A furnace is a device used for heating. The name derives from Latin fornax, oven. The earliest furnace was excavated at Balakot, a site of the Indus Valley Civilization, dating back to its mature phase (c. 2500-1900 BC). The furnace was most likely used for the manufacturing of ceramic objects.
In American English and Canadian English, the term furnace on its own is generally used to describe household heating systems based on a central furnace (known either as a boiler or a heater in British English), and sometimes as a synonym for kiln, a device used in the production of ceramics.
In British English the term furnace is used exclusively to mean industrial furnaces which are used for many things, such as the extraction of metal from ore (smelting) or in oil refineries and other chemical plants, for example as the heat source for fractional distillation columns.
The term furnace can also refer to a direct fired heater, used in boiler applications in chemical industries or for providing heat to chemical reactions for processes like cracking, and is part of the standard English names for many metallurgical furnaces worldwide.
The heat energy to fuel a furnace may be supplied directly by fuel combustion, by electricity such as the electric arc furnace, or through Induction heating in induction furnaces.