Can I Make My Own Firebricks?

Firebricks, also known as refractory bricks, are bricks made of refractory ceramic material that can withstand extremely high temperatures. They are commonly used to line furnaces, kilns, fireboxes, and fireplaces where high heat would damage regular bricks.

Firebricks have a high content of silica or alumina that provides resistance to heat. They can withstand temperatures up to 1,800°F (1,000°C) and beyond without losing their strength or shape. Firebricks are graded based on their level of thermal shock resistance, with higher grades able to endure rapid temperature changes without cracking.

Firebricks have various applications in industries like metallurgy, ceramics, glass, and cement manufacturing where kilns or furnaces reach very high temperatures. They are also ubiquitous in residential fireplaces and wood-fired ovens due to their refractory properties.

Reasons to Make Your Own Firebricks

There are several advantages to making your own firebricks rather than purchasing commercial refractory bricks:

Custom sizes and shapes – By making your own, you can create firebricks in whatever dimensions you need for your particular application. This allows you to perfectly fit firebricks into kilns, forges, furnaces, fireplaces, etc.

Cost savings – Commercial firebricks can be expensive, especially for specialty sizes. Homemade firebricks only require inexpensive and readily available materials like clay, sand, and cement. This allows you to make custom firebricks on a budget.

Specific properties – You can tweak the recipe to achieve certain characteristics. Adding sawdust or grog creates an insulating firebrick, higher cement content improves strength, grooves or holes can be incorporated to direct air flow. Homemade provides flexibility.

Raw Materials Needed

The main raw materials needed to make your own firebricks are:

Refractory Clay

Refractory clay is essential for making firebricks. It has a high alumina content that can withstand extremely high temperatures without deforming or breaking down. Good refractory clays for firebricks include kaolin, fireclay, and high alumina clays.


Aggregates like silica sand, grog (previously fired clay), or crushed firebrick can be added to the refractory clay. Aggregates improve strength and thermal shock resistance. They also reduce shrinkage and cracks during drying and firing.


Water is mixed with the refractory clay and aggregates to form a stiff workable consistency that can be shaped. The water then evaporates during drying. Too much water can reduce strength while too little makes shaping difficult.

Equipment Required

Making your own firebricks requires some basic equipment for mixing, molding, and firing the bricks. Here is some of the key equipment you will need:

Mixing Tools

You will need tools for properly mixing the firebrick ingredients into a uniform mixture. A mortar and pestle, stand mixer, or drum mixer work well for mixing small batches by hand or machine.


Brick molds form the mixed material into the desired brick shapes. You can purchase reusable molds made of wood, steel, or plastic in standard brick sizes. Or you can make your own single-use molds from wood, silicone, or other materials.

Kiln or Furnace

Properly fired bricks require exposing them to very high temperatures in a kiln or furnace. Gas, wood, or coal-fired kilns allow firing to over 2000°F to fully cure the bricks. A backyard furnace can work on a small scale if it reaches adequate temperatures.

Mix Designs

When making your own firebricks, the mix design is critical for achieving optimal properties. The two key components are the clay and the aggregate materials.

Clay provides the binding effect and plasticity needed to form the bricks. Fireclays or kaolin clays are commonly used. The type and quality of the clay impacts the final brick properties.

Aggregates act as fillers and can improve certain properties. Common aggregates include alumina, silica sand, grog, or crushed firebrick. Adding aggregates reduces shrinkage and prevents cracking during drying and firing.

The ideal clay-to-aggregate ratio depends on the materials used and desired brick properties. Typical ratios are:

  • 70% clay, 30% grog
  • 50% fireclay, 50% alumina
  • 60% ball clay, 40% silica sand

Testing different mix designs is recommended to optimize for your specific application. The aggregates should comprise 30-50% of the total mixture. Too much can weaken the brick’s structure.

Shaping and Drying

Once your firebrick mixture is prepared, the next step is to shape and dry the bricks before firing. The most common method is to compress the mixture into molds to form the brick shapes.

