The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Terracotta Pot: Odd Smells? + What is a Pizza Stone?

SMNDnnT's picture

Terracotta Pot: Odd Smells? + What is a Pizza Stone?

I'm looking for an alterantive to the pizza stones sold at my local grocery store.  I bought one of those Unglazed Terracotta from Italy pot dishes  you put a pot on from Ace Hardware.  When I spent some time soaking and rinsing it, it gave off a pretty strong odor.  It wasn't a bad odor, but it's not something I'm used to.  I the smell could be used as an air fresher if needed.  Just to test it out, I baked something at 550F on it.  The smell transfered from the pot to the food so my food smells like the pot.  Is this normal? 


As for the regular pizza stone, how is that made?  What kind of material is used to make it?  Where can I buy that material besides a cooking store?  Is that the same material they use in real Italian high heat ovens?  The pizza stone box tells me nothing about the stone itself other then it's a "Pizza Stone".

davidm's picture

Sounds like the terra cotta pot you got was treated with something, no idea what, maybe even to just make it smell good. Or it could have picked up some contamination by being stored next to something else in it's journey to the Ace hardware. I would not use it for food myself, if it smells weird.

Pizza stones and baking stones you find in the kitchen stores are usually a ceramic mixture (clay really) fired at a pretty high temperature, They have no chemical additives to speak of, and the mixture is often pottery style clay with particles of previously fired clay added to give the finished stone a lot of ability to withstand heating and cooling. Some are entirely synthetic material, but are food safe. Yes, the stuff in high-heat ovens is similar stuff. Refractory fire clay is what it's called I think. It's not cheap.

Lots of folks use unglazed tiles as a baking stone. But since they are not designed to withstand repeated heating cycles, they tend to break more easily. They work though, and are cheaper by far.

Most folks I know who bake a lot seem to end up with a store bought baking stone eventually though. They're bigger, and don't slide around on the oven rack for one thing, and they last forever, almost, unless you drop them.

Let This Night Explode's picture
Let This Night ...

I've been looking all over the forum for an anser to what type of baking surface to purchase for my oven.

It seems that a clay unglazed time is an economical solution - though short term, because they seem to need replacing faily often.

A grocery-store pizza stone is perhaps the way to go.  I want a product I need to buy once.

Is there a cheap middle-groud where I can by the same material as a the small, round pizza stones in bulk from a place like Home Depot? (That's not clay, of course)

niagaragirl's picture

With questionable safety status of some import products due to harmful chemicals used in manufacture, it is becoming more important to seek out "food grade" accessories.

I know of a few who use those big household plastic storage  bins for proofing. These days, I would never consider it. There are some nasty fumes coming from some of that plastic. One guy I know says he uses "those tall white kitchen trash bags". Sorry, but for me not an option ether. One batch I bought (for trash) had some strange fine powdery dust all over them, and there's no way I'd use them for any food application.

Same with current import wicker baskets. They're not even real reed or wicker any more in a lot of cases. And if they are, they're coated or infused with chemicals of unknown origin. Better to be safe even if it comes with a somewhat higher cost.

DrPr's picture

Just an FYI- imported wicker baskets don't have to be made from reed.  There is also no such material as "wicker."  It's just a catch-all term for various types of grasses and the like, which are dried and then woven.