How To Build An Earthen Oven

In this video we're going to show you how to build an earthen oven, the existence of ovens like this is easily documented for the 18th century. In fact, just about every ancient culture had a very similar oven. There's one particular woodcut illustration from medieval times depicting an earthen oven built on a wagon. There are references in 18th century literature and also archaeological evidence that you would find Evans like this in private homes. And in fort settings, there are also references to. Communal Evans where the baker would bake bread for an entire village we're going to need several things to make our mud of an out of we're going to need sand that's, the major component of our oven, we're going to need a good bit of clay. This is dried clay.

You can get it at a masonry store, or you can get a damp clay out of a ditch bankrupt you're going to need straw or dry grass or maybe haste. You may need some bricks. So some fire bricks, even, even regular bricks will work, and you're going to need. A canvas tarp to mix your cob together with, and you're, definitely going to need a good bit of water before you build to your oven, you have to consider what you're going to build your oven on.

There are historical examples of ovens, built on tables, or on brick or stone plinths on hearths on the top of our very sturdy table. We've laid out a layer of fire brick. That's going to be the floor of our oven. We've also chalked out here. The design about 22 inches across to the bottom on the inside that's.

The. Inside measurement, it's going to be the walls are going to be about six inches thick. So we've got markings here. So we can see about how big it's going to look on the surface, the door width right here is about 12 inches across. So we can get something as big as a pie in without too much trouble. First thing we're going to do is we're going to build the core it's going to be like a sand castle, just wet sand that we're going to build the oven over the top of sometimes you'll see other people doing it with sticks.

And things like this, this is going to be much easier and quicker. We've got this is where our door is going to be I. Just went ahead and put a couple bricks in here to be the inner core of the door, they'll be removed. And right here, I've placed that brick wall to give us a nice, flat surface to build up against. So we've taken about an hour to put this together. We've used very wet sand so that it stays into shape. And we've got to make sure that this stays wet till we get our first layer on there, aren't.

Very many critical things about the shape and the size of your particular of them. But there is one critical thing. And that is the height of the opening tunnel here, compared to the height of your dome, these need to be a particular ratio or else.

The air won't draw through this when you're burning the wood inside the thing. So this is a between 65 and 60 percent or about 63% height here, compared to the height there. The next thing we're going to do is put paper on this we're going to put paper we're. Gonna wet it down, so it'll give us a layer to separate. So when we take the sand out, it doesn't stick to the inner surface, got the paper covering done on our sand, inner core. This will make it much easier to take the core out from underneath it.

Now, it's time to make the first layer of cob or mud to put on our oven, this innermost layer of mud, or cob that we're going to put on our oven is just sand and clay about two parts sand to one part clay. We mix those two together. So that they're very well. Mixed and then we just put it on there, we wouldn't want to make sure it's got about the right consistency that we can still work it, but it isn't so wet that it's sloppy.

And you want to make sure to have air on the side of a little more sand than too much clay. The more clay. You've got more it's going to shrink and crack. So you probably want to make up a bunch of this cob beforehand, it ages, well, it won't. It won't, go bad, waiting overnight. And that way, as soon as you're done with your sandcastle core.

You can start putting it on right away. You don't have to worry about that drying out and blowing away while you're making your column. So learning just the right consistency that can be a trick as you see here, I've been stomping on this pile for a little while this is starting to feel perfect.

It forms up into a ball like a snowball. It doesn't deform easily, it's, not sloppy and still form it into any shape. You want, and it's, not too drippy, either that's, what you're looking for something it holds. Together, well, but still moldable, so we're working on putting this first layer on this is a layer without any straw in it, because that would just burn up anyway, it's about three inches, thick, and we're, starting at the very bottom, we're going to work our way up that way we can watch as we go to make sure thickness stays about the same. Well, we finished the inner mud layer yesterday afternoon. And we let this set overnight, and it's its just slightly firmer than it was we don't want to let it get too dry.

Or else, the next layer, won't adhere to this layer properly. We've scratched this layer a little so that the next layer of cob we put on here will adhere nicely this next layer of cob that we put on it's going to have grass or hay or straw in it to give it a lot more strength than this inner layer. We're going to mix our clay and our sand.

