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Your Top Questions on the Wood-Fire Pizza Oven Experience

There's nothing quite like the experience of a pizza from a wood-fired oven. Especially when you're talking about one of our favourite ovens, the much-hyped Polito ovens

We get asked everyday by customers at The Pizza Oven Store about going for a wood fire oven and just wanting to understand about the benefits over say the gas and hybrid pizza oven alternatives.  And it's a valid question.

So let's dive in  as we explore everything from the worth of wood-fired ovens to the efficacy of Polito Ovens option, and from the best wood choices to potential hazards. 

Are wood fired ovens really worth it?

First of all, yes.  They are the OG, the purists choice.  They offer a distinct flavor profile. The high temperatures and wood smoke result in a pizza with a crispy crust and perfectly melted toppings. Moreover, these ovens are not just for pizzas; think roasts, breads, and even some desserts!  

polito giotto wood fire pizza oven in copper

If fact the longer you cook food in a wood fire oven the better.  Longer cook means longer infusion of smoke flavour.  

What is the best wood for wood fired oven?

In the United States, hardwoods like oak, ash, and cherry are the top choices. They burn hot, long, and impart a fantastic flavor. Always go for dry, seasoned wood for optimal results.

polito oven with wood store underneath

Top tip, if you can find kiln dried wood, get some.  It has a lower moinsture content than standard fire logs.  Which means she'll burn real good in the oven.  Real good.

Also worth noting that specialist pizza logs are available from some suppliers which are double cut meaning they are smaller logs perfect for the pizza oven.

What is a good wood fired pizza oven?

The characteristics of a good wood fired pizza oven will have excellent insulation, the oven will maintain consistent high temperatures, and ensures even heat distribution.

polito giotto in copper color wood fire oven

The wood oven should also be built with quality refractory materials to stand the test of time.

How long does a pizza oven take to heat up?

Pizza cooking temperatures range 550°F to 900°F, depending on pizza type. Expect an efficient wood fire pizza oven to get to 550°F in 30 minutes and 900°F in 90 minutes. 

polito oven in copper with wood fire logs

Thicker brick and refactroy oven walls will add to the time it takes plus how well insulated with vary the time.  A better insulated oven will get to temperature faster than a poorly insulated oven. 

How long does it take for a Polito Oven to get to temperature?

With a Polito Oven for example which has been designed and engineered for the home it takes around an hour to get to 900°F, which is incredibly fast.  

The beauty of the Polito Oven is that the 1.5" (40mm) refractory cement walls and floors are thick enough to provide a solid amount of radiant heat temperature and sound structure, but not so thick that it takes hours to get to temperature.  Basic thermodynamics right?

polito wood fire oven with neapolitan pizza

built  and as such so do the times take to get to these temperatures between wood fire pizza ovens.   

Also note that heating up times will also vary based on the wood type and quantity used.  The times quoted as based on an average.

Can you use cast iron in a wood fired oven?

Yes, you can! Cast iron is ideal for wood-fired ovens due to its heat retention properties. Perfect for searing meats or baking a skillet cookie! 

cast iron with wood fire pizza oven

The world is your oyster when it comes to woodfire ovens plus cast iron.  

What wood burns the hottest in a wood stove?

Amongst the many hardwoods, hickory and black locust burn the hottest. They're excellent for achieving and maintaining those high temperatures needed for wood-fired cooking.

There are different types of heat, light, medium and deep heat.  This comes down in part to the density of the wood.  Soft woods ignite fast and burn quick.  It's hard to get a good solid fire with just soft wood as the quantity of wood required becomes large.  

Softwoods, such as white pine have a wood density of around 350-400kg/m3.  This is great for starting a fire.  But we recommend using a lower density hardwood, like ash as kindling.

Medium density hardwoods, such as oak, ash and hickory have a wood density of around 500-700kg/m3.  This type of wood is good for getting a rolling flame on the dome of the oven and cooking pizzas like Romana and Neapolitan.

High density hardwoods, such as beech, cherry and gum trees have a wood density of around 700-900kg/m3.  These are great to establish fires that have a long lasting deep heat.  You have to have a solid fire built before putting on high density logs.

Can I use pine in a wood fired pizza oven?

We recommend using a lower density hardwood, such as ash, cut into small 0.5" - 1" diameter pieces at twelve inches long to use for kindling.

While you can use pine, it's not recommended. Pine burns quickly and at lower temperatures. Moreover, it can leave a resinous taste on the food. Stick to hardwoods for the best results.

How long does a wood fired oven stay hot?

A high-quality wood fired oven can retain heat for hours after the fire is out. For instance, commerical wood fire ovens can remain hot enough for slow-roasting or baking even the day after being lit.

copper color polito giotto wood fired oven with benchstand at the block tv show

Most decent wood fire ovens will still have some radiant heat and the fire bricks or refractory material will be very dry from the previous days fire.  This means that getting the oven back to temperature the next day will take literally minutes from a fire.

Do wood fire ovens create creosote?

Yes, wood fire ovens can produce creosote, especially when using wet or resinous wood. Regular cleaning and maintenance can help in reducing its build-up.

black polito oven with creasote inside

Does a wood fired oven need a chimney?

Absolutely. A chimney or flue is crucial for ventilation. It ensures that smoke is directed away, allows for better air flow, and improves the efficiency of the burn.

black polito oven with flue through roof

If there's one thing clear, it's that the art of wood-fired cooking is a journey. Whether you're a wood fire oven purist or not, there's a world of smoky, crispy, cheesy delights waiting for you. Happy baking! 

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