Red Clay Bricks
Substitute for firebricks can be old red clay solid bricks. In ovens these alternative red clay bricks will heat up, retain heat, cook, bake, roast, re-fire, absorb conduct store and hold the heat from wood fire and perform the same way as proper refractory firebricks do. If you can not locate fire bricks where you are or for any reason obtain them, Red Clay Bricks will perform much the same way in wood fire temperature levels and can be used instead.
How do I see it’s the right alternative for firebricks?
The replacement bricks must be of this type, old solids. Clay body is the same on the brick’s inside as it is on the outside. Break or cut one of the bricks you find in half to see what’s in the middle. New products are made out of cheap clay bodies whilst only on the outside a decorative clay slip is applied and then the bricks are fired in kiln – you couldn’t use bricks like that. The right alternate also shouldn’t be burnt, if you saw too much black-carbon color in the center don’t use such brick – it would be either over fired and brittle or made out of lesser quality clay. But a few little burnt spots will be fine. Working with red clay solid bricks is equivalent to work with refractory firebricks, all matters remain the same only bricks are different.
Where to find these old red solid bricks?
Look around in demolition yards for instance they often stock these red clay bricks. Read advertisements in papers, people very often sell for fraction of price or giveaway exactly this type of old bricks, and other great building material left over from other projects or from cleaning up. There are always few firebrick replacements to be seen here you just have to watch it. Bricks are old and in used condition with some chips and cracks, you can turn them with better side towards hot face, the oven inside. You can buy 200 to 1000 of red clay bricks even for 20 or 30 bucks in total and end up having a lucky day.
These reds have a great character in eyes of many including me. Often people wants to just get rid off them. Some sellers are obviously aware of the value and the beauty these red bricks have, and so they resell them with profits. By the way these old bricks can be easily cleaned with hammer and brush because in the past brickies didn’t add much cement into mortar if any, mostly lime was used those days.