How to Make Mud Bricks in the Wild
Mud is one of the most popular building materials around the world and it is clear to see why. Mud is plentiful and free, and so is the sunshine used to dry the mud bricks to make them ready for construction. Even better, the process employed to make mud bricks is relatively straightforward.
The great thing is that mud bricks don’t only have to be used for simple structures either, as some of the following images can prove:
The Great Mosque of Djenné in central Mali is among the largest buildings that are made entirely of mud.
Homesteaders around the world are now embracing this and creating their very own cob dwellings made from a mix of soil, clay and straw that’s kneaded together, and then clumped and smoothed into walls. Cob homes more than 500 years old are still standing and being lived in in the United Kingdom.
If you are interested in trying to make your very own mud bricks, know that it may take a few attempts to get it right. You will need the following:
- Dirt – clay content of 25 to 50 percent seems to give the best results.
- Straw, grass or pine needles
- A mold to shape the bricks
Mix soil and water into a thick mud. Add some sand, then mix in the straw, grass or pine needles. Pour the mixture into your molds. Bake bricks in sunshine for five days or so. If cracks appear, cover the bricks so they’re not in direct sunlight. Remove the bricks from the molds and let them dry a few more days. It really is as simple as that.
In the video below, the host uses dry and shredded palm fibers to fortify his mud and uses a simple mold created from four pieces of wood.
You can test the strength of your mud bricks by dropping them from about hip-high. If it breaks, it probably has too much sand in it. Cracks that formed after drying could mean the dirt you used has too much clay.