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___Fire Building___ - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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___Fire Building___

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  • ___Fire Building___

    I'm not sure that this is the correct forum area to post, so if somone could advise of a more appropriate area.

    My question is regarding actual fire building. I am a new oven owner which is already installed and I have had a few fires to dry the material.

    I would like to know what is the best technique for creating a good oven fire.
    I am aware that only good hard wood should be used in the oven but don't know exactly how to get an efficient fire going. I have lit plenty of camp and bond fires starting with the smaller kindling woods but I would think there must be a better way for use in the oven. I do have a charcoal stater for a grill where you can condense the coals in order to get the tightly grouped and evenly hot. I read on the site that charcoal os not a permissible material in the oven????
    Hoping for some good advise from all the experienced seasoned users out there.
    Many thanks!

  • #2
    Re: ___Fire Building___

    I typically fire up my 40 incher this way:

    - Determine the time you want to put the first pizza on = H hour.
    - H hour minus 2 1/2: start a small campfire sized fire near the entrance about 1/3 of the way into the oven. Keep this small fire going for about 1 hour. Then push it to the middle of the oven.
    - H hour minus 1 1/2: Load it up. Use well seasoned firewood split down to about 3 inches across at the ends. I stack it in "tee pee" style. I put in a good cubic foot of wood - a big arm full. It should just about fill the oven to capacity with wood. You will get a good gout of smoke initially until it all catches, this will last about 10 - 15 min. When the fire is at its height, flames should be intense enough that they are licking out of the top of the oven and your wife and children are afraid. It will burn down to coals in about 1 hour.
    - H minus 1/2 hour. Push the coals to the back. Use your copper brush to sweep the ash to the back. Wrap the brush in an old wet tea towel and give the floor a quick swab.
    - Put your door on and wait 15 to 20 min for the temperature to equalize a bit. Check middle of floor temperature with an infrared thermometer. If the floor temperature is between 700 and 850 start cooking. If it is hotter, wait a bit.
    - I don't add anymore wood while cooking. I find my oven has enough retained heat to cook 30 pizzas in a row.

    As to wood, any well seasoned firewood will do. You don't necessarily need to use hardwood.

    You noted that you had a "few" fires to cure the oven. Your oven will need a lot more than that to become cured (see thread on curing). Until it is fully cured and dried it will not retain heat.

    Last edited by Neil2; 03-23-2012, 03:55 PM.


    • #3
      Re: ___Fire Building___

      Also a damp oven does not fire particularly well.
      Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


      • #4
        Re: ___Fire Building___

        I take the Boy scout method - stack it high and use a weed burner -

        I usually have my logs down in the bottom and then a pile of 1 to 2 inch sticks on top to pile. Kick the weed burner on for about 5 minutes on a medium low and get the fire going. Once it sustains, burner out and life is happy. Too much propane and there will not be enough oxygen and the flame goes out (pushing the limits of lower flammable range) which could create a situation where an explosion may occur.

        PLEASE NOTE: I am a professional when it comes to combustion and work at a copper smelter with huge burners in extreme conditions. DISCLAIMER:If you try this - I, nor the website owners or others associated with this site can be held liable for any users inability(stupidity) to use flammable materials in a controlled manner. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

        and now, back to our regular program!
        Jen-Aire 5 burner propane grill/Char Broil Smoker

        Follow my build Chris' WFO


        • #5
          Re: ___Fire Building___

          I tend to over think these type of things, but here is how I fire my oven based on tons of fires in two ovens and lots of research on wood fired kilns, pyrolysis and gasification.

          I start a small fire stacked like a log cabin in the middle of the oven. I let this burn down to nearly all coals with just a bit of live fire left. The goal here is to get a good bed of coals going and leave a little live flame to quickly start the new wood additions. I then push this to the back of the oven and begin adding wood 3-4 sticks at a time. Once the wood I've added is at a full flame I add more. As the wood burns down and the coal bed builds up I begin raking the coals forward and eventually cover the entire floor. This serves two functions, it heat the oven floor directly via conduction AND it preheat the cold fresh air which is naturally at the bottom of the oven. Once I get to this point I simply continue adding wood until the oven is up to temperature and heat saturated. The theory behind it is pretty simple. The coals preheat the incoming air leading to increased efficiency. The preheated air funnels to the back of the oven where the fresh wood is under going pyrolysis and mixes with the gases creating intense blue flame which heats the dome. The fresh wood as at the back so the flame travels all the way to the front of the oven giving off as much heat as possible before going up the flue. The coals also heat the floor via conduction as already mentioned.


          • #6
            Re: ___Fire Building___

            This has been discussed quite a bit. James posted this some time ago and it works for me. It's called the top down method.


            Edit... Thats odd - I recall that James had a video showing it being started. It's pretty simple. Just stack the wood and progressively get smaller as it climbs. Put a piece of newspaper in the middle of the stack and it takes off.

            Or use the weed burner - I bought it at Harbor Freight.

            Last edited by Les; 03-20-2012, 08:32 PM.
            Check out my pictures here:

            If at first you don't succeed... Skydiving isn't for you.


            • #7
              Re: ___Fire Building___

              Interesting Doug. You have the larger wood on top. But then again, you guy's are upside down. I guess it doesn't much matter as long as the wood is dry and the match lights.
              Check out my pictures here:

              If at first you don't succeed... Skydiving isn't for you.


              • #8
                Re: ___Fire Building___

                Here is a video showing the firestarting process. I think its a lot like Doug does it.

                Lee B.
                DFW area, Texas, USA

                If you are thinking about building a brick oven, my advice is Here.
                Our One Meter Pompeii Oven album is here.
                An album showing our Thermal Breaks is Here.

                I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up.


                • #9
                  Re: ___Fire Building___

                  You need more wood! Nice video!
                  Jen-Aire 5 burner propane grill/Char Broil Smoker

                  Follow my build Chris' WFO


                  • #10
                    Re: ___Fire Building___

                    There you have it zfire.

                    There are about as many ways of starting a fire as there are cooks.

                    The key is:

                    - A completely cured and dry oven.
                    - Lots of seasoned wood.
                    Last edited by Neil2; 03-27-2012, 10:08 AM.


                    • #11
                      Re: ___Fire Building___

                      "works every time just one match"

                      Matches !? I use a flint and steel.