Russian Fortress of Brick Icicles

Danny Choo is a guestblogger on Boing Boing. Danny resides in Tokyo, and blogs about life in Japan and Japanese subculture - he also works part time for the empire.
This abandoned Russian fortress is probably one of the creepiest places I have seen. The reason for it to have such a strange look is because it was used later by Russian army to test the influence of Russian alternative to napalm inside of the brick houses. Due to very high temperature of napalm the bricks started melting just like ice melts in the spring forming the icicles, but those icicles are of red brick.
See more pics of this lovely but eerie fortress at EnglishRussia. Via Karapia.


  1. I seriously doubt those are bricks melted…. maybe tar? paint? napalm itself? crazy if it is bricks, any brick experts out there ;)

  2. Reminds me of the uninsulated attic of an abandoned campus building (since razed) at my alma mater. At some point the slate roof had been tarred and tens of thousands of tarsicles were formed. Four to twelve foot long ‘drips’ of sticky tar, just dry enough to have stopped running, most terminating at about 4 feet off the ground. We found them with our flashlights off. It sucked AND was awesomely creepy at the same time.

  3. At my alma mater, we had grease stalactites above the stovetop at one dorm. Just an inch or so, but still, they must have taken over a decade to accumulate.

    At the end of that year, they threw out all the furniture and sterilized the common areas. I think that we were the straw that broke the back… Great times!

  4. @ FreakCitySF — If you go to the site and look at the pics, especially the fourth one down, it is obvious that the bricks have been liquefied or more correctly, vitrified as mdh points out.

    It must have been hellish in there.

  5. 4th picture down, I see bricks and then I see the “icicles” coming off em. I like the tar idea better. To bad there aren’t any clear photos of a icicle brick that would be nice evidence. And then I would start to wonder about which materials the bricks are made out of.

  6. Why does this site not have a russian blogger?
    No offense, but a single cool English Russia link is worth ten Japan/tech/copyfight/whatever links.

  7. This is interesting, and I discussed the pictures with a few friends just recently.

    Napalm – even the high tech stuff – burns at 800 to 2000 degrees centigrade. Bricks are usually burnt at 1600 degrees and up. There are special furnace bricks that can resist temperatures far above that (hundeds of thousands of degrees).

    Now, one question is – can brick even “melt”. Maybe it would just shatter? The second question is: Since it doesn’t sound plausible that the bricks melted, what would be an alternate explanation? Nuclear bomb? Those can reach millions of degrees, but would probably blow the roof off.

    The only thing I can think of is a chemica reaction, liquifying the matter, or water erosion.

  8. The Summit Tunnel Fire, in England, occoured in a railway tunnel when 900,000 litres of petrol (gasoline) burned when the train derailed in the tunnel. There’s some pictures of the bricks that have melted — but it’s only the bricks in the ventilation shaft, the tunnel lining bricks don’t seem to be affected. Perhaps these bricks are stronger. (There’s a picture of icicle-like brickwork in the government report, linked from Wiki, but it’s really poor quality.)

  9. Bricks totally melt–you just have to get the temperature up to a certain point. I have melted small areas of bricks on a sunny day with just a 12-inch square fresnel lens. Making bricks themselves is sort of a controlled melt–you want to bind the ingredients together in a strong manner, but not enough to make too much glass. And if you want less melty bricks, try adding a lot of aluminium oxide to your brick recipe.

  10. @15 Hear hear.

    Weapons are designed to do bad things to people. That’s the whole point of weapons.

    Some weapons are designed to be “less bad” things – tasers, pepper spray, rubber bullets… but they’re still weapons, and they’re still designed to do bad things.

  11. napalm was developed as a rapid defolient and there would be no tar involved in the building of an arched brick vault. minerals react to heat differently based on various conditions.

  12. I understand but, to me at least and very subjectively, there are deaths that are more terrible than others and being engulfed in a sea of flames is one that still terrifies me.

    I’ve pretty much accepted my own mortality and I think that I’d be “fine” with dieing from extreme cold (I had a close call when I was 16 and homeless and it felt like I was going to sleep and that it was going to be such a good rest), drowning and other tough ones but burning takes some time, a time that must seem infinite and I see little opportunity then for acceptance as the suffering seems to persist until the last minute.

