a kiln without it. Also check with
your local pottery suppliers or fused glass supply. Note: Always
wear a respirator when handling. Bye now, Holly…Found


Well, we’ve see lots if ideas on fixing the electrical side of this
issue and that’s good. Allan is asking about refractory ceramic
insulation. I don’t have any actual addresses but a web search for
"Ron Reil", “Reil Burners”, “Propane Burners”… will produce
numerous ideas from people building home made forges and small
foundry furnaces. These folks have numerous references to both
commercial and home made refractory cements and paint on linings
(ITC) that reflect up to 98% of the heat that hits them back into the
kiln/furnace. Certainly something along this line would act as the
insulation you seek. Another thing you might try is the stuff used in
wood stoves and fireplaces that repairs cracks. It’s a type of
refractory cement or plaster that can be purchased in small tubs of 1
lb to 5 lbs at home repair centers or hardware stores.

As for the searches mentioned above, I’d recommend “Reil burners”. I
have been toying with the idea of building a very small version of
one of Mr. Reil’s burners to make a small furnace more readily suited
to casting jewelery style work. Haven’t gotten there yet but it shows
some promise. Hope this helps Allan. Mike


Please be aware that Kaowool, in its fibrous form, will likely have
the same effect on your lungs as asbestos, as the fibers are similar
in size and shape. Refractory cements, in which the fibers are not
so “friable” (loose to become airborn) are safer. These materials
are really not very safe, however convenient.

If someone has hard that I am wrong, I would be really
pleased to know about it. It is possible that there is something new
since I last researched this.



Hi Janet, I’m normally an Orchid lurker but occassionally I make a
post. I’m an electrician with some experience in industrial cookers
etc. I will admit to only working on kilns a couple of times.

When using crimps in high temperature areas, please ensure that the
crimp material is suitable for high temperature use. The normal type
of crimps that we used in “Baine Mareas,” Ovens (domestic and
Industrial) etc were of a shiny appearance and were variously
described as Nickel or Nickel Silver plated. On one occassion when
we couldn’t get the correct crimps, a similar looking crimp (plated
not bare brass) but not the correct plating was pressed into service
on a stove element. It lasted a week and burned the element end off
as well.

It is also important to use correct crimping pliers and the correct
size crimp and wire sizing as a correctly made crimp excludes air
(oxygen) from the termination area and that prevents oxidisation.
Oxygen on a hot metal (most metals) causes a very thin oxide layer
to form. This oxide has a small resistance. The small resistance
causes heat to be formed at the connection causing the connection
temp to rise. This causes more oxide to form. More oxide is more
resistance, more heat…until the connection burns out. Unplated
brass or copper crimps can very quickly end up with thick flaking
oxide layers. The nickel plated crimps survive the high temperatures
of baking ovens etc for indefinate periods so the plating obviously

Insulation of hot areas is normally done with fibre glass tape
(often just called glass tape) or tubing also made of fibre glass.
These are available at electrical wholesalers (or perhaps eBay).



Any small fibrous material is bad news when inhaled there is lots of
data on these fibers health risks available at
Ceramic fibers are listed as probable human carcinogens. So proper
safety precautions must be taken.

However the danger is from airborne fibers that are inhaled so don’t
run out and throw away your kilns because they are made from ceramic
fiber. Ceramic fiber kilns and such are generally rigidized by a
binder that keeps the fiber in one place and keeps it from becoming
airborne. If you are going to be fabricating items from ceramic
fibers then you need to learn and take the appropriate safety
precautions like respirators and proper ventilation and

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau


This post is in reference to the Kaowool… I have seen this product
in several forms at my place of work, so i knew we should have an
MSDS sheet on it.

So i looked it up: basically kaowool looks much the same as many
other things…a little is not bad, a lot is not good. In the USA
only the state of California

classifies ceramic fibers as a known cause of cancer.

Right on the msds it says and i quote: “There has been no increased
incidence of respitory disease in studies of occupationally exposed

It does say that megadoses caused cancer in rats when exposed to
"particles specifically sized to maximixe rodent respirability"

I’d be safe, wear a cheapie respirator while working with it, then
throw the respirator away.

A bit of exposure to it is probably about as irritating as running
the vacuum cleaner around the house: a little eye and throat

It surely doesn’t warrant the same phobia as asbestos…

oh, by the way… remember those square flooring tiles in the 60’s

  • 70’s? Yep, you guessed it: most contain asbestos.

at a glass plant,
where the heat is always on!