Clay is a widely available material that’s easy to obtain and inexpensive to use compared to other building materials. Builders use clay formed into bricks to create large stable structures that last for years in any climate. The process of making clay bricks requires more than forming the clay into uniform rectangles. To make bricks strong enough to use for building, you must bake the clay. The baking process hardens the bricks so that they don’t crack or crumble with use and turns soft clay into a hard, buildable material.
Things You'll Need
- Clay-rich soil
- Masonry sand
- Brick molds
- Brick oven or kiln
- Heavy-duty heat-resistant gloves
- Fireproof surface
Locate a deposit of soil with high clay content and test it for suitability for creating bricks. Take a handful of the soil and add water until it’s slightly sticky and malleable. Press the soil into a ball and place in a flat space in direct sunlight. Leave it under the sun for two to four days until it dries out. Check the ball for cracks or crumbling. If it maintained its shape and firmness, the clay content is high enough for use.
Use a spade to dig up enough clay to make the bricks you need. The amount is a matter of trial and error; the clay content of the soil has a direct bearing on the amount of total soil needed to make each brick.
Pile the clay soil onto a flat surface in the open and leave for two months, allowing the sun and rain to work on the material, disintegrating it into clay sand.
Combine the clay sand with masonry sand in a wheelbarrow, using the ratio of one part masonry sand to 10 parts clay sand. Add water to the mix in the ratio of one part water to four parts dry mix. Knead the mixture well for about three hours until you have a smooth, workable clay.
Set brick molds on a flat surface in an enclosed and covered room, and then fill the molds with the mixed clay to the top of the rims. Scrape the top of the molds with a trowel to create a flat surface. Remove the molds from the formed bricks, and allow the bricks to dry for four weeks.
Preheat a brick oven or kiln to 980 degrees centigrade for two hours. Turn the bricks over, and then place them in the heated oven. Bake for 16 hours. Remove the bricks from the oven using tongs while wearing heavy-duty heat-resistant gloves. Place bricks on a fireproof surface, and allow them to cool overnight before using them to build.