  13. technically when they fire bricks it turns them into a sort of glass a high enough temp i could see this happening

  14. eresting but I think you’re right they would just turn into Carbon AKA burn. Probably residue from other stuff who knows.

    Todd Charske

  15. this is possible. for instance, if you heat sand up to a hot enough temperature, the sand will melt and turn to glass. this is the same principle as shown above because some bricks are made with some sand and clay as, it may be of different density but it still has a melting point and when enough heat is applied it will start to melt and form stalactites on the ceiling.
    they also have a luster (shine) to there appearance which means it is a crystalline structure just like glass.

    that is the way i see it, I’m just stating my opinion. if anyone has a better explanation please add.

  16. Bricks are made of clay, and it does indeed melt when it reaches certain temperatures around 1100 degrees celcius (if I remember well) and depending on the type of clay they were made of (some melt at even higher temperatures).

    I have worked with clay for years, and I’ve seen the results of too high a temperature. It melts like ice cream…leaving puddles behind that eventually solidify in the last state/shape they are in.

    So yes, these certainly may be bricks and they do look like melted clay.

    signs: The ceramic artist

  17. Bricks are essentially clay, that is fused by heat. Clay is weathered rock that probably started under igneous or metamorphic conditions. Another possibility for the formations is that the sand in the mortar between the bricks melted. This would require a lower temperature than the melting of the bricks themselves.

  18. Vitrified bricks are used for paving since the 19th century. Typically bricks are fired so that only the skin of the brick is vitrified, this is why if you break a brick you will find the core of a different consistency than the “fire skin” At 1200F all water is driven out and the brick will shrink. The clay binder becomes molten, this state is incipent vitrification, at this state the brick does not flow. The brick material becomes viscous around 1600F+. And for the thing to flow then entire brick would need to attain that temperature. That said, I can’t tell from the photo’s but it looks very much like stalatcitite. Historical brick work was set with lime base mortar, if this was a cellar, or some type of construction which was subject to water from above, the water dripping will transport the lime from the mortar to form such stalactite structure

  19. There isn’t carbon to be purified to, mostly just silica (SO2)as bricks are mostly made from sand and certain clays (both with little or no carbon)and much like making glass with sand they have been melted by the heat. Think of it as making glass via flame thrower.

  20. Come on guys bricks can melt, they’re essentially rock and clay which can melt… What do you think molten laval is?

  21. Yeah I doubt its the brick that “melted” Bricks would just get more fused from heat. They’d only get to a point that they’d would get vaporized and it’d probably take more heat than is on this planet. Either its the cement or whatever thats was between the bricks or slime and dirt from above.

  22. Here is what we know:
    1) Russia tested something
    2) RUSSIA tested something
    3) Russia TESTED something
    4) Russia tested SOMETHING
    Is what isn’t to get? When you test, strange stuff happens and you say, “Hey I like that.” or “I didn’t see that coming.”
    I set fire to one of my kids old broken toys to see what the effects of fire on the material would be. It was a stress ball like toy moulded into a Pokemon. Well the paint chared and became a crispy mess (easy to clean up). The inside never solidified again. It remains a icky, gooey, sticky mess, that has yet to be fully cleaned up.
    Again, “I didn’t see that coming.”

  23. Its not inconceivable. I work with IR lasers in the 250W range. We routinely melt bricks used as beamstops. They melt into little glassy pools where the beams contacts the surface.

  24. @abq halsey
    LOL, you must be one of those that wants the natives in Africa, Asia, Middle East, etc to speak English because you’re too lazy to hire a translator or learn the native’s language.
    But it doesn’t surprise me especially looking at your comment’s history.

    But on the other hand, why blog when you can get hired by the U.S. Government as a Russian Translator.

  25. Looks like the ceiling in my bedroom in the morning after I have chili the night before…YOW! If ya knows what I mean…


  26. I’d like to point out that if it’s said that the bricks themselves melted due to the heat from the weapons tested there, it’s likely that it was tested to see if it was tar or not.

    Very nice structure though.

  27. bricks don’t melt, they have H2O in them so when they heat they almost pop little chunks off at a time

  28. When comes the post regarding God, sinners and the eventuality of hell? Oops, I did it again. Dear God, save me from your followers.

    Signed anon for good reason (God reason?)

