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Using gas to fire the brick oven - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Using gas to fire the brick oven

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  • Using gas to fire the brick oven


    I posted a question asking about using gas for powering the brick oven in my introduction and got some scary responses about explosions etc. so I decided to check it out thoroughly.

    True, escaping gas in a closed space is a formula for an explosion, but there is no difference between a self made brick oven and a store bought conventional gas oven in your kitchen in this respect. If gas leaks into the oven and you strike a spark - BOOM. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger!

    If however there is someone present in the bakery while the oven is being fired - they can easily see/smell if the gas is lit (or doused and leaking gas) and can ventilate the oven/room and avert any disaster.

    Most of the brick oven bakeries here in Israel use gas and it is perfectly safe if the basic gas safety regulations are followed.

    You can obviously spend a ton of money on fancy equipment for leak detection/prevention and alarm systems, but this is only really necessary in an automated environment where nobody is around to see what is going on. No fancy equipment can replace the good old eyes-and-nose-on-a-human-being in the room. Someone in the room where the oven is, is the best safety feature for gas usage.

    When the person goes home for the day and they turn off the gas at the cylinder taps, there is no chance that gas can leak into the oven.

    Obviously leaving the fire burning overnight unattended without electronic detection/shutoff valves is out of the question, however if you develop a firing schedule for the oven that can be built around human presence in the room with the oven, there is no explosion danger using gas.

    That's what I was told by a number of expert gas technicians, so I thought I would share it with the forum.


  • #2
    Re: Using gas to fire the brick oven

    This is a good, common sense, approach. But as the man said, common sense isn't that common. We have to err on the side of caution with new members.

    Keep us posted on your project.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


    • #3
      Re: Using gas to fire the brick oven

      Do it correct and safe and no problem using gas. Now you need to do some research on how much heat can be obtained and maintained for the price with the gas. If you want to and must use gas you may be looking for a white oven instead. Or you could leave out the hassle and find a blodgett on ebay at a fairly reasonable price. The design and concept of the brick oven found in this forum was not intended for use with gas, simple as that.
      Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste
      like chicken...

      My 44" oven in progress...


      • #4
        Re: Using gas to fire the brick oven

        As far as I understand the heat source is irrelevant to the taste or the texture (crust/crumb) of the bread, since it is not the gas or the wood that cooks the food, but rather the heat that is absorbed by the firebricks and refractory mortar that is later radiated back into the oven.

        The debate on whether gas or wood is better, has no simple answer. It is not simply a matter of nostalgia (wood is perhaps more traditional/romantic than gas which is seen to be more industrialized), but rather a matter of availability. If wood is a cheap and available resource equal or even more cost effective than gas, then by all means go for it. However, the reality here in Israel - which lacks vast forestation - is that wood is very scarce and therefore very expensive, so to run a bakery cost effectively with wood, would simply be out of the question.

        I think the Pompeii oven is flexible enough to work with any heat source (with a little bit of ingenuity), and rather than forego the pleasures of brick oven cooking, perhaps it is better to adapt certain aspects to achieve the goal, even if that was not the original plan.


        • #5
          Re: Using gas to fire the brick oven

          I like wood. I like the smell and crackle of the fire. I like the ancient human attraction of a wood fire. That said I live where there is lots of wood in Washington state USA.
          I see no problem with gas at all. The fear of explosion is over rated in my opinion. Millions of americans fire up gas grills on any given weekend. Gas is used world wide safely and cheaply.
          I would bet that if you filled and abandoned wood fired oven with gas and tried to blow it up you'd probably just get a big "whoosh" and not an explosion.
          That said, always treat gas with respect and care, consult experts for safty aspect and you should be ok....just my humble uneducated unreliable opinion


          • #6
            Re: Using gas to fire the brick oven

            I ran across this interesting gas fact on a sailing site:

            CNG-Propane Conversion

            CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is a fine cooking fuel. It’s a lighter than air gas so that if leaking on a boat it’ll simply escape through open hatches before reaching explosive concentrations. Production boat manufacturers like Hunter rode the CNG wave of popularity in the 80’s and installed CNG systems on their boats for quite a few years. Anthem came with such a system.

            In the years since, propane has become the fuel of choice and for backyard grills and the like it works just fine. If you experience a leak it’ll pretty much just escape along the ground until it dissipates. Unfortunately, since propane is heavier than air it’s not ideal for a boat. If it leaks it’ll flow downward until it collects in some low spot (like the bilge) until reaching explosive concentrations. Probably not what you’re looking for in after dinner entertainment while sipping your sundowner in the cockpit.
            Converse to the situation in a sailboat, heavy propane will leak out the front door to the ground, while light natural gas will tend to gather in the dome.

            Not that I'm planning a gas burner, or anything.
            My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2