This page deals with adobe, the construction material. For information about the software company, see Adobe Systems.
Adobe is a building material composed of sandyclay and (usually) straw, which can be cast into bricks or shaped directly into walls using wooden frames. Adobe structures are easily damaged by excessive moisture, but offer significant advantages in hot, dry climates, as they remain cooler than alternatives based on more "modern" materials. It has many similarities to the Cob traditionally used to construct cottages in parts of England, but cob is never cast into brick form, and is also somewhat differently constituted so that it will survive in a wet climate.
Adobe can be pronounced ah-doh-bee or uh-doh-bee. It can refer to either the bricks, the material used or for a building made of adobe. Buildings made of sun-dried earth are common in the Middle East, North Africa, and in Spain (usually in the Mudejar style), but Adobe had been in use by Native Americans in the Southwestern United States and the Andean region of South America for several thousand years, although often substantial amounts of rock are used in the walls of Pueblo buildings.
This method of brick making was imported in the 16th century by Spaniards from Mexico and Peru.
A distinction is sometimes made between the smaller adobes, which are about the size of ordinary baked bricks, and the larger adobines, some of which are as much as from one to two yards long.
Adobe, sometime abbreviated 'dobe, soil or land is land, such as sometimes encountered in the San Luis Valley of Colorado which is a hard packed clay. During or immediately after a rain, a road in such land is quite slick, although not muddy as the rain does not penetrate the clay very quickly
Adobe is a mixture of clay and sand. Too much sand and the
material crumbles; too much clay and it will crack. To find the right combination experiment with the materials at hand until your bricks come out right. The same combining of sand and clay is used by Pueblo Indians to made the raw material for production of pottery or even to make molds for the casting of jewelry.
Bricks can be made waterproof by adding emulsified asphalt to the mud. To test bricks for waterproofing immerse them in water for 24 hours. A good brick will not soak up more than about 16 mm (1/16th of an inch) of water. To test for strength, drop a finished brick from a height of 0.9 m to 1.5 m (3 to 5 feet) to see if it breaks. Sometimes if the sand is too fine, the finished bricks will be weak. Straw is sometimes, even traditionally, added to the mix when making adobe bricks, but offers no particular advantage.
The biggest structure of the world made of Adobe (bricks), is Bam Citadel, which sufferred a serious damage, up to 80%, by an earthquake on December 26, 2003.