  29. The bricks must have had a high amount of sand in the mixture to melt like that. Try sticking a steel rod in a sand bank and wait for a good lightning storm, when the lightning strikes the metal rod it heats up the sand around it, you can dig up some pretty amazing glass art work after a good lightning storm. So I could see where the bricks would melt in this formation with enough applied heat. Either way it is a rather cool looking place.

  30. actually its a mixture of both the bricks and mortoir. i can say 1st hand that brick and cement do have a melting point from an accident i had while cutting a drum in half with an accetiline torch. while turning the barrel i accidently ith the cement and brick patio for 1 sec tops and theres now a permant smooth circle of cement and red brick at my parents house. but for it to happen the way the pictures shown whatever there napalm alternative was they must have have called it quits. that much heat is way to dangerous to use anywhere.

  31. This is extremly wierd.
    It could be an attraction for a haunted house though or at least i think it would

  32. In the hellish firestorm created during the bombing of Dresden, Germany by the allies,during World War II, whole blocks of brick buildings were consumed leaving nothing but ashes. In other parts of the city the hulls of the buildings were left. Yes indeed if the fire is hot enough bricks will melt and even burn.

  33. i work in a react facility in ky for calgon carbon and our furnaces burn carbon at 1300 degrees which is brick lined.We see icicles just as these in side the furnace and i would have to say this is a chemical melt down of the brick and maybe just the chemicals themselfs.

  34. I’m a potter. Bricks are made from clay, which contains silica–or glass. The type of clay bricks are made from is generally a lower-fire clay, which means that they are baked at a lower temperature than other types of clay.

    Heating any clay to higher than its optimal “cone” firing temperature will cause it to melt and sag. By “cone”, I am referring to a triangular-shaped clay object that is set near the eyehole of a kiln. They are used as gauges to check the kiln’s heat level. When a cone melts a bit, and the top bends over, it means that the kiln has reached the temperature indicated by the cone’s number. A “4” cone would melt a bit and bend over at a lower temperature than a “6” cone.

    Clays are manufactured to be fired at different “cone” levels. And if you were a potter who dug some clay up from the ground yourself, you’d need to test it by firing it in a kiln at various “cone” temperatures, until you find the temperature that allows the clay to “vitrify” (form glass) and be hard and non-porous without sagging or melting.

    So, say you buy a medium-fired object, such as a “stoneware” cup, which might have been originally fired to just cone 6 and put it in a kiln. Then you heat the kiln to the temperature that you would fire porcelain–perhaps a cone 10 or 11–your cup will melt and run, much like syrup.

    Bricks are typically fired at temperatures much lower than cone 6. So yes, it’s not suprising that the bricks would melt and form glassy icicle-like shapes if they were subjected to higher temperatures than the clay was intended for.

  35. I think part of the US Bailout/stimulus is going to figure out this mystery because it’s so* important to know what a dead empire did in mad lab experiments years ago……..Or it being foreclosed on?

    What really caused it was a Yeti’s fart after too much of Elvis’ chili…….

  36. I think bricks would crack/shatter first and fall off the roof before melting like the pictures/author suggests.

  37. Have any of you heard of PhotoShop? That picture could have been of anything or any combination of things. And considering the terrible quality, of the picture, we can’t be sure that there used to be brick where the melted material is.

  38. Bricks melt, just ask my High School Art teacher. They just about ruined a brand new kiln on it’s madien firing. Long story short we went on a field trip to a brick factory. We got to take home bricks that hadn’t been fired yet so that we could personalize them. When my teacher went to fire them the kiln had a mishap and overheated, causing the sperate bricks that were loaded in the bottom to melt into one huge mass of glass. So I can personally attest to the fact that bricks melt, I’ve seen the aftermath of a brick firing gone wrong.

  39. I can guarantee those claimed “bricks” are composed of other melting materials….clay???…. It’s just like saying rocks melt…. ????…. I don’t think so.
    But I must say, this place does creeps me out.
    If you view this in an artistic point of view, this is one hell-of-a-nice piece of art.

  40. clearly, bricks can melt. Here is my reasoning..

    1) As someone mentioned earlier, molten lava is essentially melted rock. brick = rock

    2) Napalm burns at such a high degree that it would be unfathomable what it could do. (in the eyes of someone who has never been around napalm)

    3) the picture shows melted brick. (they arent napalm for the simple fact that the sickles hanging down clearly resemble the color of bricks)

  41. I thought glass was made of melted sand, basically, so why wouldn’t clay bricks melt? I think it’s entirely possible.

