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mgraban 02-11-2007 10:24 AM

Pushing Coals Over
I am finally getting my oven hot enough (burning soot off the top), but when I am pushing coals (with a log still going) over to the side, I'm "putting the flame out" and extinguishing the fire too much, I think.

Should I be pushing over "only" coals (no log still going) and THEN adding another log to the flame going again from the hot coals?

I tried searching threads, but if someone could post their experiences with just this step of the process (or even better, post pictures) of what it looks like before and after you push the coals/fire over, that would be very helpful.


Xabia Jim 02-11-2007 10:31 AM

Re: Pushing Coals Over
I had different experiences with the fire "going out". I think if you throw in some smaller wood/kindling before/during or after the move (depending how hot the fire is) it will help your fire keep going or relight easily. A good dry log should also catch quickly. I've put a log in the oven when heating up the oven (not on the fire) and it will catch quickly.

good luck....

mgraban 02-11-2007 11:03 AM

Re: Pushing Coals Over
I had great success with rebuilding the fire in the middle with a few more logs, letting it get really hot again and pushing the logs over. It kept burning really strong and I finally got my first real pizzas out! The floor was >700 and they cooked perfectly, the "90 second pizza" or so (didn't time it, but it was fast). I'll post pictures later!

james 02-11-2007 12:02 PM

Re: Pushing Coals Over
Hey Mark,

I have a couple of thoughts. How damp is your wood, and how large are your logs? You want logs in the 3"-4" diameter range (or splits) that really combust the moment you put them on the fire. You don't want any wood "baking" or smoldering. Look for serious and pretty immediate flame.

My thinking is that your largest piece of wood is not fully burning when you push the fire over, so that when it looses its coals, it goes out. Either that piece (or 2-3 of them) are either too damp or too big to really catch.

What do you think of my guess? Would that describe what is happening?

As an aside, I was talking with a Pizza Napoletana restaurant owner about his classes in Naples, and he described a wood strategy where they have 2-3 different types of wood, based on size, that the pizzaiolo can use. He can add the perfect size wood each time, to keep the oven operating perfectly. I have a mental picture of a musician keeping an instrument in perfect tune all the time.

Hope this helps.

mgraban 02-11-2007 08:28 PM

Re: Pushing Coals Over
James --

Yes, I think the wood wasn't burning strong enough. When I rebuilt the fire in the middle and moved strong burning logs over, they kept burning strong. Part of the key for the general pizza success was having about 4 small logs burning strong, spread all over the floor. This got the floor well over 700F.

See these pictures:

Picasa Web Albums - Mark - Pizza Feb 11 ...

mitexas 02-17-2007 06:03 PM

Re: Pushing Coals Over
Worrying about smoking my neighbors out is my biggest concern when using my oven. The transition from center fire to pushing to the side is something that I also keep working at getting better at. Having a solid fire and base of coals, and a few thin, very dry pieces of hardwood ready to put back on once I move the coals to the side has worked best for me. Once the fire is re-established on the side and burning strong the oven is about ready to use
Good luck and happy cooking.

aeneas1 04-26-2007 01:56 AM

Re: Pushing Coals Over
if you want to see spontaneous combustion at work, try using an oven brush (wood head, copper brush) try to push your ashes and embersl over to one side when your oven is at around 700f-800f! so subtle pre-fire smoking as a hint/warning that you are being a dope - just a poof! and a fireball on the end of your pole! no worries tho - if you can manage to put it out quickly your brush will be fine albeit somewhat darker from the experience!

james 04-26-2007 06:45 AM

Re: Pushing Coals Over
That's a very educational story. I guess that's why the rake is all metal. :D

wlively 06-10-2007 02:37 PM

Re: Pushing Coals Over
An old Texas BBQ trick I just learned this weekend. My wood is stored uncovered at the moment so it was not thoroughly dry. Once the fire is going place the pieces of wood you are going to use next just inside the oven, but not in the fire. Really helped keep the smoke down when adding the wood.

For lack of a better tool, I used a garden hoe to push the fire over. Worked pretty I must say.

nissanneill 07-18-2007 05:21 AM

Re: Pushing Coals Over
Hi guys,
I experience no problems when pushing the coals and ash back and to the sides when ready to cook on the hearth.
I do it when the logs are well burnt and almost redy to break into coals. I normall do this and add more dry split hard wood which ignites almost immediately. I normally spread the very hot coals over the hearth to ensure a good 'soak' prior to pushing them to the sides.


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