How to Light the Fire in your Wood Fire Oven
It is important to ensure you build the fire in your wood-fired oven correctly. This will ensure your oven reaches cooking temperature as quickly as possible and that you will also enjoy optimum cooking results.
What you will need:
Note* Only ever use wood that is clean and is free of paint, glue, chemicals or treatments.
- KINDLING – The kindling wood to start the fire should be a soft wood such as pine because it burns quickly. It should be cut in lengths of approx. 20cm-30cm and approximate 2cm wide.
- HARDWOOD – To maintain the fire, use a well-seasoned hardwood that has a low moisture content such as box wood or iron bark. Aromatic wood such as hickory, mesquite or apple wood may also be used. The hard wood should be 20cm – 30cm in length and no more than 15cm in diameter.
- WOOD STAND – For the best results, use a wood stand. The wood stand can stay in the oven while it is burning; it is used to rest the wood against and assists with allowing space between the wood pieces for air flow.
- MATCHES OR FLAME
- The fire should be arranged to the right or left-hand side of the oven, approx ¾ of the way along the side of the dome. This is to ensure the flame and heat rolls around the dome in a circular motion to heat the whole oven and to avoid losing heat out the opening.
- Place 8-10 pieces of kindling in the oven, leaning against the wood stand to make a half TeePee shape.
- Light a firelighter and place it under the kindling and allow the flame to catch.
Adding the Hard Wood:
- A few minutes prior to adding the hard wood to the flame it is a good idea to place it on the other side of the oven first to warm up.
- Once a flame is established, gently use a peel to move pieces of hard wood on top of the burning kindling so they can also catch fire. Do this slowly so as not to smother the flame, allow each piece to catch before adding the next piece.
- Continue to add pieces of hardwood to the fire as needed to keep the fire burning steadily.
- The door of the oven should be left open whenever the fire is alight to allow for oxygen flow.
How to tell if the oven is ready for cooking:
- Allow flame to burn for approximately 90 mins before cooking.
- You can test the temperature by using an infrared thermometer, the desired temperature depends on what you wish to cook but 350°C – 400°C is usually ideal.
- Or look at the inside of the oven’s dome; if the ceiling of the oven is white then it is ready for cooking.