Build your own (outdoor) brick oven : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From the October 1979 Organic Gardening

Abbreviated and summarized.

". . . In a brick oven, food is cooked by heat that is stored in the bricks. Cooking starts with building a substantial fire in the oven with hardwood. When the bricks reach a temperature of about 700 degrees F, the fire, coals and ashes are removed. Food is then cooked by the heat in the bricks. I've found my oven will hold temperatures for four hours at 350-375 degrees F, three additional hours at 300 degrees, and two more hours at 250-200 degrees.

After putting out the fire, remove the coals and ashes, and sweep the oven floor clean. Allow the door to remain open to cool the oven down to about 300 degfrees. Close the door and in ten minutes the temperature should be up to 400 degrees--and you're ready for cooking."

To build: Pour a concrete slab, shaped in half-circle, with dia of 6.5 feet. Slab should be 18" above ground level and extend below frost line. Author's was made 30" below ground level.

Once slab has cured, stack bricks on it in half-circle shape using no mortar. Author's bricks measured 2x2x10 inches, flat fire bricks. Better than regular bricks, but use those if you have to.

Author's oven measured 5' across, 44" deep on the outside, and 30x22" inside. Stack bricks in beehive shape. Try to make walls as thick and solid as possioble--this provides thermal mass that stores heat to cook food. The more bricks, the more the oven will hold an even temp.

Leave opening in top, about size of coffee can to serve as draft vent. Door opening should be about 2' or big enough to put in roast. Metal door is suggested. With door in place, continue to stack bricks. Place coffee can in chimney opening left in top and cement in place. Cover with smooth coat of cement, working into chinks, forming beehive shape.

Allow to cure 4-5 days. Water with hose occasionally to prevent cracking. After curing, apply sealed coast of white cement or mortar--mix to soupy consistency and apply with large paintbrush. Will seal and give even white color.

Allow a few more days to cure. Can also be used as smoker.

End of typing job.

A search on the Web wioll probably reveal many variations on this theme.

-- Old Git (, April 16, 1999


Old Git - I didn't discover Organic Gardening magazine until 1991, and it hasn't been the same since Mike McGrath was fired. Really appreciate your entries.

-- Brooks (, April 16, 1999.

Cool. (Or "hot").

Was wondering. Thanks, Old Git.


-- Diane J. Squire (, April 16, 1999.

Hey Old Git...

Can you expand a little on how the metal door is attached...does the ferro cement keep it all in place and the door secure?...are the metal hinges of the door attached directly to the fire brick...does the weight of the bricks keep the door secure?

Thanks...I would really like to build an outdoor oven so as to keep the house cooler from the heat of the Texas summer.

Texas Terri

-- Texas Terri (, April 16, 1999.

In our area we have a restored Hudson's Bay Company outpost, complete with demonstrations of brick oven cooking. Here are a couple of tips they point out:

1. After all the ashes have been swept out, slap a wet rag around on the bottom of the oven. It will generate a cloudburst of steam that will carry the remaining ash dust up the chimney, so that bread dough can actually be placed on the bricks and stay clean.

2. Since pioneers didn't have oven thermometers, they used the following test to check for approximately 400 degrees: stick your hand in the oven (after cleaning out the ashes), and count off 10 seconds. If you can't hold your hand in there that long, the temperature is higher than 400 degrees, and bread would burn; if you still aren't feeling much pain, the temperature is probably too far below 400 to bake bread properly, and you need to rebuild the fire for a little longer.

I always find it interesting how much practical information our great grandparents had.

-- Dan Hunt (, April 16, 1999.


Nice info, but where is 'here' - you can put in plug the restored trading company, could be of interest to some on the forum.


Aw come on, the Organic Home and Gardens lady is sooooo nice...(she would never include the imfamous woodchuck picture)... warm fuzzies and all that stuff. The info is still good, the editorial just lacks character, pazaz, humor, or controversy... And one thing you can say about Mike, he was a character. But I still have my subscription and recommend it.


-- john hebert (, April 16, 1999.

Old Git..

I'm curious about the mention of the oven temp reaching 700 degrees.

Is this actually possible or is it perhaps a typo. Just going on the knowledge that wood/paper burns at 451 degrees. Once burning, does it in fact increase the temperature to such a level?

We're *still* looking for an easy means to reach the 1000 degree mark so we can make our own activated charcoal. We haven't gotten any answers on any method, much less an easy one.

The only thought I have is that it will probably require a blower to get it up that high. Any ideas?



-- Floyd Baker (, April 17, 1999.

What temp do kilns get to, does anyone know? My husband's been bugging me to get one for eons, so he can work with clay (and lucky for him, if Y2K sucks, half our backyard is clay). Do they reach 1000 degrees? If so, could one make 'activated charcoal' in them to use in -- er -- was it water treatment?

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, April 17, 1999.

Actually, Mike's puns got a bit wearing but I thought it was a great magazine. Yes, I do remember the infamous picture of the woodchuck's coat stretched out to dry. Seemed like a helluva non sequitur in the midst of all those tips to repel varmints without harm. Haven't bought an OG for a while, no particular reason.

Door - As I recall, the metal door and frame were bought as a unit and the frame cemented in. We have a metal door on the back (outside) of our chimney, which connects to a trapdoor in the hearth, so that ashes can be raked down and emptied conveniently outside. So I guess I would look for one of those.

Don't know nuthin' about kilns except they get REAL hot. But there ought to be a means of making one because pottery was being made before electricity or gas or any mechanical stuff.

Charcoal: I know England lost a good part of her hardwood forests to charcoal-makers. (The charcoal was used in the glass-making process.) I believe that was in the 1700s, early 1800s, so there MUST be a way to make charcoal without conventional means.

The 700 degrees was not a typo, but I don't blame you for checking because I AM an

-- Addled Old Git Sometimes (, April 17, 1999.

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