Clay Brick Pavers for Oven Dome
Hello fellow oven builders.
Has anyone out there used clay brick pavers for the dome of the oven. Would it be a probem if I was to use them? The reason I ask is that I have plenty of these left over from my paving project. If these bricks are OK would it be OK to lay them long ways instead of having to cut them in half. I know this may not give me a nice circle.
Thanks for your help!!
Re: Clay Brick Pavers for Oven Dome
Congratulations for starting to build an oven. They are great fun to build and then to use!
Over the course of time, we have seen just about any material you can think of that has been successfully used to build a 'retained heat masonry oven". You could use the clay brick that you have to build an oven.
The however, in this case, is that the brick is likely to spall (flake away - spit clay bits into your food), and crack more than a fire brick. And depending on the actual brick material, may just plain fall apart in the heat of a wood fire. If you have any reason to think the material used to build your brick will work well in the heat of the wood fired oven, go ahead and use the left over brick.
If your circumstance allows, it may be easier to just buy the fire brick for the cooking chamber, and save money on other parts of the oven build. This is one of the choice you will have to make in the construction of your oven, but the basic trade - off is a question of longevity of the material.
A secondary issue is the ability of the material to retain heat. Various materials do a better job of holding and slowly releasing the heat absorbed from the wood fire. The low duty fire brick is known to do a good job. Other brick are known to pass the heat quickly, and this doesn't help the guy who wants to bake food (breads and roasts and stuff). The brick just can't hold the heat well.
Regarding the orientation of the brick in dome: Again, you can orient the brick to cover more area. Your oven will work. The however is: Your oven wall is now only 2 inches thick (assuming a brick size of 2" x 4" x 9"). If you follow the plans from the Forno Bravo Pompeii, your oven wall will be 4.5" thick, more than doubling the mass of the wall, and increasing the ability of the oven wall to hold heat. Again, really only important for baking projects.
So, a couple of opinions for your consideration.
Re: Clay Brick Pavers for Oven Dome
and I welcome you, another Aussie on board. James needs to get Forno Bravo (FB) down here soon as we seem to be experiencing a rush on new forum members!
Where abouts are you located here in Australia mate?
I am a firm believer in using fired clay pavers for the hearth but I haven't considered them for the dome construction.
How you orientate your pavers/bricks will depend on what you want your oven to do. If you only want to do pizzas, then the pavers cemented to be only 2" thick will allow your oven to heat quickly but not retain much heat when compared to a dome thickness of a traditional half brick of 4 1/2". If you want to bake bread or use the retained heat for baking roasts, etc, then you will need more thermal mass, ie. more material in your walls to absorb and to store that heat.
Another thing that I thought of is that if you use the pavers full length, the circle will not be as nice but you will have flat areas on your bricks/pavers that will hold soot/ash from your fire.
I personally would split your pavers lengthwise and cement them in place to enable a 4 1/2" dome thickness and a smoother inside dome.
Just be careful to ensure that your pavers are fired clay and NOT cement. I saw a neighbours oven and he built it ot of cement bricks which are totally unsuitable for an oven. He now needs to demolish it and start again!
Also, don't skimp on your insulation, the most vital characteristic that you can employ within your build.
You might also read Rusell Jeavons book "Your brick oven, building it and baking in it"
He has a pizza restaurant in the Southern vales of Adelaide and has 2 ovens used commercially built with common red clay house bricks and uses 2 layers of clay pavers for his hearth. See:
I hope this helps.
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