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Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

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  • #31
    Re: Why Italian Ovens are Round

    Thanks for the info, I?m in the process of building a brick oven in my backyard, I don?t know where to start, I want to cook pita bread and pizza I?m reading a book called the bread builders ,I?m going now to research the round oven.


    • #32
      Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

      Hi Rollo,

      The temperature that wood fired ovens normally reach is well below the firing temperatures of most solid house bricks.
      Unless you are going to be firing 24/7 then the much cheaper house brick would last a very long time.
      Although red bricks are OK it is better to head for the whiter brick as these normally have a higher kaolin content [higher in alumina] and are closer to the qualities of a fire brick.
      From my hunting for local bricks around Australia [for my workshops] the solid pressed brick is becoming a thing of the past but the closest 'house' brick I have found to a firebrick is the 'Charolais' brick made by Bowral Bricks in Bowral, NSW [now owned by Austral]. It may be difficult to get a small supply in Northern Rivers. The price of this brick is about one quarter the price of a firebrick.
      On the subject of why Italian bricks are round - The round/oval shape is perfectly suited to the nature of flames and heat transfer while the barrel arch is more suited to the ease of building with a rectangular brick.
      Flames hate corners and don't go there -they take the line of least resistance.


      • #33
        Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

        James, can you share info on the pizza carts you mentioned creating for the farmer's markets? I am a baker for market and want to bring the oven along but need to meet health codes with the sinks, fridge. Do you make something like this, please send...
        Thank you!!


        • #34
          Re: bricks

          Originally posted by rollo View Post
          Hi can anyone advise me? Am having difficulty accessing fire bricks. ARE normal red solids ok ? are white solids better any info would be apptreciated. I am in the northern rivers NSW australia
          There is a place in wetherill park called Field Furnace, They carry and make all types of fire bricks, call them on 029 729 1799.


          • #35
            Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

            Solid bricks, especially the lighter colours are generally satisfacory for the temperatures you will reach in a wood fired oven although high alumina fire bricks [or tiles] are obviously better, but at least 3 times the price.


            • #36
              Re: bricks

              Most pottery supply business will have them , also the heat blankets you'l need to .


              • #37
                Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

                Be carefall using house brick , they will crack as the oven cools down particulary when u use it in winter and the night air is very cold. The oven cools down to fast resulting in cracking. For the few hundred $ extra , the oven will hold temp longer, last long, and u can be assured minimal cracking. I somtimes load mine with heeps of wood and the temp will reach around 600 on the ceiling.......8-) I can then cook around 6-10 pizza's no probs. Hope this helps.


                • #38
                  Re: Fire bricks and common bricks

                  In response to wilson 1000 concern about cracking house bricks I must say that has not been my observation and experience, over the past 50 years, of heating both fire bricks and solid common bricks to temperatures far in excess of the 600 degree C wilson 1000 mentions.
                  600 degrees C is a fairly easy and common tempeature to reach in heating up a wood fired oven and while it might be in excess of the alpha/beta quartz conversion of 573 degrees C it is unlikely that a solid common brick is so placed to receive substantial temperature differences in wood fired oven operations to cause cracking.
                  I would also think that a solid common brick, in a reasonably insulated oven, would be subjected to sudden cooling to be influenced by the crystobalite alpha/beta conversion at 200- 225 C and that would include an unusual brick with an excessive silica content or a near vitrified brick [or 'clinker'].
                  I'm certainly not advocating the replacement of firebricks for ovens that are destined to run continuously, as in a commercial operation, but for the occasional intermittent use most home ovens get I'm sure a good solid house brick for the dome [especially in the white/cream range which usually has a higher alumina content] would generally outlast the oven owner.
                  Certainly, firebricks are designed for situations of heat, but that usually is in kiln and furnace situations. For oven domes they can be an expensive overkill.
                  Another myth is that fire bricks hold heat better than common bricks. While it is true that fire bricks can withstand higher temperatures [and we are talking 1000 degrees C plus] it is the density [weight] of the brick which determines its heat holding capacity.


