See if you can find a storage heater they contain heat-resistant bricks. Maybe someone is throwing one out some where near you?L
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The Maoris in New Zealand cook with river stones in a pit called a hangi. These are heated overnight in a roaring fire to seal the surrounding earth and produce embers around the stones for when the food is put in.But the stones are heavy compared to other rocks and they dont explode.
Common rocks, probably not, there is a good chance there would be moisture inside the rocks, mixed with the heat of a forge you get exploding rocks. However, You can should be able to use clay. My old forge was lined with river clay. I just scrounged some from down at the river, slopped it in the forge then let it dry for a few days. once it was dry i fired it up and the heat from the forge cured he clay. I found that i had to re-line my forge every couple months, but for the price of a walk along the river i saw no problems with it.
I don't know if it would work for a charcoal forge, but another option I've heard of is using for gas forges is a mixture of vermiculite and furnace cement.
what does river clay look and feel like and how can i identify it...i was down at the river the other day and all i ended up finding was mud
The clay deposit I found is kinda orangy, similar in color to terracotta pots, but I've also seen it in grey and brown. The Texture should be kind of silky feeling if it's wet, sort of like mud crossed with plasticine, if you come across it dry it'll be harder than the surrounding ground, and could have footprints or other marks stamped into it,
not sure how help full any of that is, but it;s the best i can come up with right now.