The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

how to choose fire clay for a bread oven dome

varda's picture
varda

how to choose fire clay for a bread oven dome

Last year I made a dome for my kiko denzer style bread oven using earth I dug up out of new garden areas.   I was able to bake all summer but ultimately there wasn't enough clay content and the dome slowly but surely crumbled.   This year, I would just like to bite the bullet and buy clay.   I found a local clay supplier but they sell dozens of varieties of clay and 7 that are labeled fire clay.   Before I call and start asking them questions, I would like to know what I should be looking for in a fire clay.   The supplier is called Portland Pottery.   Their fire clays are named Goldart, Hawthorne 40 mesh,  Hawthorne 50 mesh, Lincoln fire clay, Pyrax, Pyrotrol, XX Sagger.   Also, in their pictures, it looks like they are selling clay in big sacks, which makes it look like the clays are dry.   That seems good to me, since I will need to mix it up with sand and water and starting with dry clay seems like it would be easier.   Is anyone familiar with these clays and/or have any experience building a dome starting with dry clay?   Thanks so much.  -Varda

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Here's a useful discussion of fireclay for home ovens, written in Rado's inimitable style:

http://www.traditionaloven.com/articles/101/what-is-fire-clay-and-where-to-get-it

Assuming that you goal is a basic low-tech mud oven rather than a built-for-the-ages engineered oven system, I would personally go with either the cheapest (since the odds are any commercially processed and graded fireclay will perform better than any randomly dug backyard clay, yet per Mr. Dozier backyard clays generally work fine) or the Hawthorne product that is in-stock (because some of my neighbors probably work at that company).  

sPh

 

varda's picture
varda

Yes, I'm not building one for the ages, but I would like it to last longer than last year's model.   And I am looking at the website of Portland Pottery in Braintree.  My neighbor who is a sculptor recommended them.    After posting on this site, I saw a recommendation to the Yahoo group Brick Ovens.    So I joined that, and immediately got a referral to the Hawthorne 40 product.  I guess that's the standard for fire clay.  Thanks for the link to the article.   I'll take a look.