Using Pine Needles as Binder/Insulator in Earth Ovens


earth oven with pine needles

When doing any project here on the farm we source material from the farm if at all possible. Alan and I had wanted an Earth/Cob oven for quite a while.Most instruction on earth builds or earth ovens, tell you to use straw as a binder or insulator.

The research we were finding was just making us put it off. It made it look like you had to BUY so many materials to go into making an oven. The order was to buy soil that contained enough clay and then buy straw...OR buy clay to go with the soil you have and then buy straw.

Alan and I have a love of the earth...all things EARTH! We had been involved in earth works or clay works for years and were intrigued by traditional process.

We had researched our Native American heritage in traditional fire pit firing of natural clays. So, we had already been experimenting with the soil that we had here on the farm. Then, that led us to search out our "English" heritage of working with clay. We were very impressed with the Welsh version of "clay work" and that their philosophy was in line with ours...USE WHAT YOU HAVE! We saw where they would use a soil with enough 'workable' clay and add fibrous organic matter to bind. They didn't say it had to be, Alan's next thought is why not pine needles?! The next step is try out the idea...make some test cobb/clom (this can be in the shape of loaves or balls).

earth oven with pine needles

We do not have access to straw but we do have plenty of pine needles. They need to be completely dried/aged...not green. These can be gathered up off the ground and stored for use throughout the year. In constructing our earth oven we used only soil from our property, which was a perfect ratio of clay and sand to make a workable "mud".

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