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Primitive Technology: Using Termite Mound Clay to Make a Kiln and Pottery

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He takes clay from a termite mound and fashions a large kiln and some pieces of pottery to fire. This is bushcraft at a very high level.

Wanting to experiment with an alternate clay source from his usual stockpile of creek bank clay, our man in the jungle co-opts the clay from a termite mound. The termites have processed the clay in their tiny mouths and fashioned large home mounds with it. He capitalizes on their hard work and raids the mounds.

Again, he uses absolutely no tools except those he can make with his own two hands. His ingenuity and primitive skills continue to amaze.

Interestingly, he mixed some previously fired clay particles – called grog – into the termite clay before shaping and firing it. This grog, he says, helps “prevents pottery from cracking as it dries and helps prevent breakage when firing.”

Also, he lifted his kiln fire up off the ground by using an elevated grate upon which to place the fire. This, he said, makes the kiln work more efficiently and enables one to achieve hotter firing temperatures.

One of the pots he made suffered some damage after firing, but it was still servicable and he used the pot to water the cassava patch in his garden.

It is also interesting to note that he found the termite mound clay to be a little more runny and plastic than the clay he normally uses. It has something to do with how the termites process the clay in their tiny mouths, leaving it completely free of small sticks and other detritus.

He determines that the termite clay is a satisfactory alternative, though it wouldn’t be his ideal choice because it appears to be a little too insubstantial in consistency. But he would use this clay for certain items such as bricks, tiles or even pipes, as well as to help conserve his limited supply of creek bank clay.

This man’s experiments in clay and primitive firing methods have been very educational and informative. I never realized how interesting I’d find primitive pottery and clay work until watching his videos.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

NEXT: Primitive Technology: Building a Bed Shed to Sleep on Out of the Rain

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Primitive Technology: Using Termite Mound Clay to Make a Kiln and Pottery