Author Topic: Soapstone vs Cordierite  (Read 12550 times)

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Offline oyoy71

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Soapstone vs Cordierite
« on: August 05, 2010, 09:14:43 AM »
I have used soapstone in my electric kitchen oven for several years now. But now I want to convert my Weber Smokey Mountain to a charcoal burning pizza oven. I have picked up a tip how to get it up to 550F-600F, but I can't decide witch stone to buy. I want a round stone for my weber. I was going for a soapstone until I read that ceramic was best for baking pizza. Then I found out that there was two kinds of ceramic. FibraMent and Cordierite. After reading some of these post, FibraMent doesn't cut it in a wood fired environment. I only bake Italian style pizzas, but I also want to bake bread on my stone. If soapstone handles uneven heating best, and it's available locally, perhaps I should go for it again?

I'll post some pictures and results here.


Offline Art

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2010, 09:44:20 AM »
....... After reading some of these post, FibraMent doesn't cut it in a wood fired environment. .......

From the Fibrament site:

Can FibraMent be used in wood burning ovens and outdoor patio grills?

Although FibraMent has a 1500įF continuous use operating temperature limit, it cannot be exposed directly to flame.  The flame diverter that comes with our barbecue grill stones must be used.  If a flame diverter can't be used, we have a special flame resistant material for your application.  For pricing, phone or e-mail our office with your baking chamber size.  Include as many details about your oven as necessary.
When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste.

Offline sear

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2010, 09:58:33 AM »
depends on the price for me, im in the same situation.
im considering getting cordierite if its cheaper then the soapstone.

fibrament is the same price as the soap stone i can get but does not preform as well so its out.

scott123

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2010, 11:20:07 AM »
Oyvind, soapstone does heat evenly and it's extremely durable in a direct flame setting, but it may not be the best material in every grill scenario. 

The biggest obstacle in grilling is baking the top of the pizza as quickly as the bottom.  With heat (generally) coming from below, the hearth is invariably putting out way too much heat as compared to the heat radiating off the ceiling.  This anemic ceiling heat can be mitigated, to an extent, by lowering the ceiling as much as possible and by using a deflector beneath the hearth to point hot air away and up, but it isn't an easy task.  By using a hearth with a higher conductivity (soapstone), you're baking the bottom of the pizza faster and creating more of a ceiling/hearth ratio problem, not less.

Member Jackie Tran found grill success by essentially handicapping his hearth by using relatively poor thermally conductive firebrick. Firebrick is durable in direct flame settings and it's the cheapest baking stone material you can buy. Depending on your heat source, though, it can heat unevenly. He is working with 700+ degrees and a gas flame, so his situation is a little different.

As far as the best material for baking pizza- it's not necessarily ceramic.  It's the material that can transfer the right amount of heat in the correct amount of time.  In an electric home oven that can't output the same amount of heat as a commercial deck pizza oven, then you want a conductive stone to make up the difference. In this scenario, soapstone is ideal.

550-600, as far as grills go, is kind of chilly.  It's basically an electric oven without the broiler.  And that 'without the broiler' factor is bad- really bad.  Hearth-wise, thick cordierite (1") or soapstone works beautifully at that temp (for NY style pizza), but the ceiling- without a broiler, you're up the creek without a paddle.  I'm in the process of testing a two soapstone setup with charcoal being placed below the hearth AND on top of the ceiling stone.  I think, if I go with enough charcoal on top, I might be able to have a decent ceiling to hearth ratio. Maybe.  I went with soapstone because I can get it relatively inexpensively, but if you're paying more than $30 sq./ft. for it, then I'd go with what I believe will be a superior ceiling material- 3/8-1/2" steel slab.

At some point, I'll be putting charcoal right on top of my soapstone baking surface, but I'm not that excited about the prospect of having to brush ashes to the side to bake the pizza. 

I'm also working with a grill with a cooking area of 19 x 25 with a tall enough ceiling that I can basically build whatever ceiling setup I want.  A Smokey Mountain doesn't give you much room to play with.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but you're looking at a difficult task.  I'd read every 'egg' thread you can find here as well as Jackie's experiments with charcoal.

Offline Tampa

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2010, 12:08:32 PM »
Good post Scott.

scott123

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2010, 12:26:05 PM »
Thanks, Dave  :)

Offline oyoy71

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2010, 09:21:08 AM »
Thank you Scott. That was a lot of good info. I currently reading on the egg post, and picking up all the experience others have made. Here in Norway fall is soon upon us, but that wont stop me. I will try without any top heat reflecting device first. If no that doesn't work out well, I'll have to think out  another build.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2010, 10:25:09 AM »
Scott, I'm sure you've already consider this but does your grill have a rear rotisserie burner?  I'm quite positive that is the way to go to get top sided heat as Dave has already done.  I was at Lowe's checking out their grills and I have seen several for around $250.  Very tempting.    I'm sure that setup will have it's limitations as well compared to a WFO.   

I very briefly experimented with coals over a cookie pan and coals on the firebrick floor brushed aside.  I had very limited success with either of these techniques.  The coals didn't seem to stay hot enough or to radiate enough heat.  One of the thoughts I had is that coals need a lot of oxygen to stay superheated.  Once the grill oven door is closed, it limits the amount of oxygen to the coals and the heat output seems to be squashed.   A possible remedy for this is to leave the grill top vented a couple of inches as seen in the original 2stone setup for use with charcoal grills. 

chau
« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 10:39:10 AM by Jackie Tran »

scott123

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2010, 11:25:32 AM »
Oyoy71, you're welcome :)

Chau- coals over a cookie pan- was that in a ceiling scenario?  How far was the ceiling from the hearth?  Was the top of the grill closed? If it was a ceiling, how hot were you able to get the pan?  How anemic was the top coloring?

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2010, 11:45:49 AM »
Oyoy71, you're welcome :)

Chau- coals over a cookie pan- was that in a ceiling scenario?  How far was the ceiling from the hearth?  Was the top of the grill closed? If it was a ceiling, how hot were you able to get the pan?  How anemic was the top coloring?


This was awhile back when I was fooling around with the Primo bake. The pan acted as the ceiling and it was about 2.5" from the hearth.  Just barely enough room to scoot a pie in.  I don't recall measuring the temp of the pan.  The top of the grill was closed down, but in my primo I have a bottom and top vent.  Both were opened 100%.  I never did repeat the experiment with the lid cracked about 1-2".
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10974.20.html  I know that is a wimpy pile of coals.  Right after I took that pic, I doubled up on the coals and did a retest.  I only put coals on half of the pan to compare the difference b/t coals vs not.  The coals did brown the crust more on top but not much more.  The browing you see on those pies were created by keeping the rim close to the edge of the hearth.  I was judging how much heat was coming down from the coal pan by eyeballing the bubbling of the cheese.  It was not as much as i had expected.   I think much of the heat from the coals was rising with the air current in my primo, straight up.

I ulitmately found the technique of edging the rim to work better in my set up so I just stuck with that. 

Chau
« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 11:54:20 AM by Jackie Tran »


scott123

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2010, 12:43:03 PM »
Hmmmm... 

Within my 4.5 minute bake time, I think that setup might actually work, but... I don't think I can launch a 17" pie with 2.5" clearance. 

I'm wondering what a wood fire on the (soapstone) ceiling would do.

Thanks, that's useful info.  Since I was considering a 6" gap, this save me at least one failed attempt.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2010, 01:00:09 PM »
wood fired coals or lump charcoal (really the same thing) on the stone would work very well I'm sure and a lot less ash to contend with.  Charcoal briquettes is just too messy. 

I'm not sure about a fire on the ceiling stone itself as most of that heat just rises and is lost. 

Chau

Offline Bobino414

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2010, 12:01:44 PM »

(Background music:  Funeral March for a Marionette)

In a not so solemn ceremony my soapstone was retired.  No parade.  Not even a gold watch!  Just straight to moth balls. 
It takes three times longer to get to desired temperature.
I did not notice an improvement in the final product.  Even though it has greater mass than my Cordierite stone, it did not make a difference in helping to correct the uneven heat distribution of my deck oven; the  pies still required multiple repositionings.  Since I rarely bake more than three pies at a time, the heat retention of the Soapstone was of little value imo. 
So right now it is resting in the "Scott 123 Home for Wayward Soapstones"    RIP

Bob

scott123

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2010, 12:14:28 PM »
 :-D

Bob, I think your experience pretty much rules out soapstone's usefulness in deck ovens.

Online norma427

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2010, 03:17:29 PM »
(Background music:  Funeral March for a Marionette)

In a not so solemn ceremony my soapstone was retired. the heat retention of the Soapstone was of little value imo. 


Bob

Bob,

Your post was interesting.  I haven't tried my soapstone I bought at home as of this date.  I am also wondering if they soapstone is better than a cordierite stone.  I guess I will find out.  ::)

Norma
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Offline Bobino414

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2010, 04:42:55 PM »

Norma

I am glad you will be trying out the soapstone to see if you get similar results. It seems like I am the only one out there who has tried to compare the Cordierite with the Soapstone and not be a convert.  It's lonely !!
Will you be trying your stone at home or at the market? 
Or both?  Now that would REALLY be good so others can compare the value of soapstone for their given setup; it may be great in a home setting.
I only bake in a deck oven.
See if your warmup times are similar to mine (post below)

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?action=post;quote=105489;topic=11394.40;sesc=bd27cc0961c1609eb29147e5283bd171

Save me Norma!

Bob



Online norma427

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2010, 04:57:39 PM »
Bob,

I am also anxious to try out soapstone to see what kind of results I can get.  When I purchased the soapstone I had them cut it into two pieces.  One for my home BBQ grill set-up or for use in my 1/4 convection oven at market.  I am not trying it out in my regular Bakerís Pride oven at market, because that already has stones.  I did also receive a free piece of soapstone to try out, in addition to the piece I bought and had split in two.  I gave that to Steve (Ev) to try out in his home oven for awhile.  We can also see if he gets better results at his home with using soapstone, too.  The only place I have tried out the soapstone so far is in the 1/4 size convection oven at market.  There I had mixed results because the convection part of the oven was off when Steve loaded the pie.  Hopefully soon I will get to try the soapstone in my home oven.  My regular Codierite 16" pizza stone seems to do a good job in my home oven and that oven only gets a little over 500 degrees F.  I also wanted to test out if soapstone is better.  I didnít try the soapstone in my BBQ set-up either.  The BBQ grill set-up has firebricks on the grill now.

I caní get that link to work that you posted.

I donít know if I will be able to save you or not.  Time will tell.  ::)

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline Tampa

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2010, 06:17:26 PM »
Norma - I think this is the link: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11394.msg105489.html#msg105489

Thanks for all the great posts.  Love the waffle pizza- lots of nooks and crannies for ingredients.

Dave

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2010, 06:45:36 PM »
Dave,

Thanks for the link.  It will be interesting to compare your results with mine and Steveís while using 4 different oven set-ups.  (my oven, BBQ set-up, market 1/4 size convection oven, and Steveís home oven).  After we do each test, either Steve or I will report back on the results.  Steve and I really couldnít be conclusive with the 1/4 size convection oven, but it seemed to get a little less oven spring, then my deck oven. But then the convection wasnít on, so I donít know how that compares.  Reply 19, 20 and 21 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11493.msg106343.html#msg106343
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11493.msg106346.html#msg106346
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,11493.msg106347.html#msg106347

Steve has a bigger Codierite stone for his home oven than I do.

Thanks for saying you like my posts and waffle iron pizza.

Norma
« Last Edit: August 19, 2010, 06:48:58 PM by norma427 »
Always working and looking for new information!

Online norma427

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Re: Soapstone vs Cordierite
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2010, 09:27:14 AM »
Bobino414,


This was my second test while using the soapstone.  I didnít measure temperatures on the soapstone as many times as your recent test, but these are the temperatures that I got last evening, when measuring the top temperatures on the soapstone.  These were taken in my home oven, which doesnít get to very high temperatures. My home oven was turned up the whole way.

Soapstone temps

15 minutes 283 degrees F
30 minutes 380 degrees F
45 minutes 428 degrees F
60 minutes 505 degrees F

Then broiler was turned on for a little while

temperature on the soapstone then went to 535 degrees F.  I didnít want to let the broiler on longer, because my kitchen was getting too hot.

When oven was turned off temperatures dropped.

Ĺ hour 395 degrees F
1 hour   325 degrees F
2 hours 225 degrees F

and this morning 110 degrees F

I donít know what all this means at this point, but my pie didnít bake any better on the soapstone than on my 16" cordierite baking stone.  The positive thing I saw, that it was easier to launch a pie onto the larger stone. I had my soapstone on the second to the top baking rack. If I would have moved the soapstone to my top rack, I wouldnít have had enough space to launch my pie.

My home oven is old and doesnít get that high in temperature. I will do more tests and see if I think the soapstone is better than the cordierite.  Just because the soapstone has more mass, it didnít produce a better pizza, higher oven spring or quicker baked pie in my opinion. The dough formula I used was one I just tried yesterday with my newly activated starter, long bulk room ferment, balled, more room ferment, cold ferment.  Flour used was KASL in combination with the Ischia starter. There were bubbles in my opened skin and this dough was 64% hydration.  Bake time was 6 minutes.  I am also wondering if the soapstone is really superior to the cordierite stone.  ::)

Picture of my stone below.

Norma
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