Author Topic: Cordierite Kiln Shelf 5/8" or 1"  (Read 4041 times)

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Offline hockman4357

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Cordierite Kiln Shelf 5/8" or 1"
« on: January 18, 2012, 02:26:33 PM »
I am in the process of purchasing my first pizza stone.  I have decided to go with a 16" x 16" Cordierite Kiln Shelf.  I can purchase either a 5/8" thick or a 1" thick Cordierite Kiln Shelf.  My oven will heat up to 550 degrees.  Which would be the better choice?  The price difference is about $20 with the 1" shelf costing more.  Thanks in advance for the advice.


scott123

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Re: Cordierite Kiln Shelf 5/8" or 1"
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2012, 05:32:53 PM »
Hockman, as far as baking stones go, 1" cordierite isn't bad, but for NY style at 550 degrees, it can't guarantee respectable bake times. 1/2" Steel is a much better choice.  It's heavy, but it will give you the thermal mass and conductivity for fast NY style bakes- and it should be cheaper than the options you're looking at.

If you want something lighter than steel and have the money to spend, 3/4" silicon carbide is ideal.

Is your oven gas or electric? If it's gas, does it have a separate compartment for the broiler?

Offline hockman4357

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Re: Cordierite Kiln Shelf 5/8" or 1"
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2012, 08:09:53 PM »
Hockman, as far as baking stones go, 1" cordierite isn't bad, but for NY style at 550 degrees, it can't guarantee respectable bake times. 1/2" Steel is a much better choice.  It's heavy, but it will give you the thermal mass and conductivity for fast NY style bakes- and it should be cheaper than the options you're looking at.

If you want something lighter than steel and have the money to spend, 3/4" silicon carbide is ideal.

Is your oven gas or electric? If it's gas, does it have a separate compartment for the broiler?

These are tough decisions for novices!  I cancelled the order that I had in for the cordierite kiln shelf to give this some additional thought.  My oven is electric, and I only have one compartment.  I will be primarily doing NY and Neapolitan style bakes.  I thought that a cordierite kiln shelf would be just what the doctor ordered.  It sounds like the 1" shelf would be best when considering cordierite, but I am open to steel if it would make a substantial difference.  The 16" x 16" - 1" cordierite shelf that I priced was $55.  I also priced a 16" x 16" cut steel piece and it came in at $45.  In you opinion, would I definitely be happier with the steel?  What about the 3/4" silicon carbide?  Is the silicon carbide an improvement over both the cordierite and the steel?  What would a 16" x 16" - 34" silicon carbide piece run?  Where would I buy one?  Any and all specifics would be greatly appreciated!

Offline barryvabeach

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Re: Cordierite Kiln Shelf 5/8" or 1"
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2012, 07:17:49 AM »
I don't know anything about silicon carbide, but I have a steel plate and several cordierite shelves.  My opinion is that steel works best in the mid 500 range - it transmits heat to the pie much more efficiently, so you will get a crispier pie bottom in the mid 500's with steel over cordierite. Cordierite works better in the mid 600's  than steel - at that temp, the pie bottom would get pretty burned with steel, but gets spotted with cordierite.   Scott is the real expert and can tell you the optimal thickness of the cordierite,  I have just started experimenting with that,  Check Axner, if they have the size you want, their prices are very good, and they pack the shelves very well.

scott123

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Re: Cordierite Kiln Shelf 5/8" or 1"
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2012, 08:50:43 PM »
Hockman, I spent some time sourcing 16 x 16 x 3/4" silicon carbide and, so far, I'm coming up short.  I did crunch some numbers and, from a thermal mass perspective, I really believe 3/4" is necessary. Even though member November used silicon carbide years ago, from a NY style perspective, it's still a bit new.  If you can wait, then I might have better luck sourcing it, otherwise, I'd go with steel.

I don't think steel can do Neapolitan in an unmodded oven.  Silicon carbide (SiC) might, but the jury's still out. Honestly, Neapolitan in a home oven is a bit of a crapshoot.  If you've got a really strong broiler, then you might be able to pre-heat 3/4" SiC to 550 turn on the broiler and, maybe, achieve a sub 2 minute Neapolitan bake. Maybe.  If your broiler is weaker, which, from what I'm seeing applies to most people, then you've got to do a trick that will push the oven temp higher, and aid in top browning, but, if you're working with a conductive hearth like SiC or steel, that higher temp might burn the bottom of the pizza, so when you get into oven mods, it can actually sometimes be helpful to be working with less conductive stones, such as the cordierite kiln shelf you were looking at.  As you get into modding, though, you have to make the decision of how high you're going to push your oven.  Lower temps = easier on the oven. Higher temps = harder on the oven. If you're willing to go very high (700ish), then you want one of the least conductive stones you can get, such as fibrament or quarry tile.

Neapolitan in a home oven is like trying to find your way through a maze.  Two people out of maybe 50 to 100 have obtained the holy grail.  A lot of it boils down to luck. I've started looking at broiler wattages/coil arrangements in hopes of measuring broiler strength, but that's really no guarantee. Getting Neapolitan bake times in anything other than a WFO is proving to be especially difficult.  On the LBE side, it's like 4 people out of maybe 100s.

If you can find out the wattage of your broiler and take a photo to show coil arrangement, then I might be able to give you an idea if pursuing Neapolitan is worthwhile, otherwise, NY style is SO much easier.  1/2" steel plate and you're good to go.

« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 08:54:32 PM by scott123 »

Offline barryvabeach

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Re: Cordierite Kiln Shelf 5/8" or 1"
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2012, 09:26:15 PM »
Scott,  I don't think this is a hijack, but what is the idea between choosing a 1 inch cordierite stone over a 5/8 inch.  My guess is it has to do with how much energy is stored in the stone, but if that is right, is that stored energy only good for the first pie?  I haven't finished my testing yet, but I took out the stock cordierite stones in my Bakers Pride 18 inch double deck 110 volt oven and put in 1 inch cordierite stones.  The preheat times went from about 1 1/2 hours to about 2 hours.  While I think that the thicker stones dropped less in temp after the first pie, I would guess they would take much longer to heat up - so by the second or third pie, I would guess you would have to wait a while to get the stones back up to temp.