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Why "Fire Brick?" - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Why "Fire Brick?"

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  • Why "Fire Brick?"

    Is a pizza oven really going to melt regular bricks?
    Do "firebricks" hold and release heat differently than "normal" bricks?

  • #2
    Re: Why "Fire Brick?"

    Because the effort of building it is worth the added expense of using them. You can build an oven out of mud and it will work....for a while.


    • #3
      Re: Why "Fire Brick?"

      Originally posted by Tscarborough View Post
      Because the effort of building it is worth the added expense of using them. You can build an oven out of mud and it will work....for a while.
      Let me rephrase.
      How is it different than regular brick?
      I know it has more aluminium oxide than regular bricks, but how does that change their physical properties?


      • #4
        Re: Why "Fire Brick?"

        Firebrick are more stable from a thermal standpoint. They are pressed, not extruded, solid not cored, and they have a different chemical composition than common brick. Common brick can take the heat on their face, but the thermal shocks of the rapid heating and cooling are what usually cause them to fail.


        • #5
          Re: Why "Fire Brick?"

          For the hearth particularly, firebricks are much smoother than regular bricks. For the dome, the firebricks are less likely to spall or flake after repeated heating cooling cycles.

          You probably could build the dome out of regular bricks, but as Tscar said, if you are going to all that work, spend a few extra bucks on the firebrick and you will never get brick flakes on your pizza.

          My Oven Thread:


          • #6
            Re: Why "Fire Brick?"

            Common bricks don't heat cycle as well as firebrick. The temperature differential between the hotter face of the brick and the cooler back causes common brick to chip (spall) and crack.

            The higher alumina/silica ratio in firebrick let them hold and release heat better.

            Also, in the US, firebricks are only a little more expensive than solid red bricks (pavers) There's really no reason not to use them.

            Here's an anecdote on this subject from rumford.com:

            You might have noticed the red brick firebox. It's regular solid facebrick (no cores) laid in regular Portland cement mortar. They didn't have firebrick in 1760 and my customer didn't like that "ugly yellow firebrick". I told him facebrick couldn't take the thermal shock and would crack and spall, but I couldn't convince him. A year after I built the fireplace he called to tell me how much he enjoyed the fireplace and oven. He said five of the brick in the fireback had cracked and the face had spalled off another one. "It's great", he said. "The fireplace is only a year old and it already looks as if it's 200 years old." Another sort of customer would have had me back out to replace brick six times.
            This said, if you have no budget, and a pile of common brick, it's better to have a chipped oven than none at all. It's better to spend slim resources on insulation rather than the perfect brick.
            My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


            • #7
              Re: Why "Fire Brick?"


              Forno Brava have a good chapter covering this topic fully. Here is the link

              Brick Oven Design | Choose the Right Brick Oven Brick

              I built my wood-oven purely out of reclaimed full clay bricks (taken from my ci. 1900 house after removing a wall inbetween my kitchen and dining room. It was more a case being broke and re-using all the debris from my house renovation and an urge to attemt to build a wood-oven on a shoestring.I've only fired mine once with any conviction (about 1/2 hour full-fire) so can't tell you if the project is a full success using normal clay bricks until I give it the full gothem city firing.

              Best of luck with your project

              Terry (C.F)
              Honi soit qui mal y pense

              My 2nd Pompeii build.....



              • #8
                Re: Why "Fire Brick?"

                100 year old "commons" (solid, usually pressed) have more in common with firebrick than do modern facebrick. As a rule, used commons should work pretty well, but they are not cheap either.