Author Topic: Refractory clay versus refractory concrete? Main question in a rambling post.  (Read 1302 times)

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Offline jayl65

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I've been researching modular cast ovens for a while now. I'm glad I have taken my time as more questions and pros and cons of different oven shapes,dome height, ect continue to present themselves.  My latest questions concern the cast dome refractory materials. Heat up time versus heat retention and hearth floor materials.

I will once again preface the fact that although I realize this is a pizza forum. I would like to use the oven for more general cooking. I am willing to compromise dome height door ratios for VPN to get a more versatile oven. And this forum has continued to be one of the best online sources for wood fired oven information. Unlike many members here who have cooked in different ovens and have experience doing so. I have not. My vast experience is derived from eating wood fired pizza and food  from non VPN pizzerias and restaurants. Having true Neapolitan pizza in Naples and Sorrento. Roman pizza in Rome and finally VPN certified pizza from Settebello in Las Vegas and Youtube videos. So I don't have any real WFO cooking experience.

Italian clay refractory ovens like Volariani and Zio Ciro distributed by Mugnaini and Los Angeles Ovenworks claim to have fast heat up times due to the dual layer casting process of clay and clay aggregate. The also feature floors of compressed fired hearth tiles much like the Earthstone and Le Panyol.
To me the heat retention would be less on these ovens because of the less dense structure of the refractory materials. But they weight as much as refractory concrete. I always thought more weight equaled more heat mass. Do they cool down quicker. Pros and cons?

Im over the dome versus barrel shape thing. I know the dome is better and the barrel will work. Ive had the opportunity to so correspond with users of both designs and they all attain good results. I've eaten at Settebello 3 times in the last three weeks and the pizza is equal to the pizza I had in Naples. I know they use one of the best ovens on the market and every pizza Ive seen them bake has been domed. So this leads me to believe that the oven and technique are controlled by the chef with the ovens limitations being managed by them. So with this in mind I can see where its possible to use any oven if you want to search and define its parameters and master them. I get this, but I want to have a good start with as little headaches as possible from the start.  I know good food and have traveled and eaten all over the world, but I don't have stereophonic HD tastebuds and with my steep learning curve and limited experience I just want to attain good. Great will come! I hope.

So at this point its size, heat up time and heat retention. I want to cook a turkey. Not now, but I want the option. Maybe even a small pig. I want to grill and smoke. I think I want to use the oven all week especially during the winter months. Its an indoor install. So a nice draft, versatile, heat holding, higher dome, bigger door is in order. I know, dont throw me out of the forum. So!

Faster heat up times versus longer heat up time? Constant restoking versus less frequent. Wood consumption? Clay versus concrete since brick is out of my budget for now.

Ovens considered.
FGM
Fogazzo
Los Angeles Ovenworks or Mugnaini. Thought these were out of the question, but might be perfect for the style of cooking I want to do.
Earthstone.
Wildwood.
Pavesi. Pricey, but getting my attention. Cant see why the refractory is so much better than the others. Are they really worth it?

Thanks to everyone for their help so far. I appreciate all of the input.


Offline TXCraig1

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Quote
To me the heat retention would be less on these ovens because of the less dense structure of the refractory materials. But they weight as much as refractory concrete. I always thought more weight equaled more heat mass. Do they cool down quicker.

The term "heat mass" or "thermal mass" as it is often used here is somewhat misreading. Yes, more mass = more ability to store heat, all other things being equal. However, the amount of heat that can be stored in a given mass of two different materials can vary quite a bit, and it is not a function of density nor is it a function of conductivity. Unless you understand the material, you can't fully understand the "heat mass"

Styrofoam, for example can store almost 30% more heat that firebrick per unit mass (per kg for example) and 333% more than copper yet the fire brick is on the order of 30X more conductive and the copper is 12,000X more conductive. Even though Styrofoam can store a lot of heat per kg, that doesn't make it a good material for building overs (ignoring that it can't take that kind of heat), one kg of styrofoal occupies a lot of space. This is where density comes into play.

The "heat mass" is the product of the mass and the specific heat capacity of the material. Whereas, the heat retention (and warm-up time) is also a function of the conductivity - the lower the conductivity, the slower the heat moves through the mass to be lost to radiation or conduction to the air at the surface (a.k.a insulation) - likewise, the lower the conductivity, the slower a material is to heat up.

The bottom line is that you need the right combination of mass, heat capacity, density, and conductivity.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Tscarborough

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In other words, don't overthink it, just read the reviews and buy what fits your budget, your space, and your expectations the best.

Offline jayl65

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The bottom line is that you need the right combination of mass, heat capacity, density, and conductivity.

