The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

New Wood-fired Pizza Oven

s_l_cal's picture

New Wood-fired Pizza Oven

I recently completed this pizza oven in my back yard.  It's on a retaining wall because I didn't want to build a base for it.  The basic construction is firebrick covered with concrete/vermiculite insulation.  After trying it a couple times, I plan to add some more insulation.

I fired this up three times so far, twice baking something in it.  The first time, after 3 1/2 hours of burning, I baked some bagels.  I had problems with the first batch simply because I didn't have the guts at first to let it be close to the fire and ashes, and leave it there long enough.  It doesn't take much time, but I found it hard to not mess with it at first.

wood fired bagels

Last Sunday, I invited the in-laws over for pizza and made eight pies.  All of them were good.  They got better towards the end, just from the learning curve, and again, having the nerve to let them be close to the fire.  Anyway, it was pretty successful.  A lot of work.  A lot of smoke (I was afraid the neighbors would call the EPA on me).

One thing I learned (other than not being afraid of what the heat and fire will do to the bread) is that some quality hardwood is a necessity--oak, hickory, etc.  I burned branches and logs I accumulated from trimming trees in the yard.  Some of it was too soft and therefore smoky, and in general it just went fast.  You need some quality logs that will burn for a long time relatively cleanly.

I was too busy to take pictures of the pizza.  I will try to update later.

dosco's picture

Cool oven. What is the base? Firebrick?





s_l_cal's picture

It has a concrete base with red patio tile forming the floor.  I laid it in a diamond pattern so I wouldn't hit joints with the peel.  The tile works really well, and the dough doesn't stick.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Great job on the oven...Photos of pizza please!


dabrownman's picture

but you were right to worry about the EPA.  Their new regulations just announced the ban wood fired ovens but they might allow the Grandfathering in of old ones so get the time stamp on those photos pronto.  These whack jobs will stop at nothing to bring us all back to the stone ages but not be able to burn wood this time :-)

SteveB's picture

... so I investigated further.

“The proposed rule would not affect existing woodstoves and other wood-burning heaters currently in use in people’s homes,” the EPA says. “The proposal also would not apply to new or existing heaters that are fueled solely by oil, gas or coal, and it would not apply to outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, pizza ovens or chimineas.” 


dabrownman's picture

this little gem.

 EPA has a number of tools available to help local governments address existing heaters, including “Strategies for Reducing Residential Wood Smoke.” Issued by EPA’s Burn Wise program, this comprehensive document covers local regulations, voluntary programs, funding mechanisms and best burn practices - all of which can help reduce particle pollution from existing wood-burning appliances.

Here in AZ the EPA  has issued regulations for the region of Phoenix for particulates.  This means that in the winter time you cannot burn wood if the air quality is too low and when the air quality is too low the region gets fined by the EPA for each day the air quality does not meet standards.  In order to not get fined and keep the particulates low, the county  will; not let you burn wood on many weekend days and never on New Years Eve  or Day. Christmas Eve or Day , Thanksgiving Eve or Day.  Basically you can'l use your oven when you want to but you can when you don't  want to. 

This also dosn't count the government hoops you have jump through with set backs for structures and property lines and the approval, permitting and inspection fees the local governments pile on to try to keep people from building a WFO.  In my case there is not a place I can build a WFO on my property because it would either be too close to the house and or the neighbors property line and I have a quarter acre.  The one pictured is too close to the house here and would never be approved.

But these people will not give up and will continue to do everything they can to make WFO's a thing of the past to save the trees, keep particulates out the air and control global warming.  There is no doubt of this happening.  They killed nuclear energy in this country the cheapest, most environmentally friendly. and safest way to make electricity ever invented by man.  Not one person has ever died from nuclear energy in this country but no plants have been built in over 35 years.

Now they have taken aim at coal fired plants banning them and destroying the livelihood of coal miners, driving them into poverty and destroying economies where coal is mined.  Fracking and natural gas has replaced the coal fired plants that are closing but they are going after them too even though this technology allows for so much cleaner energy production that the USA leads the entire world in cleaning up air pollution over the last 10 years becsue oif it..

