The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oven Tiles VS Pizza Stone

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Moriah's picture
Moriah

Oven Tiles VS Pizza Stone

I , like a lot of people am on a tight budget. I want to buy a pizza stone but I've read stories where people say they've bought their stones, tiles or bricks at Home Depot and they work just fine and are much less expensive. Does anyone have an recommendations or advice regarding this? 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've owned a number of pizza stones over the years and had good results with them. However, I usually manage to break them sooner or later, and although they are quite useable broken (as long as they are in multiple pieces!), I eventually break down and get a nice new one. I much prefer the rectangle to the circle. Recently, I found out that not all stones are equal: some appear to be about 1" thick while the ordinary supermarket type is about 1/2" thick. Since I currently own a broken, thin one, I've been thinking about getting a new thick one. I've never used the unglazed quarries.


--Pamela

Dennis_'s picture
Dennis_

Possibly someone else will also chime in as to what type of stone you can actually use but all you really need to get is one unglazed tile as they make tiles 18" by 18" and 24" by 24".

dtaffe's picture
dtaffe

I had also read about using quarry tiles, but my local home depot doesn't carry unglazed tiles. I may check with a local tile store (there is a granite quarry a few miles from my home with an associated tile store.)


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

The remark about buying unglazed tiles reminds me of a trip I made to a local Home Depot some time ago.  I was about to buy a box of such tiles for ten bucks -  until I started reading the fine print on the outside of the box. 


When I got to the warnings about the release of carcinogenic substances used in the manufacture, I put the box back on the shelf.  For me, spending another twenty bucks to buy a food safe baking stone was worth the peace of mind.


My only suggestion is that if you are going to buy any type of tile or stone that has not been specifically manufactured for baking and high temperatures, read the fine print and manufacturer's spec sheets first.

breadbakingbassplayer's picture
breadbakingbass...

I have this stone from Williams Sonoma


http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/sku1242981/index.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1%7C16%7C%7C%7C0%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7Cbaking%20stone&cm%5Fsrc=SCH


It's about $40.00 USD not including shipping.  I have used it for about 9 years, and it has served me well so far.  It is 14" x 16".  I have yet to find a better stone that costs less...


Tim

xaipete's picture
xaipete

How thick is this stone? Thanks, --Pamela

breadbakingbassplayer's picture
breadbakingbass...

It's probably about 3/8" to 1/2" inch thick...  It's got some risers on the bottom of the stone so the entire stone does not rest on the rack...


Tim

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Thanks, I'll check it out. --Pamela

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I guess the food safety/food grade issue with respect to unglazed tiles has been in the back of my mind too. Wasn't there something a few years ago about lead in pottery? I don't know if that applies to unglazed stones though. --Pamela

davidm's picture
davidm

The flurry of concern about lead was with respect to glazes, rather that clay content. And it was (is) a legitimate issue, you want to be sure all your glazed pots are lead free.


Very few clays have a high natural lead content however, so unglazed wares should be fine from that standpoint.


There are a few folks around here who bake, indoors and out, on the unglazed saltillo tiles that can be had for about a dollar each in a 12 by 12 size. They break after a while, but at that price, hey, no big deal. They are hand made, about 3/4  of an inch thick, and sometimes you find a kid's handprint in the clay, or a cat's footprint. They dry them outside in the sun before firing and, you know, kids are kids, and cats are cats.


I like, and use, the williams sonoma style stone mentioned above.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Having worked for 5 years for a manufacturer of industrial and commercial refractory, and having some knowledge of the components of those materials, I can tell you that lead is the least of your worries.  Personally I don't cook on any refractory surface that isn't sold as food grade (or has an MSDS available).


sPh

foobaz's picture
foobaz

First of all, thanks for the heads up on refractory materials. I was considering going this route too until I read your advisory. Then I found this through a supplier of kiln shelves (http://www.kilnshelf.com/advancer-kiln-shelves/refractory-ceramic-fiber-safety.html):


http://www.cdc.gov/search.do?subset=NIOSH&queryText=RCF&searchButton.x=0&searchButton.y=0&action=search


There you will find many articles warning of the health hazards of RCFs (Refractory Ceramic Fibers), natural and artificial fibers that are present in virtually all refractory materials, AND kiln shelves. :( Wouldn't go near it. I should specify that the primary danger is from long-term inhalation of silica-dust from the fibers mostly during manufacturing where cutting of the material is involved. The fibers are also an irritant to the eyes and skin. I guess you would need to wash it off when new and not cut it or abrade it in normal use. Scraping against it with a peel might release some particles. An MSDS for Cordierite, a material used in kiln shelves is available here:


http://rescoproducts.net/msds/SM-333%20MSDS.pdf


It seems this is aimed mostly at workers in a plant that manufactures the product. Still, caution should be applied.


