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Essential Safety Equipment: Gloves

When working with glass in a kiln, there are two main situations that call for the use of gloves: protecting the hands from heat and protecting the hands from caustic chemicals.  

Because the warm glass field sometimes involves the use of chemicals that may damage the skin, it's a good idea to keep on hand a supply of thin latex gloves and thicker plastic gloves. These are relatively inexpensive and should be used anytime you are dealing with potentially dangerous chemicals.

Several types of gloves are available for protecting the hands from the heat. The least expensive are welder's gloves, which are made of leather. Available at most hardware stores for less than ten dollars (US), they will protect the hands for temperatures up to about 500 degrees F (260 C).

Since leather has a tendency to hold heat (rather than dispel it), they will quickly become very hot if you hold on to an item for too long. Despite this shortcoming, they may be used for quick tasks such as grasping a hot handle to open the kiln or removing a mold that's been heated and is ready for kiln wash application.

You can get better protection from the heat by spending a bit more for a set of gloves that contain Kevlar. Originally developed by DuPont, Kevlar is a form of fiberglass. These gloves will not hold the heat the way that leather does, so they can be used for longer without getting too warm.

If you plan to work in higher temperatures, consider "Zetex" gloves. Zetex is a form of Kevlar that is especially formulated for higher temperatures. In general, gloves that are lined with wool or cotton are preferable to ones that are not.

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Copyright 2006 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

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Copyright 2005-2006 by M. Bradley Walker.  All rights reserved.

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