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Save on Heat with Fire Bricks

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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, space heating accounted for 63% of natural gas consumed in U.S. homes in 2009. Whether you’re using natural gas, propane, firewood, or other methods for heating your home this winter, it can be a heavy hit on your pocketbook and the environment.

The more efficient we can be in heating our homes, the better.

One incredibly simple thing you can do, says Jennifer Margulis? Make the most of your oven’s heat by placing several fire bricks inside when you bake. The fire bricks will absorb the heat from the oven and once dinner’s done, they’ll continue to emanate heat long after your oven is off. If you don’t have fire bricks handy, you can still capture some of that heat by placing a baking stone or piece of cast iron cookware inside the oven while you bake.

Once you’re done cooking, prop your oven door open to allow the heat to escape. Of course, you’ll want to use extreme caution with this method if you have young children in the house.

Firebricks are more expensive than regular red bricks, but they go for less than $5 in most locations. Not a bad expenditure for lowering your fuel and energy consumption. 

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

39 comments… add one
  • janedd Jul 9, 2012, 8:54 am

    Heat? We are burining up around here!
     
    https://proana.info

  • joani morales Dec 13, 2012, 3:13 am

    can you put the fire bricks in a wood burning stove

    • Judy Sep 18, 2014, 11:41 am

      Yes, our main wood stove is lined bottom and sides with firebrick

    • tim Dec 21, 2014, 4:49 am

      Yes thats one of the main uses of fire bricks…that and fireplaces.

  • Barbee Aug 17, 2013, 6:14 am

    where do I buy fire bricks?

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 17, 2013, 6:21 am

      A building store like Home Depot or a stove store should have them.

    • John Feb 9, 2014, 1:38 pm

      Your nearest concrete and concrete block store will be the cheapest place to purchase. I just purchased for $1.25 each.

      • Julianne Jan 19, 2019, 1:33 pm

        Just make sure you get fire bricks not just any brick. Regular bricks can explode if they are heated to a high temperature.

  • Erin Jan 10, 2014, 2:14 pm

    My grandpa grew up in upstate New York in the early 1920’s. They didn’t have heating, just a wood stove. He told me that they use to put stones in and around the fireplace then they would put the stones under their beds when they went to sleep. He said that they stayed toasty all night with very fringed temperatures. I’m not sure what they put them on but I know the beds were high off the ground and the stones weren’t put directly on the wood floors because it would ruin them.

    • Sherry Jan 10, 2014, 3:02 pm

      In the Little House on the Prairie books, Laura talks about wrapping stones that had been heating (stove? fire?) in towels and putting them in their beds, near their feet, to keep warm.

      • Cindy Nov 6, 2014, 8:43 am

        They also used hot out of the oven baked potatoes to keep their hands warm and then they would eat them for lunch!

        • Andrea Nov 21, 2014, 7:50 am

          My dad used to tell me that his mother did that for him too.

      • Lori Dec 1, 2014, 9:24 pm

        I use homemade rice heating packs and warm them up before bed and put them under the blankets, usually just around the feet, but if it’s really cold, I snuggle one too.

    • SJ Smith Nov 7, 2014, 2:37 pm

      I was told by a family member, that the kids slept ‘up in the attic’. They’d all be given a hot stone or brick for their feet.

  • Melissa Jan 10, 2014, 3:24 pm

    I grew up in the mountians of North Carolina. Some of the winters were harsh and the power would go out. We would use our wood stove to heat the main part of the house, that left the bedrooms cold. Mom and dad would put several cast iron skillets on the woodstove to get them hot…about 15 min before bed they would take the hot pans and put them in the middle of each bed.(of course they took the skillet out before we got into the bed) By the time we crawled into the bed it was toasty warm and we would drift right off to sleep. (getting up to go to the bathroom was a whole other story however) 

  • Melissa Jan 10, 2014, 3:26 pm

    I grew up in the mountians of North Carolina. Some of the winters were harsh and the power would go out. We would use our wood stove to heat the main part of the house, that left the bedrooms cold. Mom and dad would put several cast iron skillets on the woodstove to get them hot…about 15 min before bed they would take the hot pans and put them in the middle of each bed.(of course they took the skillet out before we got into the bed) By the time we crawled into the bed it was toasty warm and we would drift right off to sleep. (getting up to go to the bathroom was a whole other story however) 
    We also used that wood stove to cook our meals on, and in. My dad would cook steaks on a habachi type rack in the wood stove. Honestly those steaks were the best steaks I have ever eaten.

  • dwightb92@yahoo.com Jan 10, 2014, 3:37 pm

    My parents would put a stone called a ‘soap’ stone on the wood stove and then wrap it in a flannel cloth and put it at the foot of the bed under the covers. It stayed warm almost all night and felt good on cold feet.

  • Cat Jan 11, 2014, 1:20 am

    It is a good idea but i would steer clear of the fire bricks as they have toxic coating. Normal bricks or stones  would be fine as you are not heating to the industrial extremes fire bricks were made for.

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 11, 2014, 7:32 am

      Can you provide more information or a link/source? I’ve searched around and can’t find anything concerning. I did find this, that discusses the dangers of *cutting the bricks and breathing the dust: https://www.firebricks.com/techdata/5B%20Corindon%20MSDS.pdf.

