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  #91  
Old 01-28-2013, 01:52 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Pacific Northwest
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Default Blue clay homebrew mortar

OK... I have my floor design figured out and it will only require splitting 4 bricks so I am happy with that... as soon as the rain stops I am going to place the bricks for the floor... I am assuming just about 1/2 inch of superfine beach sand under the bricks will be sufficient for leveling.

Now I am wondering about mortar... there are several recipes out there but they appear to be variations on a theme and the proportions are similar so I am assuming that absolute precision is not critical. BUT I am wondering about the fireclay... some posts are referring to brickdust as fireclay ( does this mean I an take a big hammer to some old bricks and I have fireclay? )... some say it is unfired powdered clay... some are using the term fireclay for what is actually grog... so I thought why not jump in with my own idea...

There is a vein of beautiful pure blue clay near my house... can I just take a couple of buckets of that... dry it, pulverize it, screen it and use it in my mortar mix... it is clay and clay is really just mud.

Laurentius... You may be the only one still hanging in to see how this all turns out so what do you think?

Cheers Annie... gone to dig clay
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  #92  
Old 01-28-2013, 02:13 PM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Hi Annie,

I'm here with you until the bitter end! I want to be here when you pull that first loaf of bread out of your oven and yell, "Hot dog, I did it", only to become obsessed in the pursuit of the perfect loaf. I have my reasons, I want others to suffer as I have suffered! No, really , I think that you will use your oven more that most and be very happy with it by building it right. As for the clay mix some and give it a test run.
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  #93  
Old 01-28-2013, 02:16 PM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Blue clay is usually bentonite. Are you in a volcanic area?
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  #94  
Old 01-28-2013, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

No plumes of sparks in the sky at night or lava on the lawn so nothing active!

I am not certain about the geology of this area, although, there were several large brickworks near by at the turn of the century... my red bricks are actually from one of these. I think it is most likely that the clay I am going to test... (just for fun... unless it works then I'm using it!) is a glacial clay or perhaps a marine clay from the bottom of the sea... I am on the coast of Vancouver Island.

The clay has a fine feel and is nice and sticky... and the beach sand I want to use is extremely fine... so I'll try with that... I just like the idea of using things from my own landscape... my oven won't be sophisticated but it will be a little piece of this place.

Cheers Annie
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  #95  
Old 01-28-2013, 05:57 PM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Tscarborough,
I am familuar with the term bentonite. It is what we called "jell" in the oil patch some years ago. Over here in SE Mississppi, we have varied colors of clay. One of which is a light colored blue. Most are red to a pink color. The blue clay that we have is not very close to the dark color of bentonite. I was just wondering if what Annie M. is referring to is close to what we have.
Before I started my build, this type clay was going to be my "go to" for a earthen/cob type oven. Do you think that it would have been acceptable?
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  #96  
Old 01-28-2013, 06:38 PM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Depends. If it is volcanic in origin, yes, if not probably not for the same reasons you used it in the oilfield.
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  #97  
Old 01-28-2013, 06:53 PM
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Default Volcano Island

Well, it turns out that the Island was once a chain of volcanoes that collided with the mainland later the area was glaciated so... most likely volcanic in origin.

Wondering how this effects the quality of the clay for ovens and mortars... could you elaborate?

Thanks, Annie
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  #98  
Old 01-28-2013, 08:21 PM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Some types of bentonite swell when wet, they are used to line ponds and in the oilfield for that reason (That is not the only reason they are used in drilling mud though). Volcanic bentonite (K-bentonite) doesn't as much, so it should fine fine as far as I know.
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  #99  
Old 01-29-2013, 12:05 AM
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Default Re: Rustic Primitive Materials

Gudday Annie
The "home brew " mix has
Sand... The aggregate, the matrix ,all the other parts fill the spaces inbetween the grains
Portland cement ....the "glue " that sets first and holds the show together till the temps of your oven destroys it
Hydrated lime.....the higher temp "glue" that takes over from the Portland getting stronger in the heat
The clay..... Makes the mortar stick better to the brick, let's you squish the brick down if its to high. Slid the brick a bit when not perfect without it the mortar will come away from the brick. It's the part that allows " masonry inpaired" folk like myself to build a 1/2 reasonable oven.
By the way wash that beach sand to remove the salt it weakens mortar and concrete

Regards Dave
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Last edited by cobblerdave; 01-29-2013 at 12:09 AM. Reason: Spelling
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  #100  
Old 01-29-2013, 08:13 AM
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Default 3:1:1:1

Perfect thanks!!

I have washed and dried the beach sand for beneath the oven floor and will only use clean sand for the mortar... Tscarborough had mentioned the issues with salt... I listened. I just can't bring myself to buy sand... the beach is full of it... beautiful fine sand.

No rain this morning... time to work on the oven.

Best, Annie
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