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How To Care For Wood Pizza Ovens

You are going to find that you get a great deal of enjoyment with cooking in the wood pizza ovens so you won't mind the little effort you will need to put into its care. There are some dos and don'ts when it comes to the maintenance of this type of oven. If you follow these steps, you should find that your wood burning oven will be a top performer for a very long time.

When Your Wood Oven Arrives

The care that you will need to give to this cooking vessel begins when you are going to set it up. There are many different makes and models, so there will be specific instructions that come with each of them. These instructions must be carefully followed.

Setting Up Your Home Wood Fired Pizza Oven

 If you have purchased a countertop wood burning pizza oven, you will want a sturdy stand for it to sit on. Or you may be using this indoors where the countertop will be ideal. To properly care for your wood oven, you want to make sure the table it will be sitting on is strong enough. Some of these ovens weigh over 1,000 pounds. Even the mobile home wood fired pizza oven can be heavy. Some manufacturers make pizza oven tables to complement their wood oven products. If you are not going with one of these, you can build one out of cinder blocks.

Curing Your Wood Burning Oven

Again, it is essential to follow the instructions that came with your oven. It may give you specific instructions for curing. This is a procedure that takes the moisture out of the mortar used in the construction of the product. Here are some tips for curing your oven

Can A Pizza Oven Be Too Hot?

The answer to this is yes when going through the curing process for the pizza oven. The curing procedure should be spread out over five days. If the oven becomes too hot too quickly when curing, it can cause the dome's interior to crack.

Five Day Curing

The recommended procedure is to increase the oven's heat each day, with the goal being to reach the temperature of 250C or 480F by day five. Each day the desired temperature for that day should be maintained for about four to five hours.

Five Day Daily Temperature Goals

Day One – bring the temperature up to 140F/60C

Day Two – bring the temperature up to 100C/215F

Day Three – bring the temperature up to 150C/300F

Day Four – bring the temperature up to 200C/400F

Day Five – bring the temperature up to 250C/480C

Fire Starting The Wood Oven

When starting the fire for the curing process, it is best to use dry hardwood for your home fired pizza oven that has been appropriately seasoned. Which, in most cases, means letting the wood dry six months to a year, depending on the type of wood. 

When stacking the wood, be sure to leave enough room for air to flow through the stack. You want the air to flow under the wood and push upwards. This allows the fire to get more oxygen, and it will burn longer. 

Maintaining The Temperature

You want to maintain the temperature that you have set the goal for. To do this, you can regulate the heat by opening the door to allow for more air to increase the temperature. If you only need to bring the temp up slightly, then keep the air holes open.

To reduce the heat, you can close the air holes and the door.

Keep checking the temperature to make sure you are maintaining the right temp for that day. Many wood ovens come with a temperature gauge built-in. Or you can buy alaser thermometer.

Remember to maintain the desired temperature for four to five hours.

Once the time has been completed, you can close the flue on the chimney and the door and the vents.

When your wood burning pizza oven has been set up and cured, you are ready to start enjoying many wonderful cooking experiences. To begin with, first choosing the right firewood, then start the fire properly.

Using The Right Firewood For Your Wood Burning Pizza Oven

To have the best success with your wood burning pizza oven, you want to use the right species of wood and wood that has been seasoned. Most experts recommend using hardwood. Don't use woods that have a lot of sap or oil content to them. These do not burn well, and they can make it difficult to clean your oven. Hardwood will allow you to reach and maintain the temperatures you desire for what you are cooking. Plus, it will be a lot easier to clean the oven when you have used the right wood.

Starting The Fire Properly

This is an important component of how to care for your home wood burning pizza oven. If you do not do it properly, it can smolder and cause too much smoke, making it difficult to clean. 

Cleaning The Wood Burning Pizza Oven

Cleaning your pizza oven will not be a nasty chore if you follow all the steps for caring for this type of oven. There are two sections that will need cleaning.

The Front Of The Wood Oven

The front of the oven can end up with a collection of soot. It makes this beautiful oven unattractive, but there are two standard methods for cleaning this area.

Method One Uses Heat

Whether you should use this method or not will depend on the make and model of your wood pizza oven. Again, it is wise to refer to the instruction book to see if any exterior cleaning instructions have been given. This method is best suited for those ovens that have a brick exterior. 

Just as the high heat of 350 degrees in the oven burns off the soot in the pizza oven's interior, the same concept can be used for the front of the oven. It means getting the front up to the same temperature.

