You’ve just completed the construction of your wood-fired oven, and the anticipation of the first firing is tangible. It’s completely normal.

Just a little more patience! Before you can fully enjoy your wood-fired oven, there’s one last important step you need to take. Let us explain why right here. ⬇️

Unlike electric, gas, or combination ovens, a wood-fired oven encourages us to embrace a slower pace, appreciate moments of relaxation around the fire, and develop a unique set of techniques and expertise through experience. One essential aspect is smoke removal. This term, reminiscent of wintry scenes, involves gradually increasing the oven’s temperature to eliminate any residual humidity from its construction. To achieve optimal results, there are several steps to follow:

  • First, insulate and assemble your wood-fired oven properly.
  • Then, master the first firing.
  • Finally, excel in subsequent firings.

Let’s explore each step in more detail.

Installing and insulating your wood-fired oven is a crucial stage:

At Ephrem, we emphasise the importance of following the assembly instructions meticulously. Here’s a straightforward example to illustrate why this is crucial: when we advise against joining certain parts, it’s because the mortar can hinder the oven’s expansion during heating. Failure to follow this instruction can result in the oven cracking when exposed to high temperatures. Therefore, we take great care to prevent such issues during the dehumidification process. There’s no secret to it:

  • Assemble and insulate your oven according to our recommendations (here).
  • Only dehumidify once the entire structure is completed to avoid additional moisture entering the construction.

Here’s a helpful tip: the choice of insulation for your oven depends on the type of cooking you intend to do. If you’ll primarily be cooking pizzas and want quicker temperature changes, vermiculite concrete is sufficient. However, for slower cooking that requires more gradual heat release, sand is recommended. Regardless of your choice, always remember to place a layer of rock wool on top of the oven first.

The dehumidifying process of a wood-fired oven:

Once your framework is complete and your outdoor or indoor kitchen looks impeccable, it’s time to proceed with the first firing of your wood-fired oven. Here’s our advice for this process:

DAY 1 and 2: gently light your oven

  • Start with a small fire made of twigs or use candles at the entrance of the oven. This helps optimise the oxygen supply for the fire.
  • Add some pieces of wooden crate or small pieces of wood to the fire and push them to the centre of the oven. This will help build up the heat gradually.
  • Insert a large log into the fire. A larger log will burn more slowly and produce fewer flames compared to a small one. Ensure that the flame does not touch the vault of the oven.
  • Repeat the process on DAY 2.

DAY 3: Gradual increase of the wood-fired oven’s temperature

  • Start the morning by igniting a small fire and allow it to intensify gradually throughout the day.
  • By the end of the day, the flames should reach the vault and the temperature can exceed 200°C.

DAY 4 and following days: light the fire 😎​ (always gradually of course!)

Have you noticed any cracks while your oven was heating? Don’t panic, they are the result of additional natural expansion that the oven may need, and they will in no way interfere with its correct operation.

Feu de bois Ephrem

Master the following firings:

After completing the dehumidification process, it’s time to fully enjoy your wood-fired oven. Subsequent heatings will require much less time (around 1h30) if you want to share convivial moments with your family and friends. It’s simply a matter of good organisation! Here’s an example of how you can make the most of your oven at Ephrem:

“If you plan a pizza party on a Friday evening using your wood-fired oven, you can heat it up to approximately 400°C. This means that the next morning, your oven will still retain some warmth, depending on its insulation. It’s the perfect opportunity to bake bread or slow-cooked dishes, adjusting the oven temperature to the desired baking temperature. And who knows, you might even use it for a barbecue during lunchtime. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of a wood-fired oven that has been heated only once or twice throughout the entire weekend!”

Ephrem’s tips:

  • In addition to the construction of your oven, factors such as altitude, climate, and season will have an impact on the temperature rise of your oven. It’s important to adapt accordingly and make adjustments as needed.

  • The length and angle of your flue pipe can also affect the performance of your wood-fired oven. If you feel that the draft is not optimal, it is recommended to consult a professional chimney fitter for assistance.

  • We can’t stress this enough: it is recommended to perform a slight dehumidification process after every period of inactivity lasting 3 to 6 months, adjusted based on your climate conditions. This can be done by lighting a small fire in the oven the day before you plan to use it, allowing any residual moisture to be eliminated.

Editorial: Ephrem Fusion
Photographs: Royalty free
Source:  Ephrem Fusion