May 25th 2021
If you've got a bit of time on your hands and not going very far for your holidays this year, you may want to do something outdoors.
Building a pizza oven is a niche but achievable DIY project.
They can be the star of the show at parties or when entertaining the children.
Get the dough out, put on your toppings and cook some rustic, homemade pizzas. But first, you've got to build it.
And you might be wondering; can you use normal clay bricks? Or do you need a special kind of brick to build the walls of your oven?
We've got the answer here.
The information below is also applicable to building an outdoor fire pit so if that's more up your street, read on anyway.
The short answer to the question is you can use traditional clay bricks to build a pizza oven.
They'll do the job and if you're only going to be using it a few times a year, it makes sense to go down this route.
You could even use reclaimed bricks or bricks you've taken from a structure you're demolishing. This may be a good way to use them.
However, if you want to build an oven that really lasts, and is slightly more efficient too, you'll want to use fire bricks.
You certainly don't want to use concrete bricks and we'll explain why below.
First though let's look at fire bricks and clay bricks as an option.
For the best pizza oven, you want to look at using fire bricks, so called because they are constructed to withstand high levels of heat.
These are used in fireplaces (although not that common anymore), industrial furnaces and any other brick structures that come into regular contact with fire.
What makes them different is their composition. Bricks are generally a mix of silica and alumina plus a small number of other oxides and minerals.
In fire bricks the proportion of silica is higher than in normal clay brick (around 73%) and the proportion of alumina is lower (around 23%).
They generally come out as a dense white brick during the firing process although other colours can be added during manufacturing.
The main downside to using these: They're a lot more expensive.
Yes. These solid bricks with low porosity can withstand temperatures of up to 980°C.
This means the surface and integrity of the brick won't be affected by a high amount of heat from burning fuel.
Not only this but they also have lower thermal conductivity. This means they insulate better, are more energy efficient and therefore will allow the oven to heat up much quicker.
Whether you've got a load of spare bricks lying around or you're on more of a budget to make your oven, using clay bricks is going to be preferable for a lot of people.
We mentioned composition above. For clay bricks the proportions of silica and alumina are more balanced. You have 55% silica and 30% alumina. The oxides are also slightly different and less metallic.
This is obviously the much cheaper option and may be a good use of reclaimed bricks but they certainly won't last as long. It partly comes down to how much you think it is going to be used.
Clay bricks will stand the heat but will begin to break down at around 650°C.
The important thing to remember is it's not just how they react to heat in each instance but how well the brick fairs over numerous uses. Bricks will absorb a large amount of heat energy and then cool down slowly. It's during this cooling process that cracks and flaking may occur.
Over time the bricks will begin to flake or spall, so you need to be aware of this. If you are using clay bricks, it's a good idea to make sure they are solid as opposed to hollow as this will make them a lot more vulnerable.
You may not have spare clay bricks lying around, but you might have concrete blocks. Unfortunately, these aren't going to cut it.
These aren't fired and so haven't been hardened. They're very brittle and would crack easily under the heat.
Not only that but there's even some danger that they could explode. We can't imagine concrete makes for a great pizza topping.
If you're looking for a cheap addition to a few summer parties (at some point in the future) or occasional fun with the kids, then making a DIY oven out of clay bricks will work.
However, it will have a shelf life, and won't be as efficient an oven.
For a facility that's going to be used year-round, you should be looking at getting some fire bricks. As we mentioned they are quite a bit more expensive, but for a relatively small pizza oven, they are definitely worth the investment.
They will last for a very long time with plenty of fires being lit in them and they'll cook your pizza in no time.
What's that? You actually need the bricks to build it?
Well, why didn't you say!
Obviously, that's our speciality, so (get in touch)[brickhunter.com/brick-selection], and we'll see what we can find for you.