Here’s something that’s been in my thoughts lately… how do you make homemade bricks? Like, the kind that the pioneers would have made for their chimneys. The kind that make up the old chimney which stands in our woods. I’d love to build some front steps, and boarder flower beds with bricks, but I definitely can’t afford the expense of buying them new! If I could make my own, that would be so cool.
I’ve been reading over countless tutorials, and searching through my books to find more info on how making bricks from clay is done. Here’s what I’ve put together:
1.You need to get the sandy soil-to-clay content right. The mixture should be 1/3rd clay, and 2/3rds sandy soil. Three good soil compositions for making bricks are: loamy sand, sandy loam, and sandy clay loam (if you know how to tell which yours is). One way to test this proportion in your soil is to put a handful of soil in a glass of clean water. Stir it up good, then let it settle overnight. In the morning, you should have separate layers: one of clay, and one of sand. By these layers you will be able to see what percentage of each your soil is made up of, and whether you may need to add more sand. Any organic matter will float. You do not want soil rich in organic matter.
2. Make a wooden mold to form your bricks. Size and shape depends on your preference and what it will be used for, though it does need a thickness of at least 4″. A mold which will hold multiple bricks can also be made.
3. Carry the soil mixture to a flat, sunny spot for processing and drying. It is important that you begin your brick making during a dry season, as it takes several weeks for the bricks to cure completely and the rain will turn them back into mud.
Mix enough water with the clay to form a dough consistency. It should not stick to your hands when handled, it should hold its form when shaped, yet still be liquid enough to fill a mold. It may help to crumble a small amount of dried straw into the wet soil, and mix it in well.
4. Press the loaf of clay into the mold, making sure to fill the corners well. Using a straight board, scrape the excess clay off of the top so as to leave a smooth surface on the brick. Allow the brick to sit for about half an hour, then remove it from the mold to continue drying. It should just slip out easily. It is good to cover the drying area with sand or straw so that the bricks do not stick and harden to the ground they are drying on.
5. Rotate the sun drying bricks every day, for at least three weeks, until thoroughly hardened. When the edges turn white, turn them up on their sides to completely dry. Protect them from any moisture.
*Now, I haven’t tried this yet, and I usually try not to post on things I haven’t done first hand, but I wanted to write this one for my own future reference, and so that you could have the info handy as well.
If any of you have ever made homemade bricks, or have any advice to share or corrections to make, I’d love to know what you think!
Homeschoolers: This would make an excellent project for the kids to do as a lesson!!