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Choosing and finding wood - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Choosing and finding wood

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  • Choosing and finding wood

    Hello all,
    This is a sticky posting on choosing and finding wood that will stay at the top of the "Firing Your Oven" forum.

    I was thinking it would be a good idea for folks to say where they got their wood, how much is costs, etc. Sharing good leads on firewood sources is good for everyone, and even if you don't find someone else in your region who had a good lead, at least you can see what folks are buying and paying.

    As a general rule, food cooked in a refractory oven does not take on as much "flavor" from the wood as a grill. The biggest gain from a wood-fired oven is how refractory ovens wood (for more on that you can read http://fornobravo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=788). Still, you have a nice live fire in the oven while cooking pizza, so the wood does have an impact.

    Joseph at The Fire Within says that he uses Apple when he is cooking pizzas, because the nice smell brings in the crowds.

    I think the best woods are fruit and nut. Almond, Apple, Cherry, Plum and Walnut are all great, and you can find them in many parts of the country. As a mainstream wood, oak is also very good. It gives you a nice balance of flame and coals, which is important. You can find a cord of either Oak, or Oak/Madrone mix in Sonoma county for about $300/delivered.

    The only rule on wood is to not burn pine, fir or cedar. They don't add a lot of heat to the oven, they burn very black and smokey and they soot up you oven opening, vent and chimney.

    So please, share with us what you burn, where you buy it, and how much you have to pay.

    Also, what do you use for kindling? Personally, I burn oak and fruit wood from trees I have pruned at our property.
    Last edited by james; 08-29-2006, 02:21 PM.
    Pizza Ovens
    Outdoor Fireplaces

  • #2
    For Southern California , Los Angeles County and Ventura County.
    They deliver.



    • #3


      I posted a lenghty thread on wood selection a while ago, so I won't repeat myself. Because of the area I'm in, wood is abundant, and I haven't needed to buy any for several years. My personal favourite is maple limbs, about three inches in diameter. Standing dead is best, because it's ready to go. Standing dead elm is common on farms here also, and I cut it when it's available. Both are high in BTUs and get my oven smokin hot.

      "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827


      • #4

        Here in the Philippines most of our firewood is well under three inches.
        We have a lot of Mango, and some Mahagany. We also use Santol and
        Nara. These are woods that many of you have not heard of. I beleive that
        part of the problem I had/have with my oven is not getting it hot enough.


        • #5
          Re: Choosing and finding wood

          I feel I must point out that walnut should not be used in your oven while you have food in it. Walnut has poisons in it which can be released without them denaturing during beginning ignition (the first smoke coming off the wood). These can condense onto your food and hurt you. There are many other woods which are dangerous for this reason, and a little research can prevent one from exposure to a potential poison.


          • #6
            Re: Choosing and finding wood


            Welcome aboard, and thanks. I've definitely burned walnut -- are there sources you could point us to to read more?
            Pizza Ovens
            Outdoor Fireplaces


            • #7
              Re: Choosing and finding wood


              As a woodworker and woodturner, I'm quite aware that walnut, black walnut in particular, has oils in it that definitely give me a headache from the dust if I don't wear a mask. Also dyes my hands purple. This is true of other woods, too, such as rosewood, pearwood, Cuban mahogany, Cocobolo (Mexican), many other rainforest type woods (farmed) and even some exotic Australian bits. However, I've burned lots of walnut cutoffs in my oven, even chunks of Cocobolo, with no ill effects. These ovens burn very hot, and, without documentation, I'd be sceptical about the dangers of residuals (poisons??) on food. I'd like to see a report or two before making a firm judgment, though.

              "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827


              • #8
                Re: Choosing and finding wood

                I don't have a citation which definitely says that one shouldn't eat walnut wood, but there are quite a few which warn against using walnut wood shavings as horse bedding or feed, and why. Also, it is quite toxic to many plants (the "juglone" compound), and breathing the sawdust is toxic to people (that's true for many woods, including Eucalyptus species especially).
                Growing up (suburbs) it was common knowledge to be careful about walnut, and reinforced when I started using it to make furniture. I have no fears about using it to warm up my oven, but I won't use it while food is in the oven. Same goes for pine and fir.
                I'm including a few web links which are somewhat useful.:

                Well, I can't, because the "administrator" of this forum won't let me!



                • #9
                  Re: Choosing and finding wood

                  To each (and their companions) their own poison.
                  Remember when carbon tetrachloride fire extinguishers were OK?


                  • #10
                    Re: Choosing and finding wood

                    Ray your links didn't come through because the Admin is trying to keep spammers out. We have seen quite a few first posts include links to spam sites and this is but one way to discourage that kind of behaviour. I am not sure of the number of posts required before you are allowed to inset a link or a photo. Stick with us and soon you will be unfettered. I am off board until monday but you could shoot an email to James (The Head Honcho) with the links and he can insert them for you.

