Brick Factory

99 Counties | FIND Iowa
Mar 5, 2024 | 02:55
Question:

Why are bricks a good building material?

Brick is one of the oldest building materials in the world. Learn about brick construction at the United Brick and Tile Company.

Transcript

Abby Brown:

One of the oldest known building materials in the world is brick. It's used to make homes, and buildings, and even roads. Today we're going to take a tour and learn how bricks are made. In the late 1800s there were over 300 brick and tile factories in Iowa. Today there are only two. One of them is here in Dallas County. My friend Gregg and I have our safety gear on, we're inside the factory. Gregg, how long has this place been here?

Gregg Koele:

We have been here for over 100 years now.

Abby:

Wow! and here is the perfect place for a brick factory because you  need to get something out of the earth that's perfect for bricks?

Gregg:

That's true, we need clay and here in Adel we actually have a red clay and a blue clay that we mix together. To see the brick that is coming behind us, the whole process is you're gonna take your clay, mix it together, throw some water in there, and take all the air out of it.

Abby:

Okay so by taking the air out of it, it gets harder. And then how do we take the water out of it?

Gregg:

So to take the water out you need a lot of heat. So what we'll do is we'll take the green brick with the water and run it through our dryer for 36 hours to get it down to two tenths of a percent of moisture, and then we'll go into the kiln for another 36 hours to take the rest of the water out of it.

Abby:

How hot is it in the kiln?

Gregg:

Our kiln will run anywhere from 1980 degrees up to 2040 degrees.

Abby:

What's happening behind us?

Gregg:

So right now as this car was just made, so that has all the water in it yet, you'll see it's got that brown color like mud, and it's going to go to get ready to be dried.

Abby:

And you can actually see the difference between green brick, which still has air and water in it, and the red brick which does not. Gregg, this is such a unique opportunity can anybody come and get a tour?

Gregg:

Yes you can. Just contact our front office and, if you have a big enough group, we'll get something lined up.

Abby:

Awesome! We, uh, better go.

Gregg:

Yes we do.

Abby:

Wow I learned so much today. Next time you see a brick building, or a brick road, think about what all went into making just one of those bricks.

Every county in Iowa has a solid story to tell. Thank you for exploring Dallas County with me.