Adobe is a mixture of clay and sharp sand in 2:1 ratio. (Referring to weight, not volume). It must be well mixed to perform. The ratio is not absolutely critical and we experimented with 1:1 1:2 and 1:3 — they were all fine and equally strong when a dried out lump was stood upon.
I have heard of other people making pizza ovens from clay that they have dug out of the ground. This was not an option for us.
We used the cheapest that we could get our hands on, which came from a pottery supplies website. A pallet of terracotta delivered to our driveway.
The clay came in very heavy, dense bags. Its moisture content was low and needed rehydrating before it was soft enough for us to use.
This bit is laborious – get your kids and someone else’s! Bribes, biscuits, cakes – anything!
So, we used a strong tarpaulin square, then made a layer of sand 1cm thick. 25kg sand + 12.5 kg clay.
To make the clay easier we cut slices the thickness of bread slices and soaked them in water for a while until soft. Then scattered bits of them evenly over the area of sand and got jumping and twisting. Then use the tarpaulin to fold it in like kneeding dough and fold again and again….
It is easier if you add a little too much water.
However if adobe is too wet then it starts to sag when you are using it so we left piles of it to dry out in the sun until consitency was about right. My sand dome was also a bit too wet, so the lower region kept turning saggy under its own weight and did not want to dry out.
This was a good, full days’ work with several pint-sized assistants.
I have also read about people using electric mixers with some success, but cement mixers do not sound helpful due to clay sticking to the machinery and just going round.
Another blogger wrote about buying ready-mixed adobe but I could not find any despite google searches.
Next you are ready to make layer one of the pizza oven.
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