Firespeaking

Masonry Heaters, Wood-Fired Ovens, Natural Building

Towards Functional, Beautiful AND Affordable Masonry Heater Construction….


In our continual search to come up with functional, beautiful AND affordable solutions for sustainable living, we are very excited about and currently experimenting with the use of Compressed Earth Blocks (CEBs) for masonry heater construction.  As natural builders, we decided that masonry heaters provide the very best solution for heating homes.  It is the cleanest and most efficient way to burn wood which we consider to be a vital renewable source of energy in comparison with alternatives such as natural gas or electricity which come from more abstract and complex sources.

We love using earthen materials because of how sculptural they allow us to be, how healthy we feel using the materials compared to others and because of their low embodied energy.  We have been experimenting with using cob and adobe for masonry heaters and have found that both leave room for desired improvement in their thermal capabilities. Cob does work well for rocket stoves but it is still not the perfect dense material that we want to be storing the heat generated by the flue gases traveling inside masonry heater channels.  The denser and heavier the material, the greater the rate at which it can transfer the heat from the gases passing by its inside surface towards it outside surfaces.

CEBs allow one to make bricks with a very dry mix.  When using a press like a CINVA-Ram… one notices that whereas water is usually what gives clay its cohesiveness…. the compression that results from using leverage  mixed with only a very little bit of water activates the binding quality in clay and makes strong unfired bricks (also know as “green” bricks).  Because there is not so much water in the mix, the density of the material does not change so much in drying.

We are currently beginning experiments with producing and using CEBs for masonry heaters and look forward to sharing these experiences..

Links to heaters built with unfired earthen bricks to understand the combination of functionality and aesthetics we are going for:

Rainwater Heater, faced with the bricks made in the video above
Rio Azul Masonry Heater
& CIDEP Rocket Stove – built by Firespeaking in February and March of 2010
The Outstanding Work of Vuurmeesters in Europe
The Inspiring Work of Holger Laerad in BC, Canada

Further Reading on the Web:

An excellent general overview about Compressed Earth Blocks (CEBs)
A hands-on project led by Tom Trout at the Masonry Heater Association 2006 Annual Gathering
For those interested in really going deeper into the subject…. follow this link to a thorough and thoughtful guide to making CEBs.

Related Ideas and Terms:

Rammed Earth Construction, Sustainable/Green/Natural Building, Using Local Energy, Using Local Resources, Ecological Responsibility, Fireplaces, Adobe, Cob, etc.

Other Media Links….

Latest News:

  • OAEC Medium-Sized Professional Wood-Fired Oven November 16, 2014     This oven was built in October 2014 at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.  The OAEC has inspired many through its courses and example over the last three decades.  It was an honor to be invited to build this oven which is well situated next to their newly remodeled kitchen facility. The deck of this oven ...
  • Masonry Heater Hardware Updates April 11, 2014 Some videos showing recent work in the shop.  The first two are for a masonry heater that I am building and the last one is a prototype for an improved firebox door for the barrel oven kits.
  • Barrel Oven Workshop at Sweet Briar Farm May 17, 2012 Sebastian and Jeanna are getting married! This oven will be a part of their wedding celebration and then will live on to cook meals for their family and friends. COME LEARN HOW TO MAKE A BEAUTIFUL AND EFFICIENT WOOD-FIRED OVEN, AT THIS BEAUTIFUL HOMESTEAD, IN WHICH TO BAKE DELICIOUS BREAD AND SO MUCH MORE! Join Us For This ...
  • Oven Building Workshop at Wise Acres Farm March 12, 2012 Oven Building Workshop at Wise Acres Farm Pleasant Hill, OR (August 25, 26 2012) Learn how to build your own super-insulated, wood-fired, earthen oven! Learn how to make an oven to cook bread, pizza, cookies, cakes, pies, casseroles, stews, and so much more! Wise Acres Farm is a beautiful place and home to Dr. Sharol Tilgner, author of “Herbal ...
  • Duckpond Pottery Oven March 8, 2012 Oven Building Workshop at Duckpond Pottery Brevard, NC (April 14-15, 2012) Join us for this workshop and learn how to make a super insulated, WOOD-FIRED OVEN oven to cook bread, pizza, cookies, cakes, pies, casseroles, stews, and so much more! Click on poster to view. To register and for more info contact Nick Freidman- duckpondpotter@gmail.com
  • Natural Plasters at PRI March 8, 2012 Natural Plasters Workshop at PRI  Portland, OR (March 25-26, 2012) Join us for a free workshop on how to make and apply earthen plasters to Portland’s first code approved straw-clay retrofit! Contact me, Eva for more information.
  • Bali Wood-Fired Oven March 2, 2012 We built this wood-fired oven in Bali for Max’s parents using local bricks, clays, sands and fibers. The oven joins the traditional paon (cookstove) that Max built a few years ago. This oven features ample wood storage for both units, a metal firing door and a wooden door for baking. (Stay tuned for an article about ...
  • Ledge Stone Masonry Heater Near Eugene, Oregon December 20, 2011 This heater was built for a family who live near Eugene, OR.  It features a see-through firebox, heated bench and a bake oven.  The outside skin is laid with Montana Bitterroot ledge stone with Three Rivers stone detailing the bake oven arch.  We cast, poured and and polished the bench which includes special embedded ...
  • Masonry Heater at the Allen’s (Portland, OR) November 14, 2011   We built this masonry heater in the Portland area in autumn of 2011.  Our clients had collected many beautiful bricks dating back to 1883 (a long time from our West Coast perspective!), local basalt rock, and cobble stones that originally paved the streets of Portland. This masonry heater (based on the Swedish 5-run design) has ...
  • Pizza Party in the Dabbeni Barrel Oven! October 20, 2011         This Barrel Oven’s maiden voyage fed over 70 people with amazing pizzas! The pizza above is one of Astrid’s special recipe- corn, mozzarella and gorgonzola. Once out of the oven it is topped with arugula and white truffle oil. Another pizza sauce was made with capers from Paolo’s mother’s garden in Italy.     I made chocolate ...

