curing the oven
James , Jim or whomever,
I have completed my dome construction ans I have had several small fires. My intentions were to wrap with a blanket and loose verm. and frame a structure around the oven. Now, I have decided to go with an igloo type look for the exterior, therefore, 4" to 6" vermiculite concrete would be my next step...my question is...do I have to cure the oven again after applying the verm. layer?
Your oven looks great. Do you want to post some photos in the forum? The first pizzas and roasts are just around the corner. Isn't that great!
The curing process is primarily to slowly drive moisture out of the refractory materials (bricks, prefabricated insert, mortars, etc.). Once you have done that over the course of a week, you won't need to do it again after the oven in insulated and finished.
I've found that after periods of damp and rain that an outdoor oven takes a little time to cure and fully dry out. I think the refractories absorb a little moisture from the air.
James, thank you again...if you would like to post those photos, be my guest. I am quite anxious to fire that baby up and start cooking. You guys really do a great job. I've been asked 'why are building a brick-oven living so close to New Haven'...my only response...wait and see.
How did the oven turn out? I bet its quicker than waiting in line in Wooster Street. I am in the process of building my own as well.
I plan to build my dome this weekend. I live in the New Haven area as well and I was wondering if you purchased a chimney/and or materials locally. If so, where did you purchase it?
I appreciate any help you can provide.
Could somone tell me some more specific instructions on how to cure firebrick?
My Dad purchased a big brick that we cut to fit in our oven. I know we are supposed to cure it over a week, but how should we do that in a home oven? (we have a propane oven)
I once was told a long list of instructions that was something like this:
Brush the brick to get as much grit and residual dirt off.
Then we were supposed to wipe it down. Maybe rinse it off.
Then for curing the brick, I don't really remember, there was a certain tempature to set the oven at, then we were supposed to "bake the brick" for a certain amount of time, then raise the temp. and repeat so on and so forth.
Anyways if somone could give me some pointers about what to do, (and maybe what not to do ;) ) I would really appreciate that!
Amy A.K.A camo_girl
Not sure about "curing firebrick" but when building a brick oven (method of heating isn't real relevant) you need to cure the masonry. There is a lot of water in the hearth & mortar that needs to be driven out before you will get consistent temps in your oven. Slow curing is best and results in optimal strength. (Standard air curing takes 30-days or more for most concrete structures...a fully wrapped Alan Scott oven design can take as much as 6 months to cure.)
For the Pompeii design, since we've got so much less masonry it's an easier cure. You still want to cure slowly to reduce the cracking but it's easily done with a series of small daily fires. The easiest way is to start with a small 10-minute fire and add 10-minutes of fire each day for 2 weeks.
Then you can build a full-bore soot burning fire --- a couple cubic feet of seasoned oak for a single 30 - 45 minute fire should do it. You'll watch the soot burn off the dome bricks about 40 minutes or so into the burn.
You can do the same with gas if you've made a gas (NG or Propane) oven.
i'm sure i saw instructions for curing the pompei oven somewhere on the fornobravo site but, now that i'm almost ready to begin that process(maybe in a week), i can't seem to find them again.
"series of small fires" i can understand ... but, what's small? ... just the amount of time? ... the amount of wood? sorry to be so anal, just don't want to damage that beautiful dome through ignorance ...
To cure / dry out ovens we use what we call electric greenhouse heaters. They are a steel tube from 500 mm to 1500 mm long and 200 – 800 watts. For a small domestic oven we would put one inside, close the door (leaving a little air circulation gap) and leave it for several days. Then one or two real firings and then you can go to cooking temp.
I wanted to check and see if Alf's instructions worked for you. Did you go the space heater route, or the series of fires? Both work well.
If you haven't done the fires yet, I would start with a couple of newspapers and kindling the first day, then burn newspapers and a little more kindling the next day. You can drag the fire out to keep the oven moderately warm for a longer period of time. Then, add add a few pieces of 2" wood to the next fire, etc. The balance is to get the oven hot enough to slowly drive out moisture, without creating too much steam in the oven material, or drying out the mortars and concrete to where they shrink and crack.
As the fires grow, you will be able to cook a roast, or vegetables, before your oven will get hot enough for pizza.
Let us know how it goes.
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