Yum Hey What's for Dinner Mom?: Building an Earth Oven a thrifty project!


Building an Earth Oven a thrifty project!

Or Cob Oven your choice really, they seem to be pretty much the same thing. Basically it's a wood fired mud oven, you can bake breads and pizzas in. We've been working on this for about 3-4 weeks now, on weekends and some week nights too. It's been mostly fun. And pretty dirty work.

We still want to add one more nice thick coat of mud on the outside but we were worried it was never going to dry all the way before snow. So this morning we decided to fire it up and try to get it dried and then add one more coat later.

The basic steps are: build a platform
-we made it counter high by building a wooden base from wood we already owned, then covering it with reclaimed bricks and sand given to us by parents who bought too much, the this was covered by a layer of cob which is about 1:1 sand and clay, watered a bit and mixed well
cost=labor and sweat

next step build the oven interior
-ours was made out of mounded sand, more of the extra from parents, this mound will be the size and shape of the oven's interior, we covered ours with wet newspaper mailers that came in our box for free, these keep the sand from sticking in the cob and give the cob something to stick to
cost=labor and sweat

then: cover it with cob
-cob is an old fashioned way to make mud bricks, we made ours out of sand and clay from deep under the garden, we ran out of sand and raided the sandbox with promises of fresh sand from the oven interior, we mixed it about 1:1 sand and clay, watered a bit and mixed well, completely cover the sand pile with this mixture, after the first layer is put on the oven add handfuls of straw to the cob and mix in well for structural integrity and add another layer, let dry for a day or two
cost=nothing but child labor HA! they loved this part!!

insert a chimney:  
-we used an old piece of chimney, how lucky for us! you can use stove pipe, we set a piece of metal rod through the oven, left to right and set the chimeny on it to keep it from falling through, add more cob making sure to mud up around the chimney and over the support rod
cost=4dollars--came as part of something else
keep covering: we added many layers, not really knowing what we were doing, but we sure had fun finally today we decided that hot dog it was time

build a door:
use some leftover wood to build a door to the approximate right size to fit in the whole

Dig out the sand:  
-this simply entailed a small tool to scrap the sand out and a strong back to haul it
cost=sweat and labor

The final layer:
this one should be a perfecting finishing coat, no straw just clay, sand and water--not done yet but will be up soon

So the total for our oven was four dollars, your costs may vary because we have a couple acres and we tend to hold on to things "we might need someday"

Now it's time to fire it up! Build a small fire in the front and once it's going center it and let it cook your oven inside and out!

We had a hard time getting the fire going, apparently you can't just stuff it full, you really have to build a small one and keep it going, and adding more to build it up.
Don't forget you'll need a good supervisor to watch out for you and make sure your job safety skills are intact!

I'll be submitting this to Southern Hospitality and Apron Thrift Girl for their thrifting and thrifty link parties. SO many great ideas, you should really check them out!
I also linked in to:

Peace and Love--


  1. Wow, Laura it is FANTASTIC!!!! Great job guys! I love that everybody helped and in the end it only cost about $4! That is such a cool project. Oh and the picture of the flames is a really neat shot!!

  2. I know you are a frontier woman, but you DO know it's mid-September right?

  3. That is totally wicked!!! Oh can't wait to try something you've baked in there! Awesome job folks.

  4. Wow! This is really really REALLY (yes it needed 3) cool!!!! Can I move in with you because this wouldn't fly in my apartment complex :o)

  5. That is so awesome you are doing that... Building an oven is one our dream projects when we actually get a piece of property that we can build on... landlords not very fussed on mud and fire on their balconies.

  6. This is beyond awesome!!! I love it! =)

  7. Wooow...that's beautiful. And I love that it's free!

  8. I'm so glad you linked this up to the hns hop this week, Laura...I am still amazed and am saving it to spring on the hubs at the right time...cuz I totally want one!! =)

  9. What a cool idea. Or hot, as the case may be. I priced one of those commercial pizza ovens once, the ones from California, and decided it was not financially feasible. Now you show me this! You guys rock.

  10. OMG! This looks like so much fun! I think I'd do it just to take off my shoes and play in the mud. But I had no idea it was such an inexpensive project. I'm really excited to see this, thank for sharing at Hearth n' Soul.

  11. Hi Laura! This is so wicked cool! i have a chiminea which i love, but making a clay oven is such an interesting way to cook. So traditional! Thanks for linking up to the hearth 'n soul hop, but I don't see a link back to the hop. Could you please put a link so others can join in the fun? Thanks so much! Alex@amoderatelife

  12. Laura,
    WOW - this is uber cool!! I know I would love to have one - I can hardly believe how cheaply you were able to make this! Way to go! thanks for linking this to the hearth n soul blog hop!

  13. Laura,
    I highlighted this post in a linky love post -


    thanks again!

  14. Laura - Once again, I've spent the entire week telling everyone I know about one of your posts. Thank you so much for documenting the project because I found it really inspiring! I'll be featuring your post this week among my Best of the Blog Hop :)

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