I did actually manage to find a pizza stone made from the material:


http://www.amnow.com/Pizza-Supplies/Pizza-Stones/Deluxe-Pizza-Stones


It says it is made of "Corderite" (mis-spelled?) "a no lead fire brick material. FDA approved for oven use." So maybe a kiln shelf made of the material is safe but I would check with the manufacturer to be sure.


My second choice would be a Lodge 14" cast iron pizza pan ($48 at Amazon). Not nearly as cheap but my health is priceless. This seems to be a better alternative than ceramic because of the breakage problem. Heat conductivity is much better. Some one complained about cast iron not absorbing moisture like a stone but that's wack. No 500 degree anything is going to absorb any water I suspect. LOL. Besides why would you want it to? The whole idea is to VAPORIZE the water in the first place. You can ADD water to improve the crust--place a broiler pan underneath the stone while it is heating, then throw a cup of hot water into it after the pizza or bread dough is on the stone. This may break a ceramic stone though if the water hits the stone. Yet another reason to get cast iron.


 

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

This was one that Floyd suggested about 4 years ago. I have been using mine non stop since than and love it. It's on sale now for $29.95, $8.99 for shipping. Occasionally they have free shipping, but it comes out about the same price.


It's 14 x16 and 1/2" thick


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000E1FDA/qid=1126672200/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1?v=glance&s=kitchen


Betty

LindyD's picture
LindyD

That's the same stone I wound up buying - but about ten bucks cheaper now.


It's a nice, solid stone.

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

I have this stone, purchased in 2009.  It is still fine.  I leave it in the oven 24/7, on the bottom rack.  Depending on the oven you may want to move it up to a more center position - I had a really crappy oven for awhile that vented directly through the top of the stove through the rear burner and would not maintain oven temp over about 350 to 375F, hence the lower element was on just about 100% of the time for anything close to pizza-cooking temps - which superheated the stone, which cooked the crust way too fast and left the toppings barely warmed if I left it on the bottom rack.  However if your oven maintains temp alright you shouldn't need to move it.

 

EDIT:  Oh dear, a necrothread.  Oh well, LOL!

These are highly rated:

Dough Joe Pizza Tiles, set of 4

They are very well received by the people who use them.  The folks on pizzamaking.com pretty much deride them as allegedly "just $2 quarry tiles".  I can't answer to that, seeing as I've never been able to lay hands on any 3/4" thick unglazed quarry tiles locally.  I'd pay $33 for that, especially given I paid more than that for the thinner, if one piece, Old Stone Oven baking stone.  Ooops, $45 with shipping ...

Or there is the option of buying kiln shelving - new of course - though you will probably need to get it cut to size if you want bigger than 14x16.  Merely scraping your paddle along the surface is not going to give you cancer.  If kiln shelves could impart carcinogens to whatever you bake on them, it would be impossible to make food-safe ceramic bowls, mugs, etc.  Merely placing the greenware on the shelf and then firing it would turn every coffee cup in the land into a little cancer ladle if that were the case, LOL!

The Dough Joe tiles, btw, will make a surface of 12x18, which is just a tad narrow to my way of thinking.  Too bad you can't get a set of 6 - but possibly 18" width would not fit in most standard ovens anyway.  I've never measured my oven depth so I don't know.  19" won't, not sure about 18".

Spektor12's picture
Spektor12

I recently purchased a FibraMent pizza stone at www.bakingstone.com It's 15" x 20" x 3/4" and it cost me $70.00. I make a lot of pixxa and it's great, it holds a lot of heat and it's guaranteed for 10 years.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

My Pizza Stone, approx. 12x15 inches, was a gift from my daugther.  It's about five years old, and it's been well used


but it's still in very good condition.  Because it's "seasoned" it is vertually impregnable and I find it to be so useful for all kinds of baking support functions that I wouldn't be without it.


