How to use a Wood Fired Oven
How to cure a wood fired pizza oven
Curing your new pizza oven is a very important step after you’ve finished rendering the dome. It is highly recommended to wait for a week to allow the moisture to evaporate before lighting your oven for the first time.
After the installation, moisture is caught in the render and other components of the oven. If heated up rapidly to a high temperature, the moisture may transform into steam that could then lead to cracks or fissures.
Before you commence cooking, your oven must be cured.
This involves lighting a series of fires, which gradually increase in size and temperature over a period of time.
Never at any stage let the fire die out and the oven become cold.
It is important the temperature is built up from 50c to 300c as indicated below.
Heat beads produce a constant heat that can be controlled and burn for a longer period of time making them an ideal fuel to cure the oven.
Always light the fire in the center of the oven, so all sides receives even heat distribution.
- 30min at 50c
- 45min at 100c
- 60min at 150c
- 30min at 200c
- 30min at 300c
How to use your wood fired pizza oven
It is important to understand how the oven works and why it works so well for cooking gourmet food. The goal when preparing the oven is to heat it up evenly and store enough heat in the refractory so it can be released during the cooking process.
The food is cooked by 3 types of heat that are stored during the heat up process
- Conductive heat transferred by the firebricks of the cooking base
- Radiant heat released by the refractory dome
- Convection heat created by the interaction between the fire, the chimney drawing action, and the fresh air from the door opening, circulating inside the dome shaped chamber. So what we are doing is pre-heating the oven to the maximum temperature then letting it cool down to the appropriate temperature for the type of food you are planning to cook. It can take up to an hour to get the highest cooking temperature depending on the size of the oven and the size of the wood used.
How to light your wood fired oven?
- The wood needs to be clean, free of paint, glue or chemicals and only use dry seasoned wood.
- We recommend using soft wood to start the fire then hard wood to maintain the fire. The kindling wood to start the fire should be cut into lengths approx 200mm-300mm and no thicker that your small finger. Softwood is less dense, burns faster and is easy to light; pine is great to start the fire as it burns quickly.
- When the fire has started, use a hard wood 200-300mm length no more than 15cm in diameter. Hard wood is dense and produces intense heat for a longer period of time. Small logs can be used for maintaining the fire or when cooking without the door.
Lighting the fire – basic rules to follow
- During firing the door is left partially opened.
- To start the initial fire you can use fire starters or crumpled newspaper.
- The easiest method is to prepare the fire on a pizza paddle, then light it and place it in the center of the oven.
- As the fire increases add more hardwood. You will notice that the inside of the oven turns black when you light the fire, caused by smoke and resin in the wood.
- When the stored temperature of the refractory dome reaches approx 350°C, the interior roof will turn grey. This will continue down the oven walls until the interior of the oven is completely grey.
- When it is approx 3/4 of the way down, spread your embers across the oven floor to store as much heat in the cooking base as possible.
- Once the interior of the oven is grey, move the fire to the side and sweep the floor of all embers and ash with a natural fibre brush.
- Now we can test if the floor is too hot. A simple method is to throw a handful of flour across the center of the oven floor, if it bursts into flames or burns within 10 seconds, the floor is too hot and will burn the pizza base. You can lower the oven temperature by removing embers using the shovel or leaving the door off. Ideally the flour should brown within 10 seconds. When you have achieved this, the oven is ready to be used.
Temperature for cooking different foods.
- 300°C or 700°F is ideal for pizza
- 260°C or 500°F is ideal for focaccia
- 200°C or 400°F is ideal for roasting meat
- 150°C or 350°F is ideal for whole poultry
How to care for your wood fired pizza oven
- Make sure no water gets onto the cooking base. Place a cap on the flue and always close the door when not in use.
- The high temperature acts as self cleaning and will burn all spilled food, grease, any bacteria or bugs.
All you need to do is sweep the ash with a natural bristle brush or wire brush.
Basic wood fired oven tools and pizza peels
See all our pizza oven tools
*Wire brush or natural fibre brush
*Wood oven rake
*Wood oven shovel
How to reduce smoke from your wood oven chimney?
- Store your wood well Keeping woodpiles under cover.
- Select your wood well Keep your firewood dry and in a well-ventilated area.
- Never burn green, wet or treated wood: Green or wet wood generates 50 per cent less heat than dry wood, and produces more smoke emissions.
Burn seasoned firewood, which has been drying for approximately 6-12 months and has less than 20 per cent moisture content.
- Never burn old household rubbish, rubber, coal, charcoal, plastics, solvents, paints, driftwood and treated wood, as they can produce toxic and corrosive emissions.
- Burn a bright fire It is important to get the fire burning brightly and as hot as possible before loading on more wood.
- Start the fire with plenty of paper and small kindling to establish a good fire quickly. Keeping the fire burning brightly. A clean and efficient fire will have bright swirling flames and red hot embers, which will reduce smoke emissions from your chimney.
- Do not overfill your wood oven with large logs, add larger pieces gradually, and pack it loosely so air can get in. Large logs can smother the fire, leading to increased smoke production. Smaller logs will help a fire to burn more brightly and efficiently.
- Keep the flame lively and bright. Your fire should only smoke for a few minute when you first light it and then when you add extra fuel.
Flue length and cowl right selection
Flues, cowls and chimneys accessories
- A flue that is too short will not draw sufficient air to enable proper combustion. The flue should extend 1 m above roof penetration for the smoke to disperse well or 600mm minimum above the roof ridge.
- When the position of the flue is critical for the neighbours, the flue should be fitted with a venturi cowl or parallel rain excluder that encourages smoke to travel vertically rather than a Chinaman cap which restricts airflow.
- Venturi cowl encourage the smoke to travel vertically, giving it a better chance of being dispersed. A concentric shroud, venturi cowl or parallel rain excluder will allow the smoke to travel upwards and significantly reduce the amount of rain entering the chimney. Because rain usually falls at an angle, the rain hits the inside sides of the shroud, travels down the sides and out the bottom without entering the chimney.
See more on Pizza Ovens Flue kits, Venturi cowl and chimney accessories.