Does A Pizza Oven Need A Chimney?

By Kitchen Warrior | Pizza Tools Advice

pizza oven chimney
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One of the best additions to a backyard is a pizza oven. Building one is a great way to cook your meal while sitting outside to relax. One concern many people have with using a pizza oven is the smoke. After all, the last thing anybody wants while sitting outside to relax is a patio filled with smoke. The best way to prevent a buildup of unwanted smoke is to ensure that your pizza oven is vented.

Many people don’t realize just how important ventilation is for pizza ovens. They mistakenly assume that since it is outside, it doesn’t need anything such as a chimney. However, pizza ovens do require ventilation, so if you are having problems with smoke filling your patios or are just getting ready to build your first pizza oven, there are a few things that you need to know.

Does a Pizza Oven Need to Be Vented?

A pizza oven burns solid fuel, and any appliance that burns solid fuel requires ventilation. Using a chimney on a pizza oven does a lot of things that many homeowners don’t realize. First, it ensures that the flames are burning efficiently, which helps with cooking. The chimney allows for better air circulation, which plays a huge role in keeping the flames going. Air circulation also helps evenly distribute the heat throughout the oven and its chamber.

The chimney also pulls smoke away from the patio and out of the oven. The smoke is sucked up the chimney, sent up above where people are sitting, and pulled away from the food. Nobody wants pizza that tastes like smoke.

Where Should the Chimney Be on a Pizza Oven?

Knowing that a pizza oven requires a chimney is just the first step. The next thing is figuring out where the chimney needs to go. If you do any kind of research online, you can get a variety of answers. Some of them make no sense to a beginner at all.

The best spot to place a chimney on a pizza oven is on top of the oven. Most of the time, you will see the chimney coming up from the top of the dome. Sometimes you will see it on the side. Knowing where to place the chimney is not about looks. It is about how well your pizza oven is going to work.

Chimney placement is important because it affects heat retention and airflow. Any reputable designer will agree that the ideal chimney for a pizza oven is between 60% to 70% of the dome height. This is especially important to remember if you are building your oven from clay or fire bricks rather than buying an oven ventilation kit.

When determining the placement for the chimney opening, most ovens have the vent opening directly above the door opening. There is a second option where the vent opening is placed above the door, but the vent runs along the top of the oven until it exits from the chamber’s center. Many builders are starting to use the second design as it offers better heat retention as the heat travels back over the dome before exiting the oven chamber.

Why Does My Pizza Oven Still Smoke So Much?

Even though you have a correctly installed chimney on your pizza oven, it can still smoke. Although the typical reason a pizza oven smokes is the lack of a ventilation flue, there are other reasons why it smokes a lot. No matter what the reason is, you want to get to the bottom of it. Nobody wants to breathe in a face full of smoke while cooking, nor do they want smoky-tasting pizza.

One of the biggest reasons why a pizza oven produces a large amount of smoke is the type of wood being used. Never use wet wood when cooking a pizza, as it burns slower and creates a lot more smoke. The wood used in a pizza oven should have less than 20% moisture content. If you aren’t sure if your wood is dry enough, you can purchase moisture meters for your wood.

You also want to use hardwood, not softwood, because of the burn speed. Softwood burns slower, so it produces a lot of smoke. For best results, go out and purchase some kiln-dried wood.

How much wood you are adding also plays a role in how much smoke is produced. All it takes is a couple of pieces of quality wood at a time. Always pay attention to how you place the wood into the oven, as a fire needs oxygen to burn efficiently. Place the logs several inches apart for maximum airflow.

Where your pizza oven is located can also cause smoke issues. In some locations, wind or air is forced back down the chimney. This downdraught, as it’s called, causes the oven to smoke, as the air coming back down the flue doesn't allow the smoke to escape. If your oven is portable, try moving it to a different location. If not, you will need to make adjustments to the flue itself.

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