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My brick oven & fireplace cook food and heat water

Dear Rado,
Greetings from the Philippines!

Thank you for helping me build my old fashioned brick oven. The CD you sent was very detailed. It clearly showed me not only how to properly build an oven. More importantly, it illustrated all the principles involved.

I used your CD’s and an American Masonry Book to build my own version of a brick oven atop my fireplace. Both feature inlaid pipes though which i pump water to heat it for bathing, washing, cooking, etc. We have been enjoying both for about three years now. Thank you for your very helpful CD. Now I am helping another friend build his masterly tail oven.

Oven and fireplace in Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm in Philippines.

On the pictures is my wife, Violaine.

As you will see on the photos, I improvised:

At the corner of The Bee Museum I built a brick fireplace.
Picture # 1 (2/22/07). I built a brick fireplace at the northwest corner of my bee museum with the help the American Masonry Association’s Handbook on Building fireplaces. My innovation was to put pipes in it to heat water.

On top of fireplace was built the brick oven.
Picture # 2. Then, I built my brick oven on top of it. I triple reinforced the flooring with a heavy steel plate, water pipes, steel reinforcement bars and refractory cement insulated with a layer of vermiculite.

I built a large dome proportional to the fireplace and bee museum.
Picture # 3. I built a large dome so it would be proportional to my fireplace and bee museum. All firebricks and mortar are SK-36.

Oven with triple brick arch design brick dome.
Picture # 4. I did a triple arch design, one reinforcing the other, to strengthen the face of the large oven.

Oven reinforcements used for the cladding.
Picture # 5. Here you can see some of the reinforcements used for the cladding. Notice the wall of white insulating bricks behind the bricks that make up the back of my oven. I wrapped the firebrick core with cladding, ceramic wool, vermiculite and insulating bricks. The pretty lady is my wife.

Finished cladding on the oven.
Picture # 5A. We just finished cladding. Note the pencil mark on the plywood template. We added an extra layer of vermiculite this thick. We also installed insulating brick on top of the vermiculite.

Ceramic blanket wool insulation.
Picture # 6. Here, you can see the finished cladding, ceramic wool insulation and water pipes. These pipes are connected in series to the fireplace water pipes.

First we fired up the fireplace.
Picture # 7 (9/4/07). First, we fired up the fireplace. Notice no smoke and good draft.

Then we then fired up the oven.
Picture # 8. We then fired up the oven. Note that both are smokeless and have very good drafts. They share a single chimney.

Meal from an old-fashioned brick oven
Picture # 9. We have enjoyed our old-fashioned brick oven & fireplace for three years with many close friends. This is a picture of a typical breakfast, the morning after. We have cooked everything in our brick oven: soups, stews, bread, fowl, pork, beef, lamb, overnight roasts and more.

The oven's wooden door caught fire and burned.
Picture # 10 (10/21/10). I think we overdid it. Left the door on overnight. The heat from the oven crept through a crack between the brick and heavy stainless steel flash-plate. Bypassed the ceramic wool insulation. And seared part of our door. I think we were doing about 1000F. While cooking the pizzas, I was not able to put my hand inside and used implements with very long handles. Good thing we made an extra door, see the last picture!

The ovens firewood storage.
Picture # 11. Firewood storage – Please read the description in the last paragraph.

Improper brick oven curing, too big drying fire.
Picture # 12. Improper brick oven curing. My son put all the small pieces of firewood that we had stored in our very big fireplace underneath, to break-in our oven as we shopped for crusts and toppings. Measured it with my laser thermometer rated at 1100F maximum. My thermometer could not read the temperature. It went off the scale! Good thing I overbuilt it.

Cooking in fireplace is also an art.
Picture ## 12A. Fireplace cooking is also an art. My wife stews with the help of her cast iron wok and a fireplace crane.

I am thinking of tapping our chimney and making a cold smoke cabinet. In your gallery, one person has already done it. To smoke fish, meats, cheeses and more!

Our bonus is: we have lots and lots of hot water (for bathing our smoke scented bodies) 3 to 4 days after we use our oven. For quick water heating, we use our fireplace. Moreover, because of the extra layers of insulation, we can cook in our oven 2 to 3 days after we use it, without any extra firing.

I cannot compliment you enough for your excellent work in helping people like me open up a new dimension of cooking, eating and sharing that we never could have imagined. It also helps that I planted 7 hectares of hardwoods 30 years ago. Each typhoon that passes contributes to our firewood stores – now for many years. See picture # 11 (10/22/10).

Name of oven: Ilog Maria brick oven & fireplace
Location: Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm, Silang, Cavite, Philippines
Coordinates: 14° 11.35N 120° 58.06E 1100 feet

Joel F. Magsaysay

Respond to the My brick oven & fireplace cook food and heat water article:

23 Comments - post your thoughts

  1. Hi Joel,
    You seem to be very clever. Very clever and skilled, what you achieved is quite amazing. And we like how you talk about your wife.