I prefer the squared stone to the round variety because I don't always get the bread/pizza centered and it makes it easier for me to slide the pizze off the peel and onto the stone more accurately. 


It's on sale at the moment (http://www.amazon.com/Old-Stone-14-Inch-16-Inch-Baking/dp/B0000E1FDA/ref=pd_bbs_5?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1234925390&sr=8-5) if you're looking to make a decision at this time.


I use it to maintain an even temperature range in the oven when I'm baking cakes, pies, or anything else; not just bread and pizza.


I originally considered using an unglazed tile or similar item from the local home improvement store but I don't know where it's been, whether it's safe to use for food items, and other issues so my daughter agreed that something specifically designed for the intended function was the better choice.

Moriah's picture
Moriah

Thanks to everyone who responded to my questions regarding baking stones. I looked around and ended up ordering one from Breadtopia.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10674/oven-tiles-vs-pizza-stone


 It was really reasonable and a good size: $69.00 for a stone 15x20 and 3/4 of an inch thick. I really thought about the unglazed tiles at Home Depot but can't bring myself to buy one - too many variables as far as purity, etc.


Thanks again everyone!

Slaquer's picture
Slaquer

I am wondering if a piece of steel or iron might be just as good, or maybe better.  Unlikely to shrink, droop, bag at the knees, or explode.  I supose it should be at least 1/4", in thickness up to say, 1/2". Anyone have an informed opinion on this?

Spektor12's picture
Spektor12

You could use iron instead of stone but the end result would be very different. Places like Pizza Hut bake in iron pans and Sicilian and Chicago style pizza is made in a pan but New York and Neapolitan style is not.


A metal cooking surface will transfer heat much faster than a stone, this is not necessarily a problem unless you want to make more than one pizza. As the pizza cooks it will suck the heat from the iron surface when you put the second pizza in the iron will not be as hot and won't bake consistently. The biggest reason to use a stone is because it retains a lot of heat and once you heat it up the temperature remains pretty stable. That being said I have a ¾" stone and I pre-heat it at 550' for 45-60 minutes and the first pizza still bakes differently than the fourth because of the heat loss in the stone.


The second reason for using a stone is because it pulls the moisture away from the dough. If you want anything close to a crispy crust you won't get it with an iron baking surface. Think of the difference between the crust of a Pizza Hut pizza and that of a brick oven pizzeria pizza.


If you like softer crust pizza and you're going to make only one pizza or you don't mind waiting 10-15 minutes between pizzas to let the iron re-heat you should get good results with an iron "stone".


If you like crispier crust and want to make 3 or 4 pizzas in a row you should invest in a good stone.


However, a cheap "alternative" to a stone would be using a pizza screen directly on the oven rack. Screens can be found at restaurant supply stores for less than $10.00. Put the screen on the bottom rack until the bottom starts to change color then switch to the top rack and bake until done. It's not ideal but it works.

Slaquer's picture
Slaquer

Spektor12, your response is most welcome.  I have deceided to order 3/4" earthenware "stone" from my friend, Peter Potter.  If I spent $50 or $60 bucks on a rock from hundreds of miles away my friends and relations would think less of me, Like I was, "Teched in the haid."


Slaquer, Bisbee, AZ

Spektor12's picture
Spektor12

I went through several of the cheap department store stones and got between 1 and 20 uses before each of them cracked, then I broke down and paid $70.00 for a composite stone with a 10 year warrantee from bakingstone.com. Hopefully your clay stone will hold up better than my store bought stones.


I usually use a screen to get the pizza started because transferring from the peal to the stone is very difficult. Once the bottom firms up I take it off the screen and put it directly on the stone. It doesn't get as crisp as baking directly on the stone from the beginning but it's still pretty good.


Good luck.

rcrabtree's picture
rcrabtree

I guess I'm in the minority . . . I have used clay tiles from home depot for a few years now, and as far as I know I have no brain damage brain damage

Spektor12's picture
Spektor12

I tried tiles as well, as long as they're unglazed you should be OK but I found the edges between the tiles too uneven to slide the peal on to get the pizza in and out of the oven.

