How to Make Bricks From Wood Ashes

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You can create your own bricks for your building project.
You can create your own bricks for your building project. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Brick making is an ancient occupation that has stood the test of time. Many ancient cultures made their homes from bricks and builders and contractors of today still use enduring bricks for building structures. Although bricks are readily available, you can also make your own. Bricks made from wood ashes are typically lightweight yet compact after firing. You can create these bricks using clay-rich dirt and wood ashes.

Things You'll Need

  • Large barrel, between 5- and 10-gallon volume
  • Clay rich dirt
  • Paddle mixture
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Wooden frame
  • ½-inch aviary wire
  • Wood nails
  • Hammer
  • Fly screen
  • 2-gallon bucket
  • Wood ash
  • Rice hulls
  • Brick molds
  • Oven

Pour five to 10 gallons of water into a large barrel.

Add sufficient clay-rich dirt to the barrel to create a mixture with a thin pudding-like consistency. Add the water first, or the dirt will stick to the side of the barrel and make it more difficult to create the correct mixture and consistency.

Mix the dirt into the water with a paddle mixer to form a clay slip. Leave the mixture overnight. This mixture will likely contain both roots and rocks, but this is not a problem at this stage.

Position a wheelbarrow next to the large barrel and source a wooden frame that is large enough to cover a wheelbarrow basin. Place a ½-inch aviary wire over a wooden frame and nail the wire in place. Lay a piece of metal fly screen on top of the aviary wire and nail in place, using wood nails. The ½-inch aviary wire is used to hold up the finer fly screen.

Mix the clay slip once again and check its consistency. A very watery mixture is not suitable for making bricks, while a consistency that is too thick will not go through the screen you have just made.

Use a 2-gallon bucket to remove the clay slip from the barrel. Pour this slip onto the fly screen sieve and use your hands to work it through the screen. Remove large pieces of roots or tiny pebbles and other organic debris. Hold the edges of the screen in both hands and bump it against the edge of the wheelbarrow basin to force the clay slip through the fly screen.

Remove the screen after the first and subsequent buckets have been put through the screen.

Add wood ashes to the slip at this stage. Use sufficient amounts of ash to give you a sticky consistency.

Use the 2-gallon bucket to transfer the new mix to brick molds.

Leave the bricks until they are completely dry. This may take a few days.

Fire the bricks in a mud insulated kiln for about two hours, at a temperature between 2300 and 2500 degrees F. A square kiln, which has a high volume to surface area, is more efficient than a rectangular kiln.

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