Brick Making

Rex Zietsman, September, 2010

For reference, here is my mix. Please note that this mix was arrived at to put insulating refractory in a gasifier. This gasifier is bound for rural Mozambique. The requirement therefore was to use readily available materials ie clay, sand, sawdust and water. You can substitute the sawdust with anything that will lead to gas bubbles once it has been fired. Typically you can use mica, sawdust, shredded paper, fine biomass, polystyrene balls though these have to be fine, etc. As the system heats up, the biomass burns out and leaves voids in the structure. There is a good set of photos in Aprovecho where they make Rocket stove refractory.

Primary Mix - by weight
75% clay - I bought some at a potters outlet though any reasonable quality "wild" clay will do 25% fine sand - I used plaster sand sifted to keep out rubbish Enough water to make mushy, well mixed mixture

Final Mix
1 volume primary mix
1 volume fine sawdust - screened to remove large particles

I then formed the final mix into triangular shaped bricks, dried them and fitted them into the frustum (chopped off cone) section of a furnace made from steel. I used straight clay as filler between the joints. I also made a 1" thick wall pipe using a cut off tin for the outside and a piece of PVC pipe for the inside. The mortar pipe fitted into the furnace outlet pipe fitted to the bottom of the cone. Mounting the furnace on bricks (to let air in from the bottom), we made a serious covered fire inside the refractory to cure the lot. It has come out very well.

How to Build a Kiln - Various Kiln Building Links
Tom Miles, July 3, 2007

Following are various links to making kilns for bricks, stoves and pottery.

Manny Hernandez, Potters for Peace,
Presentations to ETHOS Conferences, 2006 and 2007
How to Build a Kiln (5MB pdf) ETHOS 2006
Kiln Building in Africa and Honduras (4 MB pdf), Presentation to ETHOS 2007

Kilns and Brick Making, A rough Draft March 2006

Building a Small Flat-Top Kiln
Mel Jacobson and Kurt Wild, Pottery Making Illustrated March/April 2005
Kurt Wild's kiln 22.6 ft3

Nils Lou The Art of Firing
Linfield College, Oregon
Building a Minnesota Flat Top Kiln

Frederick L. Olsen, The Kiln Book : Materials, Specifications, And Construction, 2001, Third Edition, Krause Publications, Iola, WI.

Joe Finch, 2006. Kiln Construction: A Brick by Brick Approach.

Pyrometric Cone Chart Evenheat Kiln, Inc.

Kilns for stoves
Construction of a kiln for firing clay stoves IFSP Malawi on HEDON

Various wood Fired Kilns for Ceramics
The Kiln Book, Materials, Specifications and Construction by Frederick Olsen
- My Olsen Fast Fire Wood Kiln

Firing Guide: Wood Firing


Sidestoke Gasifier Kiln
Bourry Box or Hob firebox downdraft gasifier side stoker
Double Bourry Box Kiln
Fastfire Wood kiln vs Bourry Box
120 ft3 Bourry Box Kiln

A modification of the Bourry kiln can be found in:
Wood-fired Ceramics, Contemporary Practices, Coll Minogue and Robert Sanderson, 160 pages | 8.5 x 11 | 101 color, 118 b/w illus. Cloth 2000 | ISBN 978-0-8122-3514-2

World Bank to revolutionise brick making in India
The Hindu News Update Service July 28, 2006

New Delhi, July 28. (UNI): The World Bank will help Indian companies revolutionise brick making through a novel technology that would make kilns energy efficient and will be manufactured without the use of thermal energy.

Chaussures Homme J.M. Weston

Clean Development Clean Development Mechanism and Poverty Reduction
Developing a Regional Strategy for the CDM in Asia and the Pacific Region 30-31 March 2006 Bangkok

The Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln (VSBK) in Nicaragua (pdf 500k), Martin Melendez, Grupo Sofonias Nicaragua (July 2003)

Kilns and Brick Making, A Rough Draft (2.3 MB pdf), Ken Goyer, March, 2006

Ken Goyer has posted a 2.3 MB pdf document on the stoves site titled "Kilns and Brick Making, A Rough Draft". While it may be work in progress it illustrates a lot that we need to learn about brick making to accelerate stove construction. Many thanks to Ken.

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