    By Rado

  2. i viewed the page. it’s great!


    i hope this helps other people like us discover yet another way to live in nature.

    yes, i cherish my wife and four children.

    By joel f. magsaysay

  3. Hi, Joel. I saw the progress of you oven when you started building it. I am truly amazed at the photo and to know that it is now functioning! I remember the time when I took my brothers and sisters to Ilog Maria in early 2008, you were just starting to build it. I will have to look for those pictures and send it to you. I am not sure if I took a shot of the brick oven.

    Congratulations! Have to try the pizza one day :-)

    By Ging Sison

  4. I would like to have my own brick oven in Korea.
    I want to learn basic principles of cooking in these type of ovens.

    By Julaino

  5. I want to build my own brick oven but I don’t know how to go about it.

    By Misori Ituka Dieudonne

  6. I live in the Philippines and am going to build an oven can you please tell me where to buy the firebricks and other materials needed? I live in Pampanga. Thanks

    By Mike

  7. I admire brick ovens, indeed I need somebody to build me one. Where can I found some good company to build my dream brick oven? Please respond, thanks.

    By Khalil Burbar

  8. Congratulations on a great combination fireplace waterheater and most of all the beautiful wood oven.

    We have just built a bread oven maybe bigger than yours with a barrel arch rather than the lower catenary arch.

    We currently have a problem with smoke and I think it is maybe our flue is not wide enough or the height of the arch is too high for the exit to the flue?

    Yours seems to have the exit for the flue down at floor level? From studying your photos carefully if this is the case you maybe rely on the updraught from the fire below to create a draw for the oven? Is this the case?

    Thanks for your help, your oven looks strong enough to withstand tsunamis and earthquakes and sons burning all your wood!

    Regards Laurie, Australia.

    By Laurie

  9. Hi Joel.

    Just finished reading your article, wow! That unit is beautiful and functional. I’m thinking about opening a bakery with my asawa in Santor Bongabon, Nueva Ecija which is close to Cabanatuan, Luzon.
    Question is, where can I find all of the materiel to built this oven? Any suggestions from anyone would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

    By Heinz Schirmaier

  10. Fantastic oven. You have integrated the hot water pipes which I am trying to integrate into the plan of ours. Any further tips on this? Please do tell :)

    Also, where is your chimneys draft point? Is it at the back?


    By George

  11. Dear All,

    Sorry for the late reply, so here goes:

    @ in the philippines, go to copengco for the bricks and asia pacific in san juan for the ceramic wool and vermiculite. Use google. I imagine there are more sources now.

    @ rado sent me a cd which has everything. I donated about US$37 and it arrived within 2 weeks. I studied. Took me about two years to learn, build and finish both fireplace and oven.

    @ flue is at the front but routed to meet the chimney at the rear. Catenary arch is best. Pay very close attention to the proportions, also height with respect to dome. Put an exhaust fan, as an easy solution, near the top of the chimney. Draw is a function of the arch, flue, chimney cross section, material and length to the top. Mine is 25 feet with a section of 16×16 inches, black iron. When everything heats up, no smoke. When there is fire in the fireplace, draw increases. But, you will have your hands full cooking and serving from both the oven and fireplace.

    @ i put my pipes on outside the ceramic wool. Steam is a concern since it is EXPLOSIVE. I put relief valves from the air brakes of trucks, before and after the oven. Be sure to use schedule 80 super heavy duty galvanized pipes. I sed a small recirculating pump (no head) to recirculate the water from the oven/fireplace to two huge insulated pressure tanks. With a flip of a valve, i use a booster pump (high head) to pump up three floors to my bathrooms.

    @ i recently built a modern kitchen at the back of my oven/fireplace to complement them.

    @ you gotta do it yourself. No other way. Even taught myself to cook pizza, bread, roast chicken, cochinillo or suckling pig, cast iron cooking, etc. thats the fun. Cheers!

    By Joel Magsaysay

  12. Hi Rado

    Thanks so much for that. I am a very patient person and an happy to wait for the DVD to come to WA. I find your work exceptionally interesting and love the world wide interest it rightfully draws. Having travelled to a few of the European countries, my respect of the beauty and variations in these ovens, and without a doubt the absolutely marvelous food that they help create has peaked to the point I can no longer live without one.

    If I did not have a hundred ideas before I found your sight I certainly do now. As this is a creation of passion it will take a while but be assured I feel it is going to be worth a picture for your site.

    Thank you for your help and inspiration.

