Why is my polymer clay smoking?

Working with polymer clay can be a rewarding and creative experience, but encountering unexpected issues like smoking can be concerning. If you’ve noticed smoke emanating from your polymer clay during the baking process, it’s important to understand the potential causes and how to address them. In this article, we will explore the reasons why polymer clay may smoke during baking and offer insights into how to prevent and troubleshoot this issue.

1. Excessive Baking Temperature

One of the primary reasons for smoking polymer clay is using an excessive baking temperature:

Polymer clay is designed to be baked at specific temperatures recommended by the manufacturer. Baking at a temperature higher than the recommended range can cause the clay to overheat, resulting in the release of smoke. This overheating can lead to discoloration, burning, and even the emission of potentially harmful fumes.

2. Poorly Ventilated Oven

A poorly ventilated oven can contribute to smoking polymer clay:

When baking polymer clay, volatile compounds released during the curing process need to dissipate. If your oven is not well-ventilated, these compounds can accumulate, leading to smoke formation. It’s important to ensure proper ventilation by using an oven with good air circulation or leaving the oven door slightly ajar during baking.

Addressing the Issue

If you encounter smoking polymer clay, here’s what you can do:

  • Check Baking Temperature: Confirm that you are baking the clay at the correct temperature specified by the manufacturer. Adjust the temperature if necessary and use an oven thermometer to monitor accuracy.
  • Improve Ventilation: Use an oven with good air circulation or slightly open the oven door during baking to allow volatile compounds to escape.
  • Monitor Baking Time: Ensure that you are baking the clay for the recommended duration. Over-baking can also contribute to smoking and other issues.

Preventing Future Incidents

To prevent smoking polymer clay in the future, follow these best practices:

  • Read Instructions: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for baking temperature and duration.
  • Use a Reliable Oven Thermometer: Use an oven thermometer to accurately monitor the temperature inside the oven.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: Ensure that there is enough space between clay items during baking to allow for proper heat circulation.
  • Test and Experiment: If you are working with a new brand or type of polymer clay, consider conducting test bakes to determine the optimal temperature and baking time.


Smoking polymer clay during baking can be alarming, but it is usually the result of using an excessive baking temperature or poor ventilation. By understanding the causes and taking preventive measures, you can ensure a successful and safe baking process for your polymer clay creations. Always prioritize safety, follow recommended guidelines, and be attentive to any unusual signs or odors while baking.

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