First, as soon as that's, getting close to the right consistency, that's when we'll add our other binder material here, so I've got this mixed up I'm going to let mix. This up just slightly wetter it's feeling, a like a pretty good consistency now under my feet. And since we're since we're, going to add in this dry straw here, it's going to dry it up a little. So I'm gonna start with a slightly wetter mixture. But we wanted to get this mixed first and then add in the binder. This will add some amazing strength to it when it dries up, it really binds it together. So it's helpful to make this cob up beforehand.

It really makes it work better. If it's a couple of days old, but. You don't want to let it get too old because as it's wet for a long time, the grass will start to rot in there. So you don't want that to happen if it's a day or two old, keep it wrapped in plastic, so it's wet and pliable it'll, really work even better after a day or so.

So to make this go faster, I suggest you invite a bunch of friends over have a cob party. They can be stomping on this stuff while you're putting it on your stove. Everyone will have fun. Well, I've got about five or six Wolf's of big. Loaves of cob here, ready to go I think, that's a good start I'm, not sure exactly how many it's going to take to cover this oven.

So we're going to put this on, and then I'll see how much more I need to make I've got marks here on the table to get about two-and-a-half or three inches for the outside layer. We're gonna start putting on our lopes we're going to make sure that they butt up well with the inner core here. So there isn't a big airspace between them, and I'll, just start adding these on all the way. Around okay, there it is.

We've got the second layer of a cob type material on here. This is the stuff with the straw that's that's built into it. It does as you work it.

It kind of sags down some. So you might want to start a little thinner at the bottom than the finish expecting some of it to Sag down into position, a little. This gives us a good opportunity to look at the cross-section, but what's going on here. You can see the cobs little thicker down at the bottom than it is at the top because. It's kind of sagged a little. You can see our outer cob core our inner core that doesn't have this straw in it and here's, the sand core on the inside we're going to add a little to the outside here. We're going to give it a nice rounded opening because a rounded opening going to have more strength than this sharp edge.

Well, we've finished putting our rounded opening on the oven. So it'll be a little stronger. We made sure to make the cob that we added back into this other stuff. Whenever. You add two pieces together, we really have to work it so that the two pieces adhere to each other.

And it just doesn't fall off. We added a little of sand on the front to help support that lip, depending on where you're at your environment, the time of year. But what the humidity is this cell takes two weeks. Three weeks, four weeks, maybe even a little longer for it to get dry enough for it to even you start to even think about warming it up from the inside while this is drying. You don't want to. Get it rained on, so you're gonna need to protect this from the weather, but don't cover it with plastic so that it can't dry. So you want to protect it from the rain, but let it breathe.

So it's only been about 24 hours since we've been here last, but it's firmed up enough with how the weather is here that we were able to go ahead and pull out some of the same that I haven't gone and dug the whole thing out, but I want to let it start to dry out on the inside and even peel off some paper. If you. Want to but at all burn out anyway, but we're just dug it out about half way.

We'll come back in a couple more days. Take out more. We've removed the sand core from this oven. And we've given it a couple of weeks to dry, so it's, almost ready to fire. You may not have to wait this long if you build an oven, but if it's not adequately dry before you fire, it is'll cause cracking, or at least more cracking than normal in the body.

Even if you wait like, we did it's inevitable that some cracking will occur. Don't. Be alarmed if the cracks are especially big, you can repair them with a little extra sand and clay. And let that dry in place. We've employed a few warming fires in the seven, and it's and is dried out.

Well, we've gotten a few cracks. But overall we're really pleased. The walls of this oven are extremely durable here's, a brick of the material. And it takes a lot to break this material up. So if you need to do modifications, you'll really have to chop at it, however, is as sturdy as this is it still needs to. Be protected from the weather. This is water-soluble, and it'll just wash away with the rain.

So we need this to last awhile we're going to have to build a little roof over it make sure to watch part two of this video, where we learn how to bake bread in one of these earthen ovens, you know, this looks pretty good I. Think I'm going to fire it up.

Dated : 22-Mar-2022