Fire bricks are dense ceramic bricks made especially to line kilns and ovens. They can withstand and contain extremely high temperatures. If you are building a brick oven for personal use, you may want to try a cheaper alternative to specialised firebrick. You also may want to try an alternative if you're going for a special look or other unique properties, such as easy cleaning.
Red Clay Brick
Before there was special fire brick, there was red clay building brick. These are not the common red bricks sold in home improvement stores today, which are not solid clay. Red clay bricks used for brick ovens must be clay through and through. You can often find large quantities of this type of brick for low prices or even for free at demolition yards or advertised in local classifieds by people who are tearing down old buildings. You can break or cut a brick in half to make sure it is solid clay. These bricks heat and cool much the same way fire bricks do.
Soapstone is a soft natural stone that is often used for kitchen counter tops, sinks and tiles and carvings. Like fire brick, soapstone absorbs heat quickly and radiates it slowly, making it an excellent choice for an oven. Depending on the source, soapstone may be more expensive than fire brick, but it is often chosen for its marbled grey appearance and because, as a soft, smooth stone, it is easy to clean.
Make Your Own
Someone who is building his or her own brick oven is no stranger to the do-it-yourself mentality. You might consider DIY fire brick for a custom project. You can use mouldable refractory cement to create specialised shaped bricks or a solid bed. You can cut your own custom bricks from a slab of soapstone. You can also skip bricks altogether and pour a one-piece oven made of clay or refractory concrete.
What to Look For
When choosing your fire brick material, do your research. Make sure your material can withstand high heat. For a home pizza oven, you're likely to want it to get to 278,204 degrees C. If you use the wrong materials, you could end up with cracked bricks and crumbly bits in your food. Once you've found or made the perfect brick, you can craft a custom backyard oven the whole neighbourhood will envy. Enjoy your pizza, breads and meats with that distinctive fire-baked flavour!