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Using Oven In Very Cold Weather

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  • Using Oven In Very Cold Weather

    I'd like to use the oven this evening. It's currently very cold here, around 15. Are there any concerns I should be aware of using the oven in these temps? I was planning on starting a small fire just to warm the oven up at first and then go to a bigger fire. Any thoughts? Thanks very much.

    "Success can be defined as moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm"- Churchill
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  • #2
    I use my oven all year long without issues. You are right a slow startup is always better.

    You could start with a small fire to warm things up or you could use the top down method. I think thats whats its called anyway. You can search for it on this site where it is probably explained better.

    Stack your firewood as usual with plenty of air flow. Add kindling/fire starter to the top to get it lit. The fire will start slowly and as it burns some to the hot bits will fall to the bottom and eventually light the wood at the base.

    Thinking about cooking in mine today as well, good luck
    My oven build in progress:


    • #3
      I have always used a top down method, starting under the chimney vent then when drafting pushing into the main dome. I saw this supersized top down method at Jack Daniels in Lynchburg, TN. It was a dry county back then only offering Black Label and Yellow Label at the end of the tour (Coffee or Lemonade) LOL. Since then you can now sample the real stuff.
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      • #4
        Thanks for the replies, Russel and PurpleHaze. Just finished splitting some wood...pretty frigid out there. I'll do the top down method, warm up that flue pipe and then push back into the dome....hopefully won't match the Jack Daniels size, although that does look warm. Thanks, again!

        "Success can be defined as moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm"- Churchill
        My Build Album:


        • #5
          Short story: I've had no negative issues with firing the oven in below freezing temperatures. The number of pieces of wood that make up the size of my initial fire is limited by the vertical height between the floor of the landing and the top of the vent opening in the arch above the landing. The fire is the same size no matter what time of year I fire up the dome.

          Long story? lol

          I don't believe I've fired my oven in outside temps in the teens. In the 20s, definitely. Just had a fire last week, as well as maybe a dozen more over the past few winter months. This was a cold winter for us, with temps steady in the 20s.

          The first few times I did a winter firing, I watched the fire. What I learned is that the fire itself dictates the speed of the burn. Just like in the summer.

          Meaning, I always start my fire on the landing, right under the vent opening. As the flames build, I'll push the fire back in to the dome. Each push back in to the depths of the dome reduces easy access to free air, so the flame stagnates a bit, it might even get a bit smokey. But once the air flow pattern resolves itself, the fire burns clean again. When it does, I'll slide it back another 12" into the dome. Takes maybe three "pushes", with a few minutes in between each push, until the fire that I started on the landing is burning in the middle, or towards the back of, the dome floor.

          I hope this makes sense, but simplistically, a "cold dome" will simply require more heat from the fire to get up to cooking temps. A basic Delta-T, you have a larger Delta-T when it's cold outside. So simplistically, a cold dome will "suck more heat" out of the fire than a warmer dome. As the fire warms the dome up, the fire in turn can burn more intense and hotter, thus transferring even more heat energy to the dome. Eventually the dome is fully heated and the fire is fully burning, and with the dome to temp, the soot clears from the dome.

          So for me, the heating of the dome sort of regulates the pace of the fire. In the summer, with the mass of the dome at an 85F ambient summer temp, the fire reaches a point where I can slide it back...then back again...that back yet again, finally reaching the center of the dome floor, faster than I could do the same in a cold-soaked 25F dome. If I were to slide the fire back in the winter as quickly as I do in the summer, the fire might smolder more and snuff itself out instead of burn. The moisture content of the wood can be a player as well. Drier wood can allow me to slide the fire back more quickly than wetter wood.

          I hope all that makes sense.

          So I guess I can say, I slide the fire back in to the dome when the burn pattern of the fire tells me it's ready to be slid back. Wet, dry, hot or cold, the flames of the fire dictate the pace.

          I've had no negative issues with firing the oven in below freezing temperatures.


          My Build: Mongo's 42" CT Stone Dome Build