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Processing clay soil  RSS feed

 
Levi sbottom
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Hello all,
Ok, so I'm building an earthen oven for experience and eventually will be building some sort of natural home most likely a super adobe cob hybrid. That being said I have done my shake tests all they did was give me more questions than answers.  I know I have clay and sand but cannot tell the silt amount so moving on to the test bricks and my question I have already dug my clay soil and it's super chunky and super hard. So I understand that it can be screened and all but I do not see how screening alone will break up the chunks. The small amount that I'm using for the test bricks I am just beating the chunks in a bucket with a tamper like tool and its already a pain so I can't imagine how one would deal with an earth oven let alone a cob house. Please tell me what I am missing
Thanks for any help!!
 
Tobias Ber
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Location: Northern Germany (Zone 8a)
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hey levi...

welcome to the forums and good luck, best wishes and blessings on your project.

did you try soaking the chunks in lots of water?

or making a heap and slightly wetting it? a tarp over it might help to keep the moisture in for some time.

EDIT: did you look into rammed earth building?
 
Erwin Decoene
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Location: Courtrai Area, Flanders Region, Belgium Europe
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Hey Levi

To process clay you can either go the wet route or the dry.



Dry has the advantage that your clay mix is dry and thus lighter to transport and store in big bags or such.

Wet has the advantage of less dust and immediately usability but it is heavy work mixing in ingredients especially if you do everything manually.


I have not worked clay in big quantities as you will need but i would use the dry method untill i have the correct mix of materials. You will get a far more homogenous material in the end.


To loosen up hard dry clay you could use a (rented ? or homebuild) 'stone crusher' - Stone crusher is a word that i use here because i don't know the exact english translation. In dutch we use the word 'kaakbreker' - which translater literally means 'yaw' breaker. If the link works you'll see lots of those machines. You have them in sizes ranging from table top models to the size of a appartment block.

https://www.google.be/search?q=kaakbreker&rlz=1C1GGGE_enBE462&tbm=isch&imgil=fZ1vx6zVsuINbM%253A%253BZAhiKhXpsAmiwM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.fritsch-malen-zeven.nl%25252Ftheorie%25252Fkaakbrekers%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=fZ1vx6zVsuINbM%253A%252CZAhiKhXpsAmiwM%252C_&usg=__5GAVeTYOb5Wcqiz7OyMlvsTK3EA%3D&biw=1365&bih=908&ved=0ahUKEwitjPyYhqTVAhXByRoKHRPUC6AQyjcIMg&ei=uQV3We3LM8GTa5Oor4AK#imgrc=fZ1vx6zVsuINbM:

Depending on your circumstances you can also use a rotating drum with heavy steels rods or balls to do the crushing.


I would recommend you to consult a local pottery (or as local as you can gett). Potters usually know what clay they have around and what/how you could use it (for) or what to add to obtain different colours etc...

You will probably extract the clay and other materials on site so it might be worth thinking that trough. Heavy materials are easier to move downhill but if you want to use the extraction pitts. I.e. to hold used water - it is difficult to move water uphill.


You might also find interesting information on your local soil and geological maps.























 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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the traditional machine for working clay is called a pug mill and they can be found online, local potters ( as mentioned by Erwin) should know where to get one or they might even help you out with their own pug mill.

If your clay is so hard that you have trouble breaking it up, wet the clay, filling a bucket and adding water is the best method to quickly soften rock hard clays.

Do you have a photo of your test jar(s) that you could post here so others can be better help?

Redhawk
 
Levi sbottom
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Wow. Sorry to all for not checking back earlier I did't expect to receive responses so fast this was my first post to a forum ever. 
Anyways. I am currently slaking the clay soil. Does anyone know if it matters if the clay soil is placed in a bucket and then water added or should I have done the opposite?
Yes to the question about rammed earth I have studied up on it a bit and think it produces a beautiful wall system. 
Ok let me add a bit more info. I am doing the earthen oven in Northern California at my mothers property where I am visiting the actual natural building that this is all leading up to will be done in Ecuador so as of this second don't have test samples of soils for there. But for the oven I do have some photos I can add of shake tests it just might take a bit because I'm traveling while in the states. 
Thanks everyone for having me.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2738
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Levi,  it actually doesn't matter if you start dry and add water or have the water in the bucket and add clay, either way works the same.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
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Location: northern northern california
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a simple way to break up all the clay and get it through a screen is to use a water hose with a sprayer that does a jet stream or other high pressure setting.
just put the chunks on the screen and then pressure wash them into a container under a screen.

then your clay will be too wet to work with immediately, but letting it settle you can keep pouring off the water that will go to the top.
 
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