Even though there are over 160,000 miles of oil pipelines and another 2.28 million miles of gas pipelines existing in this country and it is the most cost effective and safe way to transport hydrocarbons that we need very badly, they are trying to ban fracking and a critical pipeline, the Keystone,  to bring Canadian oil to the oil refineries in Louisiana.  No new oil refineries have been built in this country in 35 years either because of these people.   They want us to go back to riding bicycles as the Chinese are finally able to give up theirs.

No logging because of spotted owls destroying the timber industry in amny places and nearly all iof them in AZ.  They wonlt even let timber companies gomin a salvage the wood after a forest fire for fear that the timer industry might comeback by thinning of forests to prevent future fires or harvesting good wood after a fire -so It sits there and rots instead.  No cattle grazing because of desert tortoises - what a joke.   Now they want to tax the farts of cows.

Don't tell me they won't ban the evil rich 1% from burning wood in their WFO's.  They will - it is only a mater of time - but until then they have other alternative ways to effectively ban them.    If you don't believe it...... you can keep your heath care, your doctor and your heath insurance will go down $2.500 a year .  Illegal aliens will be deported when caught especially especially those with felony convictions,  the borders will be secure, the Feds will  enforce dope laws etc etc etc....The list never ends and can change at the whim of one man's pen or instantly by the regulations of an EPA controlled by a single environmentalist.  If they can claim they will bankrupt and destroy a whole industry like coal and the energy plants associated with it and then actually do it in less than 5 years, without one law being passed - getting rid of WFO ovens are a piece of cake because those that own them are just as evil as a coal miner or a company that operates a coal fired electricity plant only worse since there is not scrubbers on those chimneys.  They arr just killing everyone else and don't care about it all.  This is how they work. 

Build your WFO now, make sure it it legal and do not build without approval, paying all the fees and inspections.   How much do you think it costs to get approval for a WDO in Gilbert AZ - not even close to a hot bed of environmentalism?  Take lots of pictures of it with date stamps and have all the paperwork and pictures recorded at the county recorders office just in case they get lost at the local building department ....somehow. 

It is amazing how much damage a few very whack jobs can donto hurt poor people but they really hate the rich and your WFO is on their radar screen and has been for some time - just like your lawn mower, grass trimmer and cow.  

gary.turner's picture

I guess in that case we'll have to burn those funny brown and black rocks. What are they called? Coal?


dabrownman's picture

coal industry with regulation and it is the process of putting a whole industry into bankruptcy ....just like the President said he would do.  This is one time you would have to believe his promise. 

andychrist's picture

You need to burn only seasoned wood, i.e. that has been left to dry for a while, usually one year. That will reduce the smoke significantly. And, as you said, burn only hard woods, never soft — they are too resinous.

Beautiful job on the oven and lovely bagels too, is that sesame? Yum!

four_row's picture

Let's keep this focused on ovens and bread. Zoning and air quality issues are certainly topical, but a critique of fuels management, the Northwest Forest Plan, national energy policy, and how regulations are promulgated by the EPA is better done elsewhere. I am happy to explore those topics more deeply in the off topic forum and explain why I disagree with what you have posted. But, I mostly come here to enjoy the wonderful debates about natural starters, the great advice, and to learn how to bake better bread with freshly milled grains.

That being said, thank you for all of the great contributions and help that I have seen you provide everyone!


s_l_cal's picture

I wonder if anyone has any experience heating an oven like this with charcoal rather than wood?  This oven is 30" X 42" X (16" at the apex).   I've seen some small portable ovens that heat with charcoal briquettes.  Until I run down some more seasoned hardwood, I might get a bag or two of charcoal and see if it is capable of heating the oven in a reasonable time.  I haven't bought firewood in many years, and will have to find a source at a reasonable cost.

gerhard's picture

If you are going to use charcoal use natural lump not briquettes.