Brick mortar holds bricks together when building structures, and must be mixed in the correct proportions for proper adhesion of the bricks. Mortar and concrete are composed of the same basic materials except mortar contains no large aggregate such as gravel. The brick mortar must be used within two hours of the initial mixing to maintain the adhesion properties. Discard mortar older than two hours and make a fresh batch to replace it.
Place one shovel full of Portland cement in a wheelbarrow with four shovels full of concrete sand. Mix the dry ingredients together with a garden hoe. The actual ratio of this mix is one part Portland to four parts sand. Add 1/2 shovel full of masonry lime to make the mortar easier to handle and help it stick to the bricks better.
Make a rounded crater in the center of the dry mix. Fill a large coffee can 1/3 full with water (approximately one quart) and pour it into the depression.
Mix the water and the dry mix with a garden hoe to form a paste-like consistency. Water amounts will vary slightly due to the moisture content of the sand. Add more water a little at time until all of the dry ingredients are mixed.
Dip some of the finished mortar out with a hand trowel. Turn the trowel upside down. If the mortar clings to the metal trowel blade, the mixture is just right. Add a 1/2 shovel full of Portland and one shovel full of sand to thicken mortar that may be too soupy.
Replace Portland cement with masonry cement if you do not want to add extra masonry lime to the final mix. Lime is already included in the masonry cement mixture. Use one shovel full of masonry cement to three shovels full of sand.