Steve1322's picture
Steve1322

On the advice of some of the posters, I went to Home Depot and bought the Satillo 6"x6"  unglazed Quarry Tiles for 46 cents each. It takes 6 for a loaf of bread. Using the Cooks Illustrated recipe for "Rustic Italian Bread" I now am making bread that looks like it came from an Italian Bakery. Thanks for the advice.

janij's picture
janij

I went to Dal Tile and bought a case of 4" unglazed quarry tiles for about $20.  I love them.  I have not had any break after at least a year.  But I have enough for the whole block.  I searched on line and called and they said these tiles had nothing in them to worry about.  There was a little glue on the bottom of them that we burned off before we put them in the oven.  I broke tons of pizza stones and just got sick of having them break or explode.  Plus I was too cheap to buy a good one.

rts306's picture
rts306

Did anyone ever consider how much electricity or gas is used when one heats the oven for 45 to 60 mins in order to preheat the pizza stone?....I would prob only make 1 to 2 pizza at a time and could not see wasting all that energy....I usu use pizza pans initially and then remove them to place pizzas directly on the oven racks to finish them.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I leave my baking stone in the oven continuously, unless I need to remove it temporarily for some other oven use (think large turkey) and it heats perfectly during the preheat cycle (which takes about ten to fifteen minutes on my range) getting ready for the bread.  I typically preheat it to fifty degrees above the "coasting" temperature for my bread so there's no serious heat loss when I introduce the oven cavity and the stone is plenty hot enough to carry the heat stabilization responsibility.


If you're preheating your oven 45 to 60 minutes to achieve 450 - 500 degrees I think you're about ready for a new range.

baltochef's picture
baltochef

I have performed some informal tests on preheating my oven in which I always keep my 14.5" x 15.5" x 7/16" baking stone on the floor of the gas oven..Unless I am using it to bake a pizza or artisan breads, in which case it is moved up to a shelf so that heated air can circulate around the stone..


Ore Ida 1/2" square crinkle cut frozen french fries are generally recommended to be baked at 425F to 450F for anywhere from 13-17 minutes from a fully frozen state according to the package directions..


If I slide a carbon steel 1/4 sheet pan that is 1/2 full of french fries into an oven that has been pre-heated for 10 minutes (the generally recommended amount of time that recipes tell someone to pre-heat their oven), it will usually take from between 19-25 minutes to bake the frozen french fries to a state of crispness that one would expect to experience from a similar french fry that had been properly deep fried in a vat of 360F hot oil..


In order to get the results that are printed on the Ore Ida package, time and temperature wise, I need to preheat my oven for AT LEAST 20 minutes, NOT 10 minutes..And my oven is quite accurate as I test it yearly with a Taylor Professional Oven Test Thermometer..I know exactly where to set the dial in order to achieve a specific temperature..My oven bakes from between 15F-25F hot when set to a specific temperature..


If I slide that same carbon steel 1/4 sheet pan into a cold oven as soon as I hear the burner unit ignite from the pilot light when the oven's dial is turned on; it will generally take from between 35-45 minutes to bake the fully frozen french fries to a crisp state..


So, my informal tests have shown me repeatedly that I need to preheat the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes in order to achieve the best, and most consistent results..I save NO time, and INCREASE my gas costs by not pre-heating for long enough, or by not preheating at all..


It is my belief that many, if not most manufactured frozen foods absolutely REQUIRE a properly pre-heated oven in order to bake the food to the texture and doneness that the manufacturer has specified on the package..By putting frozen foods into a cold, or partially pre-heated oven, I believe that the baker is going to require longer than specified baking times in order to achieve the doneness and texture that they desire..Which, of course, costs more money to achieve..


Bruce


 

baltochef's picture
baltochef

My stone is 14.5" x 15.5" x 7/16" with corners that are barely rounded off..It has resided in one oven, or another, ever since it was purchased in 1998..Although it is not as dark from usage as some other member's stones, it has been heated and cooled several thousand times since I first purchased it..


It sits on the bottom of a gas oven to act as a heat sink whenever the oven is turned on to be used for ordinary baking chores..I believe that this usage has further evened out the hot and cold spots in this particular oven, which was already very even in the temperatures as measured in various places within the oven cavity..


When I desire to use it to bake artisan breads or pizza I simply move it up from its resting place on the floor of the oven to one of the shelves which is then positioned in one of the two lowest settings..


