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when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

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  • when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

    bricks bricks bricks ???

    Ok, so i called the local brickmaker, and they told me they made fire bricks. They also called them "cream smooths" the sales lady also mentioned THIS WEBSITE and thats what they have sold to otheers. So i thought i was onto a good thing at about $1 each for new fire bricks.

    They told me the local display center near me had some so i went there for a look.

    When i asked the guy on the counter "can i see your firebricks please" he looked at me a little strange ?? "we don't do them" was the commment. I then mentioned that the head office also called them "cream smooths".

    "oh, we have heaps of those" was the next response, so i go with him for a look and they just look like house bricks to me. i ask what makes them "fire bricks" and he tells me that they use a hotter bake on these cream smooths.

    so what do you think ??? i am not sure if they are right and they did not seem ot have a spec sheet for them ??

    i also rang the local second hand brick company, he tells me that they have some so i also went there for a look he's got 7000 from a old china making factory that got demolished. they are a light creamy yellow looking thing and he told me he has sold 6000 before to a guy making ovens

    anyone Know a way to identify an "old" fire brick ?? they are not burned looking or anything but they do look different form commom "old" reds or new house bricks. as they had a very smooth looking mix or texture compared to most "new" bricks

    and do you think that these may be "heavy duty" fire bricks and not what i want??

    any help would be appreciated


  • #2
    Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

    there are some good "stickies" in the Oven management forum around heat etc. as well

    Ok, seeing the Maheel is from Oz as well I will try and add in the "southern" feel to this discussion. I did some research when planning my oven and came to this conclusion (the more experienced masonry people among us please guide me if I'm off the mark). I would classify "clay bricks" into 3 main areas(so lets exclude concrete based bricks, pavers, besser blocks and hebel):'

    1. Standard House bricks - this would be a normal brick shape with the 3 standard cores(holes) through them, some have more holes of smaller diameters. Definitely no good in a brick oven due to the holes and its often a more brittle brick today.

    2. Solid Bricks - so still a "house brick" yet no holes. Often called "pressed reds" in Australia - in reality they aren't all red in colour. A kiln guy once told me the colour is to do with the clay used and more importantly the temperature it is fired to/at. Its possible to use these in a brick oven (as I have). However it depends on the quality - Australian ones seem to be pretty good and suffer less issues around spalling than possibly our northern cousins. The ultimate is to use the next (#3).
    My bet is the "cream smooths" you mentioned fall into this category.

    3 - Firebrick, Refractory bricks or Kiln bricks (as most call them in Australia) - These are usually a solid brick that has a particular Alumina content(among other additional materials). Often they are broadly classified (In Australia) as Low, Medium or High duty. You select the duty according to the application. High duty would be for specific industrial kiln applications (often where molten metal is used or ceramic, so therefore much higher temperatures). Whereas low or medium duty are more appropriate for food ovens.

    There are also "insulating" fire bricks. You don't want these because your brick oven interior needs to soak up the heat and then reflect that heat back into your food being cooked.......Insulating bricks wouldn't "hold"(soak up) the heat it would reflect it, often they are much lighter and reasonably porous.......Keep the insulation to the outside of the oven dome.

    How do you identify them, well I usually take it to my brickie mate and he can tell......however what I do know is:

    Type 1 is easy to tell

    Type 2 is harder(especially if you buy second hand) but often breaking it open with a hammer gives an indication of its strength and stucture.......bear in mind this is not the ideal brick to more on that if you want....later

    Type 3 - If buying new ring the brick maker (not always the supplier) and ask what duty/content....chances are someone on here can help from there.
    If buying second hand often I look for markings and then go from there (eg. use this forum or a local mason/brickie).
    Often they have a sharp edge (not rounded for appearance) and a more dense (usually heavier)

    and if its really might even find them on here:
    94/48/2 Bricks (2), sand/cement, Ron Whitham, Sydney, Australia, 1952-1960 - Powerhouse Museum Collection
    ...more of a joke

    We have a local brickmaker in Adelaide and they sell firebricks but I've found they are too brittle and don't seem to get fired at high enough temps. Most decent firebrick(new) seems to come from Consolidated Refactories or Darley

    Build #1

    Build #2 (Current)


    • #3
      Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

      Hi - yes! another Aussie. I'm a newbie about to embark on my first Oven project, and have been looking at second-hand bricks for my base (I'm putting the "clayworks" basic dome on top1.

      The bricks I have been offered came from an industrial furnace, they are 300mm x 150mm x 75mm (12"x6"x3") and are HEAVY.