  42. It actually isn’t brick it’s the formula that the brick is made up of it’s like plastic only a more solid matter! and obviously it has to be very hot to make it do that and I do believe Napalm would do that. I know what your thinking brick is made up of colored cement well what holds the cement together? yeah think about it. it’s hard toexplain ut I barely got it in science

  43. Ok so I am not a brick expert, but did work in construction for 10 years and have a degree in construction management… by means no expert, but here are my thoughts

    1) when you “fire” bricks it is turning a clay brick into a solid birick and reheating the brick does not necessarily turn it back into a clay or liquid. There are a number of posts talking about the process of clay to brick to justify brick to clay.

    2) If the bricks were truly melted, I would think that the structure would collapse in on itself.

  44. I have seen a lot of bricks melt in kilns, even when exposed to relatively low temps for a short time – like 5 days. Years of testing at high temps would certainly result in melted bricks, especially those for building. Bricks for smelters and kilns are made of different materials than architectural bricks which would even deform in a hot camp fire.

  45. Napalm is jellied gasoline in the original form.
    White Phosphorus was added later for a higher temp burn and ignition source for the Napalm as it ignites on contact with atmoshere.
    Perhaps the experiments were using liquid Sodium (like the coolant in some Breeder type reactors ie: Phoenix and Super Phoenix in France or…. wasn’t Chernobyl Sodium cooled?) or Magnesium on a HUGE scale. IMHO, it would take an exotic metal fire to sustain the heat needed for that large of an area/volume pictured. It would have to create a “firestorm effect” like the Dresden fires mentioned earlier, in order to sustain oxygen flow. There also appears to be lime deposits on some of the “drips”… Perhaps from natural water mineral formations leaking through the mortar over the years.

  46. If you will notice the shape of the “icicles”, there is clear indication of their being shaped by heat waves. They do not hang straight down; they show curves and swirl shapes. Gravity does not allow this to happen, unless it happens very quickly, as when something is heated to a very high temperature and cools too quickly for gravity to take effect.

  47. Yes, that kind of napalm Russians used in Georgia last August. They burnt 4 thousand sq miles of 200 years old beautiful National Park in the heart of the country. 150 million Russia against 5 million Georgia! Blood suckers!

  48. there is still the possibility that minerals in the bricks formed a glass and that glass is what formed the “icicles”

  49. Where do you people get your information?Super bubble gum wrappers?Napalm WAS NOT originally designed to be a defoliant.It was a direct offshoot of the flamethrower.Leave it to the great military minds to figure “if a little fire can do so much just think what a lot of fire can do”.Unless you were unfortunate enough to come into direct contact with the napalm.You didn’t burn but instead were suffocated when the burning napalm took all the oxygen out of the air.Same way the flamethrower worked.
    Sweet dreams kiddies.

  50. it’s not the bricks, its the napalm gel itself.. you can clearly see the gel-like appearance on the left side of the picture.. bricks are basically made of clay, same clay they use to make pots, if you heat them at high temp, they just glow orange and starts to crack when temp goes way too hot, just like when you heat a stone or rock…

  51. If the bricks were melting they wouldnt have stayed in their place and this would be a bunch of rubble nothing one can explore

  52. Bricks can melt. I have worked in a Ceramics Studio. Bricks are made of types of clay. Clay can withstand great amounts of heat, but at a certain point they will begin to melt, depending on the clay they are. To verify heat in the kilns, little clay pryamids are put inside that melt at different temperatures. Since Bricks are not made of specific clays but probably a mix, some parts would be melting.

  53. there was just a thing on the history channel about high temperatures, and bricks are used to coat the inside of furnaces used for making steel soooo if they can withstand 3000 degree molten steel then i seriously doubt the bricks themselves couldve melted

  54. Cement can melt, so while a brick typically is not “cement” – it is similar. You can look for incidences of melted cement on the internet. Also, there are a number of different brick compositions – perhaps this one had a lot of sand or other compound prone to melting.

  55. Also people….let’s not forget that the article says they were testing “an alternative” to Napalm. Who knows exactly what it was they were using and how hot it got?

