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In primitive firing, many things can go wrong, as the pots are very susceptible to breakage at this stage. Sometimes a 50% failure rate is not unheard of. Actually we should refer to the firing in two stages, the pre-firing, and firing. As the pot heats, it will expand. Any remaining moisture has to be driven out slowly. Gradual heating thru-out. So we pre-heat. Then the pot must be transferred from indirect heat to direct heat. You can lose a lot of pots here. Two critical stages; 1) when the pot reaches a temperature around boiling (212F/100C), the remaining unnatural water leaves, and 2) at a temp of 8-900F, the natural chemical water of the clay is burned out. After this second stage, the clay cannot be returned to its original condition and be reworked. A few firing techniques and tips/suggestions.

Scrape a wide shallow depression in the ground, about one inch deep and two feet in diameter. Place a few pebbles on the bottom which to lay the overturned pot. Lay a piece of cordwood the same diameter as the pot on each side. Leave a space between the logs and the pot. Next lay two same sized pieces in-between the logs and up almost touching the pot. Take a few dried cow chips and crumble them up in small pieces and cover the pot. Then carefully cover the pots with a few more smaller logs like a flat roof using the logs as sides. Build a teepee fire on top of the logs and let the whole thing burn down to coals. The pots should be allowed to cool slowly, but cooling can be sped up some by periodically scraping some of the coals away from the pot, and eventually taking the pot out with some sticks.

======== OOOOO ========

== - logs
O - pots

Thats a one step firing (no pre-heating) that can be successfully used atleast for small pots.

Offered by Steve.
Source: Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills by John & Geri McPherson, $24.95.