    With respect

    By Lesley

  13. Joel Magsaysay,
    Would you allow me to share your innovative and expert construction of the brick oven and water heating system at a conference I am speaking at in July?
    I build brick ovens and will soon be building one for myself in a sunspace that has water heating capabilities.
    Thanks in advance,
    David Neufeld

    By David Neufeld

  14. My father was a baker. He sold the bakery when I was still young, when the grocery store in my village began to bring-in factory made bread in plastic bags that my father at once dreaded and feared. “How can people keep bread in the fridge?” he’d say. And how can it keep for weeks? That city bread didn’t have holes in it either! Well, now people understand why and want to return to REAL bread, crusty outside, tender inside, with no preservatives… To the wonderful smell of fresh bread coming out of the oven which you could smell all over my village every morning, but alas, the bakery has been turned into apartments and I can’t imagine what happened to the immense wood fired oven that used to occupy half the bakery’s footprint.

    As a little girl, I remember my father lifting me so Icould peer down into the oven’s bottomless cavity. I could never see the end of it… Just the boundless black hole that could bake 100 loaves of bread at once.

    My father made 300 loaves of bread a day in three batches, all mixed by hand on a thick wooden table that nearly occupied the other half of the bakery, save for a walking corridor all around it and a bit more room at the entrance. That table had to have been built on site. I think it must have been easily 10 feet wide by 20 or more long and woud be worth a fortune today.

    The oven was all brick. I remember it was fed with huge pieces of wood through an outside cavity at the back of the building while the oven itself had its door facing that massive table on the inside.

    My dad would get up every day around 3:30 am to fire-up the oven. He would then mix his dough and let it rise while the oven got warm. And when the last batch was done, the oven would remain wonderfully warm ’til diner time. My father thought that was such a waste that he invited the townsfolk to bring their slow cooking diners to bake during the afternoon in the otherwise lost heat of the oven, thereby providing a hub of congeniality and social interaction right there, in the tiny front entrance of his village bakery.

    I will never forget the bakery. I have always wished that I could rebuild it one day and give back to the town the bakery we lost to modernization.

    By Diane

  15. Mr joel, very interesting nmn po ang iniong multi functional fireplace oven. How can I acquire Rado’s cd or dvd and how much it will cost me?

    lorie javier-dionisio of san juan, batangas

    By Lorie

  16. […] My brick oven with fireplace for cook food and to heat water at the same time. Quick overview plus basic info about Fireplace. Fireplace is an architectural structure which was designed to contain a fire for heating, to create a pleasant, peaceful and vibrant atmosphere as well as for preparing meals. Fireplace with oven next to each other is very practical to have. […]

    Pingback Firplace cooking

  17. Chimney guys, I own a chimney company in Westlake Ohio and we build outdoor fireplaces and pizza ovens, I was impressed with your imagination and skills. Keep it up!


  18. I just had to say my part. There are good and bad everywhere in the world but Philippines people are very humane people dedicated to helping others. Rado you complimented him on the way he mentioned his wife. Well I have dealt with them in hospitals and two are with my mother which is 92 years of age. They are something to be proud of. Same goes with the great number that works at our main hospital in Toronto. You should be proud and good luck enjoy your oven. I like the idea of the pipes for the hot water. Ciao from Canada.

    By Bartolomeo Parete

  19. You came to the right place. Rado makes everything work easy just like a dream. I have never laid a brick in my life but with his pictures and guidance, it’s a pleasure working. Bart.

    By Bartolomeo Parete

  20. Diane It’s a wonderful story you just wrote and makes me want to go back to that style of living. I also worked and helped my older cousin in delivering bread. What a wonderful aroma at 4 o’clock in the morning when loading a truck with just out of the oven bread. To-days generation will never know what they are missing and we mourn. In those days in Canada we had home delivery of Milk and Bread and the milk some with a horse and buggy. The Good Old Days, although they were tougher but they were better.

    By Bart

  21. Does anyone have the material list to build this oven … or a cd with the plans? I’m 21 years old from New York and I really want to build this oven for bread. Thanks Anthony

    By Anthony

  22. My husband and I are planning to go back to the island of W Samoa and we want to build an oven for his village so they can prepare meals for the village school. We would greatly appreciate your feed back and help. Thank you
    Vicki Laititi

    By Vicki Laititi

  23. This is so cool … err hot. Congratulations. I have been wanting to build a firebrick oven similar to your design, a hybrid fire enclosure (the primitive type: bamboo for them pipes and lots of a mud for the dome, just can’t ignore them modern age when you coexist with it). The only thing that is making me think is if I run cold water through the pipes while water temperature is not warm enough to somewhat equalize with the dome temperature, I wonder if thermal shock is a big deal in the integrity of the dome in the long run especially at times when demand for hot water is higher? But I’m still planning to build me a primitive one in Burayoc if I can’t meet building costs. Thank you for the unselfish share of knowledge.

    By Homer

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