Use steel molds that have been lightly oiled or sanded to prevent sticking. Compact the mixture into the molds, tamping it down firmly to remove any air pockets. Overfill the mold slightly, then scrape off excess material with a straightedge for a smooth finish.

After molding, transfer the shaped bricks to a drying area protected from rain and direct sun. Place them on a flat surface, spacing them apart to allow air circulation. Allow the bricks to air dry for 1-2 weeks before firing. Turn them periodically to ensure even drying.

The drying process removes moisture from the bricks slowly to prevent cracking. Test the bricks by weighing them periodically – they are ready for firing when the weight loss has stabilized and the bricks feel bone dry.

Firing Process

Properly firing homemade firebricks is critical to develop their full heat resistance. The bricks must be heated to high temperatures for an extended time to fully sinter the clay particles together into a solid ceramic mass.

Most homemade firebrick recipes call for firing to around 1,800°F to 2,000°F (980°C to 1,090°C). Temperatures in this range allow the clay materials to fully vitrify while avoiding potential melting or deforming. The bricks should be heated slowly, around 200°F (110°C) per hour, until reaching maximum temperature.

Firing times at peak temperatures generally range from 8 to 24 hours depending on kiln type, brick thickness, and desired properties. Longer firing durations result in denser, harder bricks. Fast firing can cause cracking or warping. For a typical 2-inch thick homemade brick, 12-16 hours at peak temperature is recommended.

After sufficient soaking at maximum temperature, the kiln should be cooled slowly, around 150°F (85°C) per hour. Slow cooling prevents thermal shock and cracking in the fired bricks. With proper heat treatment, the homemade firebricks will develop excellent resistance to heat and thermal cycling.

Testing Properties

Once the firebricks have been fired, it is important to test their properties to ensure they will perform as desired. Three key properties to test are density, strength, and refractoriness.

Density is a measure of the brick’s weight per unit volume. Denser bricks are heavier but provide greater insulating ability. Test density by taking precise measurements of the brick’s dimensions and weighing on a scale. Compare to the density of commercial firebricks.

Strength indicates the ability to withstand load without cracking or crumbling. This can be tested by gradually applying force to the brick surface until failure occurs. Keep in mind stronger bricks require more heat for firing. Balance strength with other properties.

Refractoriness refers to the maximum temperature a brick can withstand before softening. To test, gradually increase kiln temperature with an embedded thermocouple until the brick begins to slump. Higher alumina and silica content improves refractoriness. Commercial firebricks range from 1650°C to 1760°C.

Testing these key properties will verify your homemade firebricks can withstand the conditions inside your kiln, forge, or furnace. Adjust your materials and methods to optimize the characteristics for your specific application.

Advantages Over Commercial Bricks

Making your own firebricks at home offers some key advantages over buying commercial refractory bricks.

The main advantage is the ability to fully customize the bricks. You can tune the brick properties like density, porosity, and strength to your exact application and needs. For instance, you may want low density insulating bricks for a kiln wall, but high strength and hardness bricks for the kiln floor. By making your own, you have total control over the mix design and firing process.

Homemade firebricks also offer significant cost savings over commercial bricks. Raw materials like clay, sawdust, and aggregates can often be sourced very cheaply or even for free locally. The bricks require minimal processing and equipment to form. When produced in bulk, homemade firebricks can cost a fraction per brick compared to commercial options.

So in summary, complete customizability and lower cost are the two biggest perks of making DIY refractory firebricks rather than purchasing commercial versions.


Making your own firebricks can be a rewarding DIY project with the right materials, equipment, and techniques. The basic process involves mixing an appropriate refractory blend, forming the bricks, drying them thoroughly, and firing to high temperatures in a kiln. While this takes time and effort, you can customize the size and shape of bricks and achieve cost savings over buying commercial refractory bricks.

For best results, test your raw materials to ensure they can withstand high heat. Control moisture levels and fire slowly, according to the recipe you select. Take safety precautions and wear protective equipment when handling dry materials and operating the kiln. With practice, you can master how to make durable, high-quality firebricks yourself.

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