The soot does not burn off of this area when the internal temperature of the wood burning pizza oven is high because of the way these wood burning ovens are designed. They are made, so they retain their heat on the inside.

  • Start by building your fire as you normally would. Then let the oven get up to the high temperature.
  • Next, you will want to bring the hot embers from the fire towards the front of the oven.
  • Put some extra wood onto the hot embers. 
  • Then place the door in front of the opening. But do not close tightly. You want to leave about a one-inch gap so the air can provide oxygen to the fire and keep it burning.Enough heat will be created to burn some of the soot off, but it won't get hot enough to clean it off completely.
  • You can now use a propane torch to heat the area being cleaned to remove the remainder of the soot.

Be careful not to over heat the bricks as this can alter the color of them.

Method Two Uses Soap and Water

This is a better method that creates less risk of damaging the finish on your wood burning pizza oven.  It is a much harder method as it takes some scrubbing.

You will need:

  • A scouring pad: Make sure it's a non-scratch type. Also, make sure it doesn't leave any of its coloring on the surface.
  • Soap and Hot Water: The best to use is dishwashing soap as this doesn't contain any harsh chemicals that could damage the surface.
  • Dry Cloths: To remove the dampened soot and dry the surface.


What To Do:

  • Wring out the scouring pad that has been soaked in the soap and water 
  • Then using a little bit of elbow grease scour the area that you are cleaning in small sections
  • As soon as you complete cleaning the one section dry this with the dry cloth
  • Repeat for the next section.

With either method, don't expect to get all of the soot totally off. This surface is often porous, and the soot penetrates it to where cleaning methods can not get at it.

The Inside Of The Oven

The inside of the oven will need cleaning as well.

Cleaning The Oven Floor

The wood oven floor will stain from debris from the fire and mostly from the food that is being cooked in it.  This can be bits of food and oils from the food. The easiest way to clean this is with fire.

  • Build your fire as you normally would 
  • Once it has gotten really hot, you will pull the hot ashes towards the front of the oven
  • You can close the door keeping a small gap open so the air can fuel the embers to keep them hot, which they are doing the cleaning job. It will generally take about 25 minutes
  • You can then push the embers to the back of the oven
  • If you notice that all the stains have not been removed, you can repeat it by pulling the embers back to this section. You may need to add a little more wood to get the fire hot enough once again. The temperature for achieving this is around 350 degrees

The embers' heat will burn off any stuck on food and absorb the oils that are creating the oil stains.

When To Clean Your Wood Pizza Oven

You need to do the basic cleaning, which is removing the ashes once thewoodburning pizza ovenhas cooled. This is something you should set as a rule for yourself. Leaving the old ashes in the oven when starting a new fire for your next cooking can affect the quality of the food you are making. It can also interfere with getting your oven up to temperature.

Using The Right Tools For YourWood Burning Pizza Oven

Another area to think about when it comes to caring for your wood burning pizza oven is the tools you will use with it. You want to buy those that have been designed specifically for the wood burning pizza ovens. These are made so they won't damage it. Plus, they can withstand the heat that they will be subjected to. Some of the most used tools to assist with cleaning are:

  • Pizza Peel. This is the utensil that is used for sliding the food in and out of the oven.
  • Ash Rake: Used to move the wood around in the oven and to remove the cinders
  • Oven brush: There are a lot of differences in opinion when it comes to the oven brush. Some feel that wire brushes are too abrasive. When buying this item, it is important to check that the brush has claims that it will not scratch or damage the oven's surface.

Minor Repairs of Cracks For The Wood Burning Oven

If you have purchased your outdoor pizza oven from a quality dealer, you may have received a Crack Repair Kit. Don't worry, as it is common for the outdoor wood pizza ovens to crack due to the heat. It doesn't mean that you bought an inferior oven.

Properly curing the oven will reduce cracking, but there will likely be some very thin cracks that will form. You can leave these as they will not affect the performance of the oven. If you want to repair them, then using a patch kit will be the solution.

How the repair kits are used will depend on the brand. A quality product is the Utrafire Repair Kit.

This product is brushed on to the outside of the pizza oven's dome, where the cracks can be seen.

The oven has to be hot.

Each brand of crack repair will have its instructions that need to be followed.

There seems to be a lot of steps when it comes to caring for the home wood fired pizza oven but they are quick and easy. The best approach is to set a routine for the maintenance for your wood pizza oven. Also, remember that after each use of the woodburning pizza oven that you should remove the ashes once the oven has cooled.

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