When it gets crusty I scrape it lightly with my bench scraper, or a square-nosed spatula (pancake turner)..Once or twice a year I scrub the cooled stone under hot running water with a clean scrub brush (no soaps!!), and place it on one of the shelves to dry from the heat of the oven's pilot light..


I do not consider that I have been particularly gentle in handling this stone..I am curious as to the reasons why others (Pamela??) have broken their stones..My stone cost me $14.95 plus $0.75 tax in 1998 at a local kitchen store in Ocean City, MD..It was by far the least expensive baking stone I could find to purchase, and was far less expensive than ANY of the mail order sources of the time (Baker's Catalog, Williams-Sonoma, Chef's Catalog, etc.)..


I would love to have a 15" x 21" x 1" baking stone to replace this one..With a stone that had 3-4 times the thermal mass of my current one I could bake back-to-back batches of breads without needing to wait as long as I currently do for the oven to come back to baking temperature..


Bruce

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Bruce,


The one pictured above as "Old Gold" looks like this now:



Victim of my having believed that I had it completely protected with parchment when I spritzed the baking bread with a mist of water.  Broke my heart.  I've replaced it.  But I'll never spritz again, no matter how well protected I think the stone might be.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Aww, that is so sad!


I hate the whole water to steam thing.  It's dangerous to you, your oven, and your equipment. 


I am a big fan of covering the dough with a cheap foil roasting pan, a cheap (from Goodwill) roasting pan lid, or a cloche (also from Goodwill).  They all work beautifully with no risk.  Some people spritz the dough first (OUTSIDE the oven) before putting it under a lid, but for highly hydrated doughs, that is not even necessary.


I hope you have such good results and a long life with your new stone.   

RFMonaco's picture
RFMonaco

I would find a ceramic shop and see if attaching with kiln cement and refiring at the cement recommended temp. would possibly make it usable again. Of course you can still use it as is, just placing the pieces together. Good Luck!

Slaquer's picture
Slaquer

So, I hunted down my friend Peter Potter with intent of ordering a stoneware "stone".


Pete pulled out an old kiln shelf with a modest crack, "Why don't you try this?


The shelf, from an electric kiln, is octagonal, 15" flat to flat, and 5/8" thick.  Pete never uses toxic glazes and if there were any moble toxins in the sil-carbide they would have been "cooked out" long since.  For 5 bucks I may have acquired the ultimate pizza stone.


I have always thought of bread-baking as entry level ceramics, anyhow.

Kent's picture
Kent

I have used a kiln shelf for several months, had it cut to fit the oven grate,


I was told it was good for 2700 degrees. Works great. Cost was $24.00


 


Kent

will slick's picture
will slick

At a resonable price. They are made for baking breads.


www.nybakers.com

rts306's picture
rts306

May I ask if you guys can smell a slight "burnt baked goods" odor when preheating your ovens with the stone inside?  I had scrubbed my sonoma stone with hard brushes several times....it has the usual brown/black stains.  Any suggestion as to how to get rid of this smell? 


So as not to add too much more stains, I now use parchment papers at the beginning of baking then remove them toward the end.


Also, my other smaller, round pizza stone had been used before for heating frozen fried fish sticks...as you can imagine, it had gotten greasy....any suggestion as to how to get rid of the grease?  slight fishy smell?


 


Thanks in advance for any tips!

thepizzamachine's picture
thepizzamachine
highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

I don't like tiles, because about one time out of eight I jiggle my peel wrong and the tiles separate a bit and then I have a  misshapen  loaf.  You can buy custom sized stones...they are great. If you are interested  in ca custom size, look on this link.  If you can't find them just send me a note and I will find this info.  


Pam

Yvonne99's picture
Yvonne99

Clay or unglazed tiles is no substitute for a good pizza stone.  A great use for a pizza stone is to grill your pizza on the grill.  An excellent pizza stone for this is a glazed stone.  You can prepare your pizza on the glazed stone.  The great thing is that you do not need to preheat the stone.  You put the stone directly on the fire and it cooks the crust and toppings at the same time.  If you want to learn more, visit

http://www.bestpizzasupplies.com/product/Emile-Henry-Pizza-Stone

We love our pizza stone.  We use it on the grill for our weekly pizza night.