TEN RULES FOR
COST EFFECTIVE BRICK FIRING
A GUIDE FOR BRICKMAKERS AND FIELD-WORKERS
The basic ingredient of bricks is clay. The clay must be plastic when mixed with water so it
can be shaped. It must then have enough 'strength' to keep its shape, and the clay particles
must fuse together
when fired. When
bricks are fired in
a kiln or clamp a
should be formed.
Depending on the
type of clay, this
between 900 and
bond gives bricks
erosion by water.
at which bricks
are fired is
critical. If it's too
low, the bond is
poor, resulting in
Figure 1: Large clamp kiln near Kassala, Sudan. ©Practical Action/Theo
a weak product. If
it's too high, the brick slumps or melts. So it's important that brickmakers use the right
quantity of fuel. And, given that fuel is a major cost, it's important not to waste it.
Practical Action is working with brickmakers in a number of countries, including Peru,
Ecuador, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Sri Lanka. One of Practical Action's aims is to promote
appropriate, energy efficient brick firing. Most of the energy used in brickmaking is needed in
firing. In some cases a lot of energy is used in drying. The brickmakers Practical Action works
with are generally small-scale, artisanal or traditional producers. They face many technical
and financial problems. They may have a shortage of fuel, for instance where wood has been
used up. They may want to increase the quality of their bricks so they can sell to more
profitable markets. Or they may simply need to cut the cost of production to be viable.
Practical Action, The Schumacher Centre, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ, UK
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Patron HRH The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB