Do you recommend Natural Gas or Propane kits for your Wood Fired Ovens?

Greetings,

Just beginning to resource information and products that would support my vision of backyard pizza/bread oven and found my way to brickwood ovens and this forum.

My first of probably many questions is the possibility and implications of trying to modify one of the described products for dual fuel operation. Specifically being able to use wood or propane for a heat source.

The goal would be to have the option of going all out and doing wood fired pizza’s and breads once in a while, but also maintain the convenience of using propane for the smaller jobs.

I followed the references for propane burners from the website so I know that’s possible but I’m concerned that ash/coals from a ‘dirty’ fuel source like wood could degrade/clog the flame spreader when the situation calls for the full monty.

TLDR can Wood fires and propane flame units cohabitate in the same oven (not necessarily being used at the same time or even on the same preparation)?

~Skitz

Hello Skitz -

Great Question! When building a BrickWood Oven, you can use wood, coal, propane & natural gas. The wood and coal options are not brainers… super easy.

The Propane and Natural Gas options require a bit of pre-planning before you build your base (as you want to run a gas pipe through the base slab).

As for you concern about the clogging of the fuel burner due to wood soot and/or ash - don’t worry, here’s why:

  1. You will have a 1/2 - 3/4" opening around the gas burner in the hearth (cooking area) and base. Wood and coal ash will fall through this opening before it touches your burner.

  2. A local metal shop can create a small 3-sided / stainless steel shield that you can use to block the burner mechanism from the wood & coal. Very simple to build - 3 sides - each side is 3" in length with a 45 degree bend. On the bottom, there is a 1" flange to keep it upright. This will allow the burner to function and shield the burner from wood if you choose to burn both at the same time.

  3. If the burner should ever get clogged, simply detach the burner and clean the burner nozzles w/ a toothpick or a wire shirt hanger.

I guess we should add - Make sure you turn the burner off BEFORE you attempt to clean the nozzle. Safety First!

Hope that answers your question!!

As a side note - we don’t manufacturer or resell gas burners, but if you want at great quality burner, please contact Mark Ward at -

Ward Burner Systems
Dandridge, TN 37725
865-397-2914
WardBurner.com

What part of the oven do you recommend for the burner placement? I have small set of 3 burners salvaged from a heat pump that are the same size as a fire brick. So I can install it anywhere a brick would go. I have analysis paralysis I’m thinking on the bottom row of the right side about in the middle. or bottom row on the side close to the back… Any thoughts?

First and foremost - PLEASE TAKE LOTS OF PICS of this project! Plenty of Before, During & After as this is a popular topic and I’d love to feature your pictures.

That being said… per your 3 burner requirement, I created a pic of where you want the burners. You might need to be a little creative getting them in - while keeping as close to the hearth / fire brick herringbone layout pattern as possible. Keep the high-temp mortar around the burners to a minimum…

With this pattern, you will be able to evenly disperse the heat coming from the burners onto your fire brick for maximum efficiency. This will provide your oven with even heating - less hot & cold spots - and places the most radiant heat on the cooking / baking area of the hearth surface (so you pizzas bake evenly).

Right Burner - Place burner just a few inches behind the center of the oven (a bit closer to the rear of the oven).
Left / Rear - Closer to the rear, but not all the way back
Left / Front - Just in front of the center of the oven

I finished my oven just before Christmas and cooked our first pizzas Christmas evening. Since then we have cooked over 100 and we’ll do another 20 this weekend. I have to admit I did not follow your directions and I put my 3 burners on the right side (I was lazy and just wanted to be done and cook some pizza). In hind sight I would probably have put 2 burners in the back wall angled towards the center. I had a crazy notion of using the burners for a quick pie at lunch without using wood. Unfortunately they only get the oven up to about 600 after 20 min without wood. They are really good to get the firewood heated up to a roaring fire fast which is why I would put the burners in the back. I load the oven up to the ceiling with medium to big logs, all pushed to the right side and run the burners for 15 to 20 min and its off to the races. We can be cooking pizzas in 40 min. That will probably be faster in the summer but its typically been in the 50s since I have been cooking. Its winter here in Phoenix so my firewood has been wet too. With the burners there is no kindling or fire starting skills needed. I’m still using my first 5 gal propane tank too. I made a video to show how the burners were installed that I will try to get posted. I am technology challenged so don’t hold your breath.

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Congratulations on completing your oven! It sounds like you’re getting good use from it already (Christmas Eve pizza? Deck the halls!).

I’m wondering how it would perform if you had used the recommended gas jet placements. Achieving 600°F in 20 minutes still sounds very usable, though. That’s about 50° hotter than the top cooking temp of my kitchen range, and I can turn out excellent pies from that with the help of a pizza steel. You can also do a lot of other baking and roasting at those temperatures.

I’m intrigued with the main application: starting the oven quickly. I wonder if the structure is being stressed from being heated up that quickly. If you are in an warm area like Phoenix (and believe me, 50s sounds like beach weather to us in the Northeast this time of year), it may not be as big an issue for your oven.

Hope you have many pizzas in your future!

Congrats on finishing the oven!

BikerBudMatt is correct on firing the oven up too quickly - that could EASILY lead to Thermal Shock and oven cracking.

Thermal Shock is when the oven heats up rapidly in one spot / area - but other areas of the oven aren’t heating at the same rate. So you have one area of the oven that is 200°… and another at 800° or 900°. That quick temp change can cause Thermal Shock - which is a fancy term for “You just heated your oven up so fast, you just shocked (cracked) your oven”.

As much as I would like to say - throw a pizza in the oven during your lunch break… Real masonry ovens (all brands) have to be fired slowly and evenly.