      One side is obviously pretty pitted and black - but I've just had a wirebrush onto the other surfaces and they come up pretty well. I've had it in a domestic oven at 250C for an hour - hoping to see if it hold heat.

      As they are second hand, there are obviously some chips and pits, Question: for the oven base, how important is it to have "perfect" bricks, or do all the edges end up chipping a bit?

      Thanks.. Chris


      • #4
        Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

        Just a little more detail following my experiment with the brick in our home oven! As above 12" x 6" x 3" weighs 15 lbs - I'm told they are from an industrial furnace.

        I left the kiln brick in the oven for 3 hours at 250C. After 30 minute out of the oven the brick was still to hot to touch (even with the back of my hand) - droplets of water hissed, and marshmellows melted. after 90 minutes - still to hot to hold with bare hands.



        • #5
          Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

          Now look, I'm no boy genius, but I know that brand new firebricks at retail can be had for less than a dollar in the US, and no doubt for considerably less if you buy a truckload from the manufacturer. I know that ocean shipping at the container level is close to free: That's what all that Chinese junk is doing here. Why don't you Aussies form a buying club? The US dollar is close to worthless now, (speaking of boy geniuses) so the odds are even more in your favor.
          My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


          • #6
            Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

            Hi guys, im new to this forum but have been reading a fair bit as im a passionate cook and love cooking in wood ovens. Me and my dad are in the process of building an oven at the moment (when its finished ill do a story on it). My dad is also a bricklayer which helps.

            Now the holes you find in bricks im assuming you mean they are commons (they usually use them for rendered/baged houses).

            The second kind are face bricks which if you intend on having a brick finish.

            Now there are many kinds of fire bricks including insulated (we are using them to sit onto of the concrete slab) then refactory tiles ontop (which is our base and is basically a big fire brick where they use them for commercial ovens) and finally on the dome we are using dry pressed bricks which has no holes so it retains the heat.

            Ill give more details on when i put my story up but thats just some of the bricks you can purchase and use. Many people have many methods but we have seen this method/combo used and its effective in cooking many different meals.

            Hope this helps



            • #7
              Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

              i dont have that much experience, but a bricklayer told me a while back that if you look for "soft bricks" rather than "hard bricks" then everything should be fine..

              though that was in the context of building a public community oven, built with donations and basically for around 300$



              • #8
                Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

                Sometime the local potters will know a source.

                This is a good group to talk to - they also deal with high heat ovens and whould know the difference between ordinary brick, refractory brick and insulating brick.

                I gotsome of my bricks from an old pottery kiln that was being dismantled.


                • #9
                  Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

                  Firebricks for a dollar? I wish! Here in my part of Australia the only supplier of firebricks is a stove retailer, and they have firebricks for $7 each! Impossibly expensive for a whole WFO so I used these expensive firebricks for the cooking hearth - they are heavy and have beautiful edges so makes a nice flat surface to cook on. Then I got a whole lot of what are called "solid commons", second hand, red bricks that have been fired at a fair heat and those I used for the dome. Had my very first test firing today and it lit up nicely and with a small fire only (no insulation on the outside of the dome as yet, so it is not really finished) - got hot enough after an hour or so to put in a big pot of oxtail, which is cooking slowly right now! I am stoked! Can hardly wait to put the finishing touches on and start cooking pizza!!!


                  • #10
                    Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

                    Fire bricks are fired at higher temps and are made using refractory clays. We sell them for $3:50 each here in Melbourne.


                    • #11
                      Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

                      Thanks Johnny. I have already used the solid reds instead - but will bear it in mind next time! (I live in Albury by the way - not too far from Melbourne).


                      • #12
                        Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

                        Johnny The Oven Man

                        With all respect mate - "who exactly are we" Are you a commercial enterprise in downtown Mulgrave or something more on the hobby side of the equation?

                        Either way I am more of a look and see person, so exactly where are you?



                        • #13
                          Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

                          Refractory Supplies P/L. Located @ 4/8 moncrief Rd Nunawading phone: 0451470371
                          Large wharehouse of assorted refractory products.
                          Last edited by Johnny the oven man; 06-20-2012, 05:31 PM.


                          • #14
                            Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

                            $1.25 here, and that's overpriced.

                            dmun's kidding of course. He is a boy genius, but just humble.
                            Everyone makes mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes when nobody is looking.



                            • #15
                              Re: when is a brick a brick or a fire brick ???

                              Can I ask do heavy duty firebricks take a lot longer to heat up? I have been told by a UK supplier that they are suitable for a Pizza oven but reading the above Im not sure if I should ask for a lighter brick.