                    I am no where cognizant of chemical engineering but here are some stats on Walnut pruning. I would assume that this is unseasoned wood
                    from an EPA report

                    Fire type : Walnut prunings, pile fire

                    Modified Combustion Efficiency 0.95
                    Emission factor (g/kg)
                    Benzene 0.016
                    Toluene 0.011
                    Styrene 0.002
                    Cresols 0.007
                    Naphthalene 0.018

                    quoted source:
                    Jenkins, B.M., S.Q. Turn, R.B. Williams, M. Goronea, H. Abd-el-Fattah, J. Mehlschau, N. Raubach, D.P.Y. Chang, M. Kang, S.V. Teague, O.G. Raabe, D.E. Campbell, T.A. Cahill, L. Pritchett, J. Chow, A.D. Jones. 1996. Atmospheric pollutant emission factors from open burning of agricultural and forest biomass by wind tunnel simulations.
                    Project A932-126, California Air Resources Board, Sacramento, CA.
                    Last edited by jengineer; 03-02-2007, 05:12 PM.


                    • #11
                      Re: Choosing and finding wood


                      I think you have two basic types of wood for WF ovens......

                      ....that used for cooking where you want to add flame or flavor....whatever you can find locally is quite different around the globe. (We have dense southern pine, olive and orange here.)

                      ....and that used to heat it up an oven which is anything you can get your hands on....particularly if you are pulling the fire in a bake oven. I've noticed a lot of ovens here using pallets. They are firing their ovens with them...getting BTU's....may or may not be using for the cook fire.

                      I heat up using junk wood and finish with aromatics of choice.
                      sigpicTiempo para guzarlos..... ...enjoy every sandwich!


                      • #12
                        Re: Choosing and finding wood


                        Agreed. I'll burn just about anything, including pallets, to get the heat up for bread baking where the fire is pulled. For other things, I have a special stash of fruit wood (apple, pear and cherry) that I use for aromatics when needed.

                        "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827


                        • #13
                          Re: Choosing and finding wood

                          I burn whatever is at hand for the stove that heats the house. This year it's madrone and oak. We are unable to detect any smoke flavor in anything we cook in our oven (33" ID and 15" high inside) as long as it is pre-heated before the food is put in and the door in not in place. That seems to be regardless of how big the fire is while things are cooking. The only way we get things smoked, is to close the door almost completely with a fire burning inside. If only glowing coals are left when the door is put in place, no smoke taste seems to transfer to the food even though the coals will continue to burn for up to a day or so.
                          I can't offer praise enough to FB for all their information on oven design and construction. We followed their directions and now, for the first time in 30 some years, have non-doughy pizza, delicious breads, melanzoni (probably spelled that wrong) etc., and all that without over-heating our house when it is warm outside.


                          • #14
                            Re: Choosing and finding wood

                            if you are looking for a firewood source try your local craigslist - but instead of searching for firewood suppliers in the "for sale" or "services" sections of craigslist, post your own ad in the "for sale" section and name it something like: wanted - seasoned firewood or wanted - fruit wood. you will be amazed at the responses, at least i was! and it's free!


                            • #15
                              Re: Choosing and finding wood

                              We paid $150 delivered for a cord of fresh cut olive and $180 per cord delivered for fairly well seasoned oak and madrone. The oak leaves considerable ash, the madrone produces lots of total heat with less ash, and the olive will have to dry some before I can use it to heat the oven.
                              Most of the pieces of wood are larger than what I hear folks talk about using in this forum.
                              We try to start our fire with pieces about 3 to 4 inches across (diameter?) using a propane torch as a starter. Once a small self sustaining flame exists the torch is extinguished and normal oven draw fans the flame enough to get the oven up to pizza temperature in about an hour or so. Actually, the infra red thermometer will indicate a floor temperature of 750 deg. F. in the coolest spot after about 45 to 50 minutes but there won't yet be enough stored heat in the bricks to maintain that temperature long enough to yield a really good pizza. About half of the olive wood we just bought is unsplit pieces ranging from about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. When it dries enough to use, we should be able to join the more conventional oven operators in the forum.
                              One last thing, We are unable to detect even the slightest odor or taste of smoke in any foods we have cooked in our oven except when we have wanted smoke (BBQ ribs, roasts, etc.) and have produced it by tossing some wood on the coals and immediately almost totally closing off the oven entryway. I think you could burn old tires in there without affecting the flavor of the food, though it would sure stink up the neighborhood and maybe alienate everyone down wind.