March 25, 2011 - 12:49pm
Help Finding Clay or "Builders Mix" in Michigan
I've started building my outdoor bread oven from Denzer's "Build your own earth oven" book (the base has come along nicely!) but I didn't realize I was going to have such a hard time buying clay or a clay mix for the oven mix. I was hoping that digging on my property would turn up a decent mix, but it was all sand. I've called around landscape and brick suppliers and can't find any powered/dry clay or 'builders mix' that is specified in the book.
Can anyone point me in the right direction? I'd like to buy it locally (and would LOVE to buy it this weekend!). Even if you could point me in the right direction of what type of places would sell what I need, that would be great!
Do a google search for refractory suppliers in your area. I got stumped too, but at the brick mason supply outfit they directed me to a refractory supplier where they get their stuff. Turns out that in the metro area there were several refractory suppliers.
Also, if you call an outfit like Chicago Firebrick (google it) (thanks CJ), they can direct you to their closest dealer for similar inquiries.
Refractory! That's the keyword I needed. That helps alot, thanks!
Now the question is, what am I asking for? Will they have just the clay? Will they have 'builders mix'? I've tried to talk to a few landscape and brick people and they thought I was nuts.
What should I ask them for?
It seems that I'm getting closer....
One guy I called told me I wanted fireclay (is that right?). I'm assuming I mix that with sand, per the books instructions.
Anyway, for anyone in SE Michigan, it seems like Foundry Products may be an answer...waiting to hear back from them.
I would assume that fireclay is what you are looking for. I should be careful with that advice though, I've never read Kiko Denzer's book.
The Forno Bravo Forum is a good resource for wood fired oven builders. You'll be able to browse the site after registering. Important tid bits can be gleaned from the oven build posts.
When I built my oven I used fireclay from a pottery supply house and mixed in accordance with Kiko Denzer and a few other references on the internet. If you are building "purely Kiko Denzer" then follow his instructions. I used Lime, mortar cement and sand in some of my coatings. My oven differs, in that it was built of old used clay bricks with sand, lime and clay mortar. I then put on a layer of aluminum foil to separate the bricks from the cladding to prevent thermal expansion in the concrete if bonded to the bricks. I then put a 2" layer of concrete cladding followed by two 2" layers of insulation comprised of lime, clay, and perlite. I then plastered the exterior to protect the insulation followed by two coats of whitewash. It's a great oven, and although built at a modest price, it did take me the whole summer to build what with chopping a full cord of oak firewood. I built a structure over the oven to protect from the elements. Snow build up in Ontario can be significant.
If you need advice or clarification from Kiko, you can join the "Brick Oven" Group on Yahoo. He posts there frequntly and I'm sure he would be glad to answer any questions.
I'm still fairly certain that Fireclay is correct though.
I got confirmation that Foundtry Products sells 100# bags of fireclay (about $10 a piece). They have 200 mesh and 12 mesh. (these measurements are new to me too!) 200 mesh is VERY fine and 12 mesh is quite course.
I'm trying to decide which I'll buy..I may buy a bag of each so I don't have to go back and buy more. If you have thoughts on whether I should get course or fine clay, feel free to chime in!