Do Outdoor Pizza Ovens Need a Chimney? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Do outdoor pizza ovens need a chimney?

Well, the wood-fired ovens only produce smoke during start-up.

Otherwise, the gas fueled-oven doesn’t make as much smoke. 

But, Do they really need a chimney? 

Although a pizza oven chimney is not required, we understand that there are more reasons why a beginner would think that their pizza oven doesn’t need a chimney. 

But the truth is, a pizza oven needs ventilation. There are many other reasons that we will discuss in this article. 

So, keep reading to find out. However, let us start by understanding how a pizza oven works.

Let’s get started!

How Do Outdoor Pizza Ovens Work?

Outdoor pizza ovens work by cooking pizza with fire in the oven or cooking through heat retaining.

Reflected heating, convection, and conductions are three processes that occur while cooking if you choose to have a fire in the oven. 

As we go through these cooking methods, you should keep in mind that there are three methods of fueling the outdoor oven.

Wood-fired ovens are the most common outdoors, but others, like charcoal and gas-fueled outdoor pizza ovens.

How It Gets to High Temperatures Without Cooling

You probably wonder why pizza