  56. think about plastic if you put it on the fire it will burn and become ash, but if you put it on the oven, or a pot it will melt, bricks do the same

  57. Hey, if that place was underground wouldnt that esentially make it a kiln? And if so wouldn’t the continuous testing of high temp fuels weaken the bonds in the brick/sand/clay gradually until they did that?

  58. Bricks are made mainly from clay which is a suspension of mainly silicates.If you heat a brick to a high temperature you get a surface glaze to form a waterproof shiny brick such as Accrington brick, the surface of which is vitrified. Heat it more and the whole brick vitrifies. Of course bricks melt, all this nonsense about cement, carbon and water is ignorant crap. Why do people post about something they know nothing about?

  59. You guys are cracking me up! “rocks don’t melt” Ha ha ha! Most of these posts are freakin hillarious!

  60. Nearly all brick is made from clay (a suspension of mainly silicates)with additives as required to give colour and texture. We are not talking about cement “bricks”. Some brick contains a small amount of carbon that vapourises during the baking process, as does the water content of the clay. There is no carbon or water in a fired brick. Most silicaceous bricks will vitrify on the surface (glazed brick such as Accrington brick) and then the vitrified brick (basically glass) will melt if the temperature is high enough.

  61. It’s experiments by aliens from the planet Suna.
    A probe was used and this gooey mess came out and dried like this.

    A probe up somebody’s Suna.

    That’s why it’s has the consistency of gooey dried hardened peanut butter.

    Animal Mother: You a photographer?
    Private Joker: I’m a combat correspondent.
    Animal Mother: Well, you seen much combat?
    Private Joker: I’ve seen a little on TV.
    Animal Mother: You’re a real comedian.
    Private Joker: Well they call me the Joker.
    Animal Mother: Well I got a joke for you. I’m gonna tear you a new asshole.
    Private Joker: [Joker does his John Wayne impersonation]
    Private Joker: Well, pilgrim, only after you eat the peanuts out of my shit.

  62. Ceramics are made of different clays with different additives. Standard redbrick is made from iron rich clay, which is then glazed and fired at relatively low temperatures (900C-1000C). Firebrick is vitrified clay that has had an additive such as aluminum oxide added to it. Kaolin clay is used to make porcelain. (Kaolin is also the main ingredient in Kaopectate which is used for stomach upset).

    Standard bricks would melt under high temperatures because they contain a high volume of sand which causes them to become viscous, becomming much like molten glass.

  63. It’s an explosion of a peanut butter factory, and the peanut butter had petrified after having dripped.

    Animal Mother: You a photographer?
    Private Joker: I’m a combat correspondent.
    Animal Mother: Well, you seen much combat?
    Private Joker: I’ve seen a little on TV.
    Animal Mother: You’re a real comedian.
    Private Joker: Well they call me the Joker.
    Animal Mother: Well I got a joke for you. I’m gonna tear you a new asshole.
    Private Joker: [Joker does his John Wayne impersonation]
    Private Joker: Well, pilgrim, only after you eat the peanuts out of my shit.
    Animal Mother: You talk the talk. Do you walk the walk?

  64. It could be the brick, or more likely the cement that holds the bricks in place. The cement appears to be missing from the bonding areas in between bricks. Just an observation….but it may very well be brick.

  65. ok… Why can’t it be bricks? Is it really that hard to believe? I’m no brick expert, Heck, i don’t even know the first thing about bricks. But, the ‘evidence’ that bricks can melt is there, and unless if anyone can actually prove it otherwise, i’m going to believe that bricks can melt… as most others can prove… And, the buildings probably didn’t collapse because only a portion of Brick started to melt. Enough to create the Icicles, but not enough to make the Strucure too unstable and collapse? Just a though, the evidence is there…

    As for Napalm as a weapon: Yes, it’s horrible, but so is War and death… Are we really complaining about that? No, We are complaining about the pain of this kind of death… a little irony there?

    Even though I, personally, don’t view these images as “Hellish”, I do find them impressive… It’s quite incredible! I really wish I could be there to witness this spectacular site for myself…

    Btw, I wonder what the ‘Alternative’ that they tested was… Oh well, I may never know…

    Sign: Autumn Composer

  66. its not melted bricks, its the gel that they use on napalm… just look on wiki what napalm is made of.. lol, bricks crumbles not melts.. just do some experiment if you have acetylene torch blue flames yah!

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