That was a mouthful TXCraig1. This is the reason for my confusion at this point. I feel like I have to guess for the most part. I can rely on the vendors descriptions and reviews, but I'm not an expert on refractory materials or oven thermal dynamics and design.

Offline breadstoneovens

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If you can't offer a bricked dome oven then I am sure you will be very happy with a concrete dome.

You will get used to what you buy and learn to use it to the best of its capacities.

There will be plenty of people on this forum to help you make the most of it  ;)

Antoine
WFO cooking is about passion.

Offline breadstoneovens

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I'm not an expert on refractory materials or oven thermal dynamics and design.

For having spoken with many people who claim to be experts, I can tell you no one is. Your best shot, as said earlier, is to trust the end users feedback and don't over think it.

Antoine
WFO cooking is about passion.

Offline stonecutter

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I installed a modular oven from Mugnaini over 9 years ago. Nice oven, a good shape that leaned toward all purpose...and it is a good performing oven. They are helpful if you have questions too.
http://oldworldstoneandgarden.com/


When we build, let us think that we build for ever.
John Ruskin

Offline Serpentelli

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« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 01:36:20 PM by Serpentelli »
I'm not wearing hockey pads!

Offline TXCraig1

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In other words, don't overthink it, just read the reviews and buy what fits your budget, your space, and your expectations the best.

 ^^^
Pizza is not bread.

Offline shuboyje

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What you are looking for sounds like a dead ringer description of a Pompeii oven.  Any inclination to build your own or find a mason to build one EXACTLY per the plans for you?
-Jeff


Offline jayl65

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Jeff,
I just finished a wood heater hearth remodel with lots of real stone veneer work so I'm a little tired right now with DYI.  Because of cost Im looking into the modular units which I will still need to instal myself. The Pompeii oven looks great and I thought about it but, its also going inside my kitchen in a relatively small area. I just think it would be a nightmare trying to build a Pompeii oven there.  Maybe outside in the future.


Offline Serpentelli

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Jeff,
I just finished a wood heater hearth remodel with lots of real stone veneer work so I'm a little tired right now with DYI.  Because of cost Im looking into the modular units which I will still need to instal myself. The Pompeii oven looks great and I thought about it but, its also going inside my kitchen in a relatively small area. I just think it would be a nightmare trying to build a Pompeii oven there.  Maybe outside in the future.

What's your budget for the "guts" of the oven (keeping in mind that shipping may range from $250 -$1000++ for the refractory pieces depending on your location and size of oven)?

I have, and will continue to sing the praises of my cheap but efficient workhorse from Eugene at grillsnovens.com. It ain't fancy but it really performs well. Don't forget that you have to add on insulating materials and of course your build out. I have the 120 cm oven. Shipping was very reasonable --- I'm on the East Coast.

http://www.grillsnovens.com/products/wood-fired-pizza-ovens/wood-fired-oven.html

John K
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 01:17:11 PM by Serpentelli »
I'm not wearing hockey pads!

Offline jayl65

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What's your budget for the "guts" of the oven (keeping in mind that shipping may range from $250 -$1000++ for the refractory pieces depending on your location and size of oven)

Shipping is a concern. Living in the southwest it would be better from Breadstone in TX or any of the CA vendors. Although, I did get a good quote from Bel Forno in NC.  I contacted Grills-N-ovens and checked into the Volta ovens. I cant remember how much, but he also gave me a decent shipping quote. The most exspensive on shipping have been the Pavesi.

Offline Serpentelli

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I would like to think of my Volta 120 as the "Blackstone Oven" of WFO's.

It is a beast; nowehere near as nice as its competitors, but built (and priced) for the masses.

The cost of the Volta 120 (shipping included) is $2100. I haven't priced the nicer ovens in quite a while but I think this puppy still blows the doors of any others of similar size, in terms of price.

http://www.grillsnovens.com/products/wood-fired-pizza-ovens/wood-burning-oven.html

I have NO financial relationship with this oven maker/seller! :)

John K
I'm not wearing hockey pads!

Offline stonecutter

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That's a very good price for what you get.
http://oldworldstoneandgarden.com/


When we build, let us think that we build for ever.
John Ruskin

Offline Serpentelli

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I think I may have given Eugene a heart attack when I told him that I was going to be assembling the oven; using it; disassembling it and then reassembling it. But I did over the course of about 1 year, and despite my fears of it cracking from the move, the only cracks are the "spider cracks" inherent in the surface of the dome pieces.

So it seems like a very sturdy material.

Which does nothing for me in terms of my lust for a "true" Neapolitan oven.  :drool:

John K
I'm not wearing hockey pads!