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First Fire Too Hot! (?) - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



I'm Peter Reinhart! Ask Me Anything! Monday, February 15, 2016 7:00-8:00 pm EST

To kick off our AMA feature, we have invited author, chef and master bread maker and host of Pizza Quest, Peter Reinhart, to be our first host! Peter will be in the Forum on Monday, February 15th, from 7:00 - 8:00 pm EST. If you are unable to be online during the live session, you can post your questions in the sticky post. Peter will answer those questions during the live session on February 15th. You can view Peter's answers to your questions as well as what happened during the live session in the session thread.

Ask Me Anything New Forum Feature

You will notice a new forum at the top of the main page called, "Ask Me Anything". This forum will be used for live one hour "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) sessions hosted by people who are knowledgeable in different areas pertaining to wood fired ovens. How it works:
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First Fire Too Hot! (?)

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  • First Fire Too Hot! (?)

    I decided the day had come to start 'seasoning' my over, so I started a little fire and the temperature more or less stayed at about 150F in the dome as measured by a thermocouple.

    Long story short, I added wood to the fire, and, long story short, before I knew it the temperature was up to 500F

    By the time I pulled all the wood out, it peaked at around 580F.

    I guess I learned something about the lag time.

    I know my first fire was supposed to be around 300F, and I was supposed ot go up gradually, day by day, but I can't undo this.

    My oven had sat for about 6 to 8 weeks from the last time I applied mortar and has been kept out of the weather since then.

    Any suggestions as to what to look for in the way of damages?

    I have to believe a lot of the moisture came out of the dome during the 5 or so hours its was well above 300F, so, assuming little or no damage, what should I do now?

  • #2
    Re: First Fire Too Hot! (?)

    Keep building fires....


    • #3
      Re: First Fire Too Hot! (?)

      Any idea what damage I may have caused? I assume the 'seasoning schedule' in the plans was there for a reason ...


      • #4
        Re: First Fire Too Hot! (?)

        The damage would be apparent in cracking of the dome and oven entry and spaling on the face of the bricks. These are flash steam related problems. If you don't find this sort of damage, consider yourself and your oven very lucky.

        If you don't see a major problem, don't worry further and continue to cure your oven. I didn't see any information on how your fire ran, so I can't tell where you are in the curing. If your, run away, fire was momentary, then you still have a ways to go. If your oven was saturated for some time then you may be within a few burns of being done..

        Slow and steady are the mantras of curing. Although your experience with the temperature spike is extreme, most people seem to experience some temperature overrun surprises during curing.

        The problem with the early stages of curing and using wood to cure are that food fires are very dynamic. A bit of dry tinder and the fire will almost explode and so provide much more heat than was expected. Likewise, a wet stick will easily slow a fire to a smokey smoldering fire that hardly helps with the curing process at all. A consistency in your firewood and full attention on the fire during the curing is more than recommended during this phase. Like the wood used for the fire, the oven lends an additional variable to the burns. What is happens here is that the wet oven steals heat from the fire and to a lesser extent puts moisture into the mix and both of these slow the early curing fires. This slowing of the fires tends to create a false perspective about how the fire behaves in the oven. In short, early fires take more wood for a given temperature. The later fires take less wood, heat faster and burn hotter.

        When I built my oven the idea was to build a small fire each day and increase the temperature by 50F each day until the oven was cured to 600F or 700F or so and then go to a full unhampered fire. This method of curing seems to have moved to longer controlled burns and some, non-fire, method of heating to start the curing.

        Last edited by SCChris; 11-14-2011, 09:51 AM.


        • #5
          Re: First Fire Too Hot! (?)

          Mingy, I don't know that this relates or not, but I'll pass it on.. If you happen to be one of those people who live in a very dry area, your oven may have been pretty dry before you started your curing. I went to college in Boulder, Colorado and during the winter months, the humidity was always in the single digits. I don't have any reference of ovens being built and cured in these areas under these conditions but my bet is that the brickwork would be a lot dryer than my bricks were here in SoCal and so that curing could and would go a bit quicker.

          Again, since I don't know the specifics about where you were in the curing and the event fire, I can't really help with where you go from here.



          • #6
            Re: First Fire Too Hot! (?)


            I don't think I am in that dry of an area, and my bricks were pretty much outside in the rain when I used them. Mind you, I soaked them first and they fizzed like alka-seltzer!

            The inside of the oven is covered with soot right now, and it was still hot last night, after about 8 hours.

            I'll see if there is any obvious damage and try a little smaller fire next time.

            Really, it didn't look that that bog of a fire until I read the thermocouples!



            • #7
              Re: First Fire Too Hot! (?)

              Remember that the bricks take time to saturate so internal and external temps will vary widly early in the burns. Most of us use a infrared thermometer to take the surface readings during the curing, these are not going read anything like what a burried thermocouple will. I'd look for major structural cracking and if by bad luck you have those, grind and patch carefully. If you don't have these, go with long slow burns and when the oven goes clear, then you'll have a better idea what did or didn't happen.. Don't worry about it at this stage other than to patch what you have to, if you have to, and continue curing.



              • #8
                Re: First Fire Too Hot! (?)


                I *did* put my thermocouples in holes I drilled most of the way through the bricks, so maybe they were measuring closer to the surface.

                Ah well.


                • #9
                  Re: First Fire Too Hot! (?)

                  Stuff happens and the pizza won't care or taste different in the end.

                  It'll be a fine oven, cooking fine food.

                  Best to you!