How to cast with refractory cement

Written by steve hamilton
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How to cast with refractory cement
Items cast from refractory cement withstand high temperatures. (brickoven image by Ralph Petty from Fotolia.com)

Refractory cement is a mixture of materials designed to withstand temperatures in ovens, fireplaces, kilns and furnaces. The castable variety can be moulded by hand or poured into forms to create whatever shape is desired. You can use castable refractory cement to make replacement firebricks for a custom fireplace or a pizza oven. Because the material uses water as part of the curing process, any moulds you use, such as sheet metal or tightly constructed wood forms, must hold in moisture.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Sheet metal or wood form
  • Cooking oil spray
  • Large plastic bucket
  • Measuring cups
  • Water
  • Stirring stick

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Spray the form liberally with cooking oil.

  2. 2

    Stir the entire container of dry refractory cement first, to ensure complete distribution of ingredients.

  3. 3

    Measure out the proper amount of dry mix and dump it into a plastic bucket. Consult the package directions to determine the required amount of water. Add the water to the bucket and stir well with a stick.

  4. 4

    Form a handful of the material into a ball. Hold the ball in the palm of your hand. If it flattens out, the mix is too wet and more dry mix must be added. Throw the ball from one hand to the other four or five times. If it falls apart, the mix is too dry and more water must be added.

  5. 5

    Pour the properly prepared mix into the mould. Use your hands to pat it into the mould and smooth the surface. Don't use a trowel to smooth the cement. A slick finish interferes with the curing process. Leave the mould to dry thoroughly for at least 24 hours, preferably more. Consult the package directions for recommended cure time.

  6. 6

    Remove the item from the mould carefully once properly cured. It will be delicate until it is fired.

Tips and warnings

  • When heating cast objects for the first time, increase the heat very slowly over many hours. This process, called calcining, is vital for the proper performance of the material.

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