Adobe brick making

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Curtis, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Curtis

    Curtis Junior Member

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    Hello,
    I am interested in creating some adobe bricks to make a permanent walkway through our garden. I've done a lot of reading on making them, was just curious if anyone here had any experience with making adobe bricks. Any advice? Anyone ever used them in a garden?

    I was thinking of making some 4 inches thick, 4 inches wide, and 8 inches long.

    Even if I don't use them in the garden, like I want, i'm sure i'll find something to use them for ;)
     
  2. christianshearer

    christianshearer Junior Member

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    Re: Adobe brick making

    Curtis, making adobe bricks is incredibly easy. All it takes is sand, clay and a fiber (cut up straw, horse manure, rice hulls). Ideally our mix would have 30% clay and 70% sand, mixed in a pit or large mixing trough with water. Try to break up all the clumps. Usually you don't have pure clay and pure sand to mix together, and to tell you the truth, the ratios can vary quite a bit, especially if you are just using them in the garden and not building with them. If I were you, I would dig down to your sub soil, and if it isn't completely obvious that it is clearly too sandy or pure clay, try making a few bricks with what you have. Many sites will have a fairly good mix already. If the bricks crack a ton, its too much clay, if they crumble, it is too much sand.

    Mix the subsoil (clay and sand) together with water. Try to break up all the bits (we usually do this in a large pit and stomp it with our feet), then you should have a softserve icecream consistancy, slighly melting. Mix in tons of fiber. More than you think. you want the final product to almost seem more like fiber covered in mud rather than mud with some fiber in it. The final consistancy should be thick enough to put your foot in, and when you pull it out, it closes slightly, but leaves a hole. Then pour this into your form, and take the form off right then. If it is thick enough, it should (basically) keep its shape. Let it dry in the sun for a few days, then prop it up on its side, so as to have more surface area exposed, then let it dry for another week or two (or longer depending on your weather).

    We usually use bricks that are 4x8x16 inches. but your 4x4x8 should work well as well.

    I hope that helps.
    Best to you and good luck in the mud! Have fun!

    Christian
    www.panyaproject.org
     
  3. Curtis

    Curtis Junior Member

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    Re: Adobe brick making

    Thank you.

    Yesterday I did a soil sample, and it appears the soil I have is probably more like 80% sand. I'll mix in some more clay rich soil and let you know how the project is going. Maybe i'll get around to building the forms today. I have more work lined out for me this weekend, a lot needs to be done around here so it may be a couple days untill an update.
     
  4. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Adobe brick making

    My soil was mainly clay so worked very well.
    The straw is very important as it slows the drying process and stops the bricks cracking.
    80% sand seems far too high, you would need to add about 20%+ cement!

    BTW cow manure and mud makes the best render.
     
  5. Curtis

    Curtis Junior Member

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    Re: Adobe brick making

    We have a gigantic pile of compost, with a lot of manure in it. Perhaps I could mix in a bit of that and see how it changes things.
     
  6. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    Re: Adobe brick making

    no i don't think so
    Your soil sounds too sandy although, I guess, the acid test is to make a brick, cure it, and see if it stays together.
     

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