The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Fuel for brick oven question.

goer's picture

Fuel for brick oven question.

I read the bread builders book and it mentioned using unpainted wooden pallets as a fuel source. Seems a little iffy to me being as you don't know what the pallet has soaked up through the years. Anyone else squeamish about pallet burning or am I crazy?

Dillbert's picture

in addition to the soaked up bit - import / export regulations may require pallets be treated to prevent insect / pest movement.  not sure how you know if a pallet has been treated and/or what may have been used . . .

TheDoctorChef's picture

I have a wood fired pizza oven and have followed the suggestions of the maker to use fruit wood. Burns hotter than oak, but doesn't burn as long. Ideal for pizzas! I use Almond.

SylviaH's picture

Did you ever here the story about the family that roasted mashmellows on the oleander sticks...well it was not a happy ending.  Better safe than sorry.  Burn good fruit or oak wood...whatever is abundant in your area for wfo cooking...close by me we have a hugh wood company that supplies all...I prefer the oak for it's long, flavorful, clean qualities in my wfo for pizza.


goer's picture

Gave me an idea on a wood source.

ClimbHi's picture

"Found wood" can be a great source of fuel, but I shy away from things like pallets. As mentioned, may be chemical treatments  involved. (ALthough kiln drying is an acceptable form of insect treatment that would actually be a plus for you. I just don't know how the treatment of pallets generally, ane the pallets you can get your hands on particularly, is done.) While it's true that for many types of baking, the fire is raked out of the oven prior to baking, there's still a chance of lingering chemical contamination in the masonry. However, since the masonry gets up to maybe 900 - 1,000 degrees, that MAY be hot enough to burn up these impurities. Personally, I don't know enough about it to venture an opinion in that regard. You may wanna research it though if you have a free source of pallets.

Second concern is with the climate. Dry hardwood generally burns cleaner, so I prefer that. Pallets aren't necessarily dry, and they aren't necessarily hardwood. So you could be generating more polution by burning this type of wood -- especially if it's treated.

I've been pretty lucky in that, between my woodshop cutoffs and downed trees/limbs in the neighboorhood, I've not had to buy any wood for two years until recently. I still get about 1/2 my wood from free sources. You could check cabinet shops, your municipality's tree crew, local tree companies, etc. for free wood.

My favorite is maple. It burns hot enough and long enough to be a very efficient source of cooking wood. But cherry and oak (red or white) are close seconds.

Pittsburgh, PA