The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Paving stone in oven?

woefulbaker's picture

Paving stone in oven?

Like others here, I'm sure, I saw an episode of Alton Brown's TV show recommending a 'quarry tile' for use as a baking stone. Having checked Homebase (DIY store) I found the following:

Standard Paving stone (materials unspecified - looks like reconstituted something or other)

Limestone Paving

Sandstone Paving (I get the feeling this would be a baaad choice)

Bricks (common garden variety)

Which (if any) would be the most suitable for placing in a (domestic) oven? 

bakerb's picture

A long time ago before I began to make Alton's Very Basic Bread, I purchase an unglazed terra cotta drain dish (per his suggestion), I used it upsidedown (per his suggestion), it worked fine, but I was limited by the shape, so now I bought a baking stone, which works the same, but gives me more room...Beth 

LindyD's picture

If there's a Home Depot in your area, they carry unglazed quarry tile A tile store probably would have them as well. A 14' x 16" baking stone runs about $40. Unlgazed quarry tiles are maybe a buck each, depending on the size.

suave's picture

I was in Home Depot the other week so I checked - $1.32/sqft - that's 33 cents per 6x6 tile.

woefulbaker's picture


Sounds like clay tile is the way to go. 

We have the equivalent of Home Depot in the UK (B&Q or Homebase) so I shall go looksee. 

I didn't see any clay tiles in Homebase when I was there this evening but they may just be out of stock.


JERSK's picture

  Sandstone probably wouldn't be such a bad choice. Some baking stones are made of it. it depends on the finish.

Oldcampcook's picture

My Home Depot cut my tiles to size for me for 50 cents a cut.  So take your interior oven measurements with you.  I would allow some air circulation area on all sides.

I put the tiles in an old cookie (baking) sheet, so I can take them out easily any time I need to.


sphealey's picture

I will just repeat my usual caution here. I worked for a number of years for a manufacturer of industrial and commercial refractory, and I am familiar with the manufacturing processes and materials that make up such. Based on that knowledge I personally would not cook food on any refractory material that does not have an MSDS stating that it is safe for contact with food. And I would think twice about using anything without an MSDS even for thermal mass.


subfuscpersona's picture

and why is it important?

sphealey's picture

A MSDS is a Material Safety Data Sheet. From Wikipedia:


A material safety data sheet (MSDS) is a form containing data regarding the properties of a particular substance. An important component of product stewardship and workplace safety, it is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, and includes information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point, etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill handling procedures. The exact format of an MSDS can vary from source to source.

MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) are a widely used system for cataloging information on chemicals, chemical compounds, and chemical mixtures. MSDS information may include instructions for the safe use and potential hazards associated with a particular material or product. MSDS can be found anywhere chemicals are being used.

There is also a duty to properly label substances on the basis of physico-chemical, health and/or environmental risk. Labels include hazard symbols such as the Saint Andrew's Cross (a black diagonal cross on an orange background which is used in the European Union to denote a harmful or irritant substance).


The MSDS for the products made by my current employer (which are not refractories), for example, states that they are certified for home and commercial food use where appropriate.


suave's picture

I general I agree with you - MSDS are dead useful, but I've seen how they are put together by my employer and in our case it is a mix of wishful thinking and educated guess, although what we make is never meant to go anywhere near food.

I do use quarry tiles, but always with parchment paper, and true sign of safety to me is the NSF seal. 

chez-jude's picture

At Home Depot, I purchased two 12x12 unglazed Saltillo tiles (.88 each). Having not premeasured, when I got home I discovered my oven was only 20" wide. So, thanks for the tip about having HD make a cut.

I went back and purchased six 6x6 (.44 each), and arranged them 2x3 and they've working beautifully.

I asked at the store whether they were safe for baking. They couldn't offer any info, so thank you for the warning to use parchment paper.

maxamilliankolbe's picture

I can't remember now the manufacturer of the tiles I purchased from Home Depot, but they were the 6x6 unglazed quarry tiles, and were something like .40 a piece.  I looked up the manufacturer online and got their phone number.  I gave them a call and asked them regarding the stones whether they were food safe.  They had me give them the product code (or some set of numbers) and they said they were food safe.  They seemed to know what they were talking about as well as seemed to have had more than a few calls with the same question.  If you want to make sure, find the manufacturer's information.  Home Depot's purchasing department should be able to hook you up with the number, I imagine, as well.



zhi.ann's picture

I wanted to start baking good breads, so I'd planned to look around for a terra cotta type stone, but maybe that wouldn't be safe?? I live in a rural area in China so don't have access to baking equipment like baking stones, peels, that kind of thing, so I'm questioning my past consideration of buying that Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book that otherwise sounds like it would work so well...

 any tips?

siuflower's picture

I think you can buy the traditional Chinese ceramic pot with wide opening and lid, try to get the big one about 5-6 quart size. Bake your bread with the lid on  and the result will very close to baking in a cast iron Dutch oven.  Try it and let me know how it come out.

Eli's picture

I read the ad located at the bottom of one of the pages here on TFL. Forno Bravo advertisement. Can you get the firestones at the local Lowe's or HDpt? I will look and post later. Hmmm.

josordoni's picture

It's not so easy here in the UK. I've been searching for a nice oblong baking stone, but can't find one anywhere, online or off :(  Best I can find is a round pizza stone, but that isn't ideal as I like to make batards rather than boules. 

If anyone in the UK has found anything useful, please let me know!


KosherBaker's picture

My "stone" is made of Cast Iron. :) It is your basic garden variety cast iron griddle that fits over two burners or goes inside your BBQ grill. It's less inexpensive than a baking stone, hold heat better than any baking stone and heats up faster to boot. Plus I never have to worry about it cracking or braking because I spilled some water on it.

dougal thanks for the marble/granite tip. I purchased my granite slab from a food supply store and it is basically my kneading "board". Didn't even occur to me that I can use it in the oven.

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