                  • #39
                    Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

                    In this part of the US, Texas, LA, OK, MS, etc, there are very few pressed solid commons, and they cost almost as much as fire brick, with less availability. What you say is certainly true, but it is also a local observation.


                    • #40
                      Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

                      Hi Tscarborough,

                      I must admit the solid, pressed, common bricks are becoming, decidedly, less common in Australia as most brick manufacturers are turning to extruded bricks with as much 'holes' as there is fired clay [not a brick to be considered for oven dome construction].
                      Certainly if your fire bricks are about the same price as commons there is no question which you should choose. It is only on the, usual, great price variation that you would choose common bricks.
                      I have found that in assessing the quality of fire bricks in Australia, and from other parts of the world, that there can be enormous differences. What might be termed a common brick from one manufacturer can be more refractory than a fire brick from another.
                      Our own [Aussie] firebrick manufacturers are meeting so much competition from imported Chinese manufacturers that there are very few local products left and it must be admitted that the imported product is, in general, far superior.
                      I had an experience recently of purchasing, in the state of Tasmania, near-white house bricks [@$1each] to build an oven dome, that proved to be admirably suited to the job. The manufacturer told me he had been asked earlier for firebricks by a potential oven builder, who was referring to a 'build your own' wood fired oven book.
                      When he said there were no firebrick manufacturers, as such, in Tasmania he offered him the same bricks as I had chosen saying they would be perfectly suitable for the oven temperatures he was likely to reach.
                      The oven builder would have none of the suggestion stressing that the 'book' was perfectly clear - firebricks were to be used.
                      He asked the brick manufacturer where he might purchase 'pure' firebricks and was advised to go to a barbeque shop- one of a large national chain.
                      He eventually was able to obtain his firebricks - they were imported [across Bass Strait] from the Australian mainland @ $8 per brick!!!


                      • #41
                        Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

                        Interestingly enough, I was up in Dawson City, in the Yukon Territory recently.
                        Across the river from Dawson City is a "Paddle Wheeler Graveyard", a place where they parked all the old paddle wheelers and left them to rot after the road came in and river travel was no longer needed.
                        They burnt wood for making steam to drive the boats and would stop frequently along the river between Whitehorse and Dawson city to resupply. The wood structures are well rotting away but the old boilers are still intact. I looked inside a couple of them and they were lined with old standard red brick.
                        Last winter in Mexico, I found a forno that some construction workers built to cook their meals in. Red brick coated with clay and straw. Bottom line, you can use red brick but it does not last as long although it may last a lifetime if you are only cooking with it a couple times a week....


                        • #42
                          Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

                          Hi Spunkoid,

                          I agree that it is not uncommon to find old red [terra cotta] bricks starting to disintergrate but they are usually soft fired [under 1000 degrees centigrade] and are often subject to corrosive water.
                          Modern bricks are usually hard fired and will last much longer.
                          Oddly, I am presently in Red Deer, Alberta, on my first visit to Canada, running a wood fired oven workshop.


                          • #43
                            Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

                            Excellent clarification.




                            • #44
                              Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

                              I guess I am at a bit of a loss.....I read that dry stacking bricks without mortar is good, and that ovens should be round.

                              However, aside from the "purist viewpoint" of using only masonary materials, what is wrong with just drystacking bricks to form the walls and door, and then using a piece of heavy steel plate with bricks just laid on top to form the top of the oven and the top of the door.

                              Once insulated and covered, the stacked bricks won't go anywhere, and the the steel will last a long, long time.

                              So the oven will be a little higher around the outside walls, but so what?


                              • #45
                                Re: Why Italian Wood-Fired Ovens are Round

                                So what...? A low dome makes a big difference.
                                Keep the dome low... a big part of the cooking process comes from heat that radiates down from the hot bricks. My dome is 1 meter in diameter, I added a 1/2 brick soldier course when I built the dome. When I cook, I have lots of room in the dome but sometimes feel that it is a little high and would have gotten better heat if the dome were lower. It is not really a problem as I keep a nice little fire burning on the side that keeps the heat up. But with hindsight, I would forgo the soldier course, kept the dome a little lower, and still would have had lots of height.