Getting ready to start
Hello, back after taking some time this winter and
getting closer to building my oven here in Ohio. Can
anyone answer or clarify a few questions we have:
1. We sometimes have hard, cold, snowy winters. Do we
have to cover the Pompeii oven with a steel or wood
base with concrete? Or is it ok to just build it with
the round shell? I like the look of the round oven
2. Does the oven have a door in the back? I remember
reading this at one time but may have been for the
Scott oven. How do you get the ashes out, or do you
3. This is down the road, but, is this correct? For
pizza, you push the fire to the side and cook on the
other? For bread and other things, you swab the oven
and cook without the fire inside?
All we can think of for now. Any tips you can think
of before we begin the whole building process will be
### That's an igloo style and as long as the exterior is weathertight
you can leave it that way. A coating of vermiculite concrete as your
insulating layer is used over the dome. This is pretty weather tough
and you can paint it with something like DryLok to seal it. You don't
want stucco in this case as it would require some weather protection.
> 2. Does the oven have a door in the back? I remember
> reading this at one time but may have been for the
> Scott oven. How do you get the ashes out, or do you
> need to?
### No door in the back. You take the ashes out the front using a
shovel or a pizza peel (that's what I do). To be honest, I don't take
out the ashes much. Good dry oak doesn't leave much so I tend to just
brush it to the back and only clean them out every half dozen fires.
> 3. This is down the road, but, is this correct? For
> pizza, you push the fire to the side and cook on the
> other? For bread and other things, you swab the oven
> and cook without the fire inside?
### With a 42" diameter you can cook pizza with fire ringing it from
about the 8 o'clock to 4 o'clock position (12 o'clock being dead ahead
of you). You can put 3 14" pizzas in there that way. Once you're ready
to cook bread, you just pull out any remaining coals (again I shovel
these out with a pizza peel and put them into either a metal trash can
or a fire pit). Sweep out the oven, swab it if you want, and place the
bread on the hearth bricks. Close it up with the door & you'll cook
from the retained heat in the bricks moving back into the oven
interior to cook the bread.
happy new year all!
elizabeth, in sacramento, where we built our oven, we have had a very wet winter and fall, but the dome seems to be holding up nicely. the exterior of the dome is quikrete "quikwall"*surface bonding cement over*mortar and stucco mesh wire. thus from the inside of the oven outwards*we have (1) brick (2) mortar (3) vermiculite (4) chicken wire and mortar and (5) a thick layer of surface bonding cement. the quikrete web site (<http://www.quikrete.com>www.quikrete.com) states that the surface bonding cement is 'waterproof' (although the rain hitting the dome in my view isn't exactly coming off the dome like water off a duck's back or anything). i ran a bead of silicon caulking all around the perimeter of the base of the oven (except*near the mouth where it gets too hot) to seal the crack where the base meets the tile. the tile was grouted with a grout acceptable for outdoor use (some grouts are interior only). **
for drainage purposes, i wish i had paid a little more attention to ever so slightly sloping the landing away from the*mouth of the oven (its perfectly level right now).
one thing to keep in mind, when determining the orientation of the oven, is the relationship of the mouth of the oven to the prevailing winds in your area. my oven mouth faces north. in sacramento, we get summer winds from the north (which will blow the smoke away from my face). in the winter we get an assortment of winds but the current storm is coming from the south, so the rain isn't blowing into the oven mouth (although my wife reminds me that i smell like smoked pork loin nearly every night [but shes hungarian so she likes it]). the mouth of the oven is also somewhat protected from the north by a patio cover about 5 feet from the oven. we have mild (but wet) winters here, so the oven is to the winter what the pool is to the summer. a place to congregate. keep that in mind when planning your layout. also, we have found we are consistantly using the oven two and three*times a week for cooking. we much prefer it over the wolf's oven. the easier you make it to get food to the oven, the more you will use it. all but the last 5 feet to*our oven is protected from the rain. its a great help.*
with respect to ashes, the ash slot i put in the oven is a waste. much easier to take out the ashes with the peel once a week. i run the ashes through chicken wire into a steel pail and save the "charcoal" chunks that i find and use them in the barbeque to give grilled fish a "woodsier" taste.
in another note, we finished a whole pig (cut into three parts) in the oven for new years eve. my next door neighbors had visitors from italy. they came over to view the oven and said that it was just like being back in italy. what an ego boost!*
I know you have had a lot of input, but here is my two cents.
>Hello, back after taking some time this winter and
>getting closer to building my oven here in Ohio. Can
>anyone answer or clarify a few questions we have:
>1. We sometimes have hard, cold, snowy winters. Do we
>have to cover the Pompeii oven with a steel or wood
>base with concrete? Or is it ok to just build it with
>the round shell? I like the look of the round oven
It sounds like you want to build an Igloo, which is what I have here.
Robert's comments on exterior finish are good, plus you can/should
also use a weatherproof paint or sealer. Elastomeric is one brand I
have seen used. My oven here is relatively temporary, so I have not
sealed my Igloo, and the stucco absorbs some moisture. Your oven
won't like any moisture, as it has to drive out all dampness when you
fire it, in order to reach the temperatures you want. Hot and wet
don't go together.
I would slope your foundation slightly toward the front (as Robert
noted) so that your wood store under the oven doesn't collect water.
>2. Does the oven have a door in the back? I remember
>reading this at one time but may have been for the
>Scott oven. How do you get the ashes out, or do you
I agree with others that the ash door in not necessary and a pain to
build (you never see it here).
I have been more creative using my hot coals this year, including
putting them in a standard BBQ instead of charcoal for grilling
(nothing beats real wood grilling), and carrying them into the house
and using them for in the fireplace for heat.
You can use either a shovel or peel to remove your cold ashes. I have
also used my shop vac.
>3. This is down the road, but, is this correct? For
>pizza, you push the fire to the side and cook on the
>other? For bread and other things, you swab the oven
>and cook without the fire inside?
I've been experimenting with leaving the hot burned out coals (no
flame or smoke) in the oven for some types of roasting. It's in
between the very hot fire-in-the-oven and a raked-out, fully
Here's my two cents:
>Hello, just responding to Jim's top lessons learned
>with a few additional questions.
>For the Pompeii oven:
>Is the thermal mass in the plans what you used or are
>you saying reduce the amount specified, if so, by how
In the dome, the amount is as specified. The
bricks and thin mortar coating are more than
enough mass. For the hearth, the brick on its
side and the hearth as described are right. There
is some discussion on how thick you should make
the hearth and whether to put the insulating
layer on the top of bottom. I have seen both work
well, which makes me think there is no wrong
(other than using sand). Some ovens in Italy are
installed on 6" concrete slab with no insulation.
It isn't perfect, or recommended, but still works.
>Is the housing and insulation necessary if you don't
>need it to cook? Is it just for looks or a must?
>Remember I'm in Ohio, it's frickin cold and snowy all
If you are going to go to the effort of
installing an oven, either prefabricated or
brick, you really should insulate and seal it
from the elements. Your oven could cook without
it (but only on days when it has dried out from
the rain and damp and isn't too cold outside).
Don't forget that your oven will hate damp and
wet -- it will have to drive all moisture out of
the oven before it will get hot. That is even
true of a sealed oven that has not been used for
months in the winter.
>My husband, who is an engineer, was wondering if there
>are more specific plans and drawings anywhere. He's
>going to take a closer look at the plans but is
>looking for more details. I reminded him about the
>spaceships but he's more comfortable with a new
>project with detailed plans.
As Jim said, we are talking about putting
together plans with more detail, but for now, I
think it would be best to use the web site and
this forum, and you'll be fine.
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