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An oven is a tool which is used to expose materials to a hot environment. Ovens contain a hollow chamber and provide a means of heating the chamber in a controlled way. In use since antiquity, they have been used to accomplish a wide variety of tasks requiring controlled heating. Because they are used for a variety of purposes, there are many different types of ovens. These types differ depending on their intended purpose and based upon how they generate heat.
Ovens are often used for cooking, where they can be used to heat food to a desired temperature. Ovens are also used in the manufacturing of ceramics and pottery; these ovens are sometimes referred to as kilns. Metallurgical furnaces are ovens used in the manufacturing of metals, while glass furnaces are ovens used to produce glass.
There are many methods by which different types of ovens produce heat. Some ovens heat materials using the combustion of a fuel, such as wood, coal, or natural gas, while many employ electricity. Microwave ovens heat materials by exposing them to microwave radiation while electric ovens and electric furnaces heat materials using resistive heating. Some ovens use forced convection, the movement of gases inside the heating chamber, to enhance the heating process, or, in some cases, to change the properties of the material being heated, such as in the Bessemer method of steel production.