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Would countertop material such as; slate, granite, or better still soapstone make a suitable J-tube? Coud it take the blast of heat?
 
gardener
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Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Soapstone is the only one that might work...   not sure.   Cost of soapstone versus cost of firebrick ... firebrick is less.  Fireclay and perlite are cheaper yet. 
 
gardener
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Location: Southern alps, on the French side of the french /italian border 5000ft high Southern alpine climate.
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Well, soapstone is a very good heatsink. So it would rob the heat from the fire.

I'm not too sure about it either.

And, insulated soapstone might not withstand the heat and turn back to talcum powder. 
 
Can you really tell me that we aren't dealing with suspicious baked goods? And then there is this tiny ad:
five days of natural building (wofati and cob) and rocket cooktop oct 8-12, 2018
https://permies.com/t/92034/permaculture-projects/days-natural-building-wofati-cob
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