    • Jim Jan 11, 2014, 8:47 am

      Fire bricks do not have a toxic coating, they are just made from a clay that takes a higher temperature. Regular bricks have a high iron content, the red, fire bricks are iron free and have a higher melt point.

    • Jenn Brophy Sep 18, 2014, 6:54 am

      You run the risk of the stones exploding which is why regular stones and bricks are not recommended for heating up

      • Hot Coffee Nov 12, 2014, 5:02 am

        Fire brick won’t explode Jenn….pizza ovens around the world use fire brick.

        • Franklin Dec 1, 2014, 2:11 am

          I believe the reference was made about regular stones exploding. Many contain trapped moisture and will blow up. Fire bricks are safe from this.

  • chris Feb 9, 2014, 7:07 pm

    Wouldnt the extra energy used to heat the bricks off set the savings? The desired oven setting wouldnt be reached until the bricks had been heated up, so basically wouldnt it take as much energy to bring them up to temp as you would then get back? Sounds like a wash.

    • Ben Dwyer Jun 25, 2014, 4:05 am

      I can’t see the benefit if you add the stones at the beginning. As chris said, heating the bricks takes extra energy (our oven takes longer to heat up when it has a pizza stone in). However if you add the bricks when you are done cooking, they will hold the heat for longer than the oven would, so you’ll get more slow release heat, which is probably slightly more efficient. I can think of many better ways of saving energy though 🙂

      • seastwood Oct 28, 2014, 7:28 pm

        Uuuh… Put the stones / brick / soap stone on the wood stove as FOREMENTIONED.. AS HAS BEEN DONE FOR CENTURIES…. I COOK ON MY WOOD STOVE… I DRY LAUNDRY WITH IT…BOIL WATER ATOP WHICH IN TURN HUMIDIFIES MY HOME… IT LIGHTS MY HOME AT NIGHT….

    • dennis becraft Oct 1, 2014, 4:45 pm

      Right on.

    • Amy Nov 23, 2014, 7:42 am

      I don’t think this is necessarily the case. Compare oven cooking to microwave cooking (yes, this relates, stay with me here) — with the microwave, if you are heating more food you usually have to heat for longer. I think that this is largely because microwaves are fairly efficient and don’t have a lot of heat/energy lost as a byproduct while they heat. With ovens, or the other hand, if you have 1 casserole (for instance) that cooks 45 minutes at 350 degrees, it takes the same as 2 or 3 casseroles that cook at the same temperature for the same lenghth of time. So if you have room in your oven, you can fit all 3 in at once without increasing heat or cooking time. This is because there is a lot of heat/energy lost in normal oven cooking, so adding more dishes in just uses some of what would otherwise be lost. Similarly, the bricks or stones would “soak up” some of that otherwise lost heat and then re-release it slowly. It wouldn’t “steal” heat from whatever is cooking. So turning on the oven just to heat bricks might not be ideal (though even then the bricks would be able to release the heat more slowly for a longer period of heating), but adding bricks into an oven you are otherwise using is a pretty good way to store the energy and use it.

  • Anna Apr 22, 2014, 11:35 am

    The point is to add the fire bricks when you are cooking something else and then use the residual heat as a free bonus. 

  • Mike Sep 16, 2014, 12:28 pm

    Waste of time and money. The same amount of heat goes in to the house with or with the bricks. The law of thermal dynamics says you can’t create or destroy energy

    • Amy Nov 23, 2014, 7:44 am

      The bricks would offer the heat back at a steadier rate over a longer period of time, though, vs it all being released in a shorter, hotter burst.

    • JoeSnow Dec 1, 2014, 4:04 am

      That is not the point. The point is that if you just open the oven door after, all the heat inside the oven will dissipate in a few minutes. With the bricks, they will radiate heat for a much longer time.

  • Pauline C. Sep 18, 2014, 7:08 am

    Wondering if adding the stones while you’re baking, roasting or whatever would mess with the cooking time of your dish?

  • Dorleen Nov 2, 2014, 2:42 am

    I have a question for you………can you heat these bricks in a micro wave? If the answer is yes, how long would I set the micro wave for? Thanks, I love this idea. Been trying to find ways to heat a no heat sunporch in FL. Yes it does get cold down here in the winter. LOL

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 2, 2014, 11:46 am

      Boy, I don’t think I’d try it myself, but maybe someone more savvy than me will chime in. (And yes. I’m in Hawaii and come wintertime it gets chilly here!)

  • Glenn Nov 2, 2014, 6:10 am

    Of course, as you probably know, …water holds heat longer and better than anything else…(thermal mass….)….

    • JoeSnow Dec 1, 2014, 4:07 am

      Water also takes longer to heat up and there’s only so far that you can heat water before it boils off. Putting a pot of water in a 450 degree oven isn’t going to get you anything but a burnt pot when all the water becomes steam and escapes through the gaps in the oven door seal. You have to use something that can take the heat without substantially changing it’s form.

  • Anita Sep 27, 2015, 4:26 am

    I just bought a new wood stove and have been told that in this brand, the grates will break and fall down into the ash pan. My stove has fire bricks on each side and grates on the bottom. I need to know if fire bricks placed in the bottom on the grates will help protect my grates from breaking..Any advice will be appreciated!!!

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 5, 2015, 8:16 am

      Try asking the manufacturer?

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