Videos:

  • Wood-Fired Barrel Oven Video July 13, 2011  This oven project was led by Eva Edleson at the Natural Building Extravaganza! Learn more about… The Wood-Fired Barrel Oven The Outdoor Kitchen Project Featured in this Video Our Metal Work View the rest of our Media Library
  • Beautiful Video of BioConstruyendo Patagonia 2011 April 15, 2011 This is a video summary of BioConstruyendo Patagonia 2011 – the second year of this wonderful natural building convergence that takes place in February in El Bolson, southern Argentina. Eva and I were instructors for this event last year. The location of the event is a community where Max has lived and put ...
  • Bioconstruyendo: Argentinian Natural Building Festival May 29, 2010 We are really excited about this video.  It documents the events leading up to and during the natural building festival: Bioconstruyendo 2010 in El Bolson, Patagonia, Argentina.  Both Eva and Max were lead instructors for the event which was extremely successful.  So many great things were accomplished and so much fun was had! Visit Bioconstruyendo’s website ...
  • Adobe Oven in Golondrinas, Argentina May 26, 2010 This is a fun video of Eva building an adobe oven along with friend and collaborator Demian Iusso of Manos en El Barro Natural Building in Patagonia, Argentina.  Activate and enjoy!

Articles & Essays:

  • The Ultimate Laundry Drying Rack January 9, 2013 In our quest to live smartly and well, Eva and I have resisted the urge to use an electric dryer to dry our clothes. Although this common appliance certainly offers some conveniences, it seems a gratuitous use of electricity and energy that is otherwise available to us in free and smart ways. We had been ...
  • A Summary of Recent Research on Rocket Mass Heaters (and Bell Design) March 5, 2012 http://www.handprintpress.com/home-heating/rmh-research I have just posted this article about recent research on rocket mass heaters to Hand Print Press with this same title. It is a synthesis that I have been wanting to write for some time since the experiences at the MHA gatherings have been so rich.  I’ve wanted to make sure that others could benefit ...
  • Response about Rocket Stoves in MHAmember Forum December 5, 2011 This spontaneous essay is a response to this great piece by Alex Chernov, as presented in the MHA News. From: Max Edleson max (at) firespeaking.com To: MHAmembers@yahoogroups.com Date: Sat, 3 Dec 2011 07:52:43 -0800 Subject: Re: member news Indeed, Alex, the article you have written is great and this area of research you are pointing to is very exciting. The ...
  • The Cabin Stove – A Small Masonry Heater at Aprovecho Research Center September 4, 2011 A good part of the month of August has been dedicated to the research, development and construction of a small multi-functional masonry heater I have been calling “The Cabin Stove”.  Eva and I have both been working as instructors in the first year of the Sustainable Shelter Workshop Series at Aprovecho Research Center in Cottage ...
  • Draft-Horse Workshop in Oregon July 30, 2011 My brother Alex and I jumped on the opportunity of him visiting from Patagonia to organize some fun educational activities to do together.  Since we share a common interest in horses and both have some experience with working with horses on farms, we thought it would be neat to meet people who had more experience ...
  • Details of Plumbing for a Thermosiphon Hot Water System January 28, 2011 The purpose of this article is to share the specifics of one way to plumb a masonry heater to provide hot water for a home.  In this project, a stainless steel heat coil in the firebox was connected to a well-insulated water tank above it which then work together through a passive thermosiphoning process to ...
  • Resources for Domestic Hot Water Systems for Woodstoves and Masonry Heaters December 15, 2010 This is part of a series of articles on heating hot water with masonry heaters and other wood-fired stoves: See also Details of Plumbing for a Thermasiphon Hot Water System We are currently reading “Handmade Hot Water Systems” by Art Sussman and Richard Frazier.  This book has a really down-to-earth late-70’s approach to using your existing ...
  • Towards Functional, Beautiful AND Affordable Masonry Heater Construction…. September 10, 2010 In our continual search to come up with functional, beautiful AND affordable solutions for sustainable living, we are very excited about and currently experimenting with the use of Compressed Earth Blocks (CEBs) for masonry heater construction.  As natural builders, we decided that masonry heaters provide the very best solution for heating homes.  It is the ...
  • Mark Twain on European Masonry Stoves June 4, 2010 “Take the German stove, for instance – where can you find it outside of German countries? I am sure I have never seen it where German was not the language of the region. Yet it is by long odds the best stove and the most convenient and economical that has yet been ...
  • Our Vision: Towards a Craft School May 29, 2010 Download file, view and print it out to keep and share! Vision of Craft School Document Other Media Links…. Latest News: Videos: Articles & Essays: Front Page Archive:

Front Page Archive:

  • February 6, 2011 We Offer Efficient Ways to Heat Your Home Masonry Heaters, Rocket Stoves and Rumford Fireplaces Natural Building, Paints, Plasters and Retrofits Ovens & Cookstoves Firespeaking Distributes the best DVD on Natural Building Check out the trailer above and find out more about the DVD “Mud, Hands, A House”! We also offer Natural Building Workshops Handmade Crafts and Tools Visit our Book and ...
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Firespeaking - 89242 Fir Butte Rd, Eugene, OR 97402 - info (at) firespeaking.com - (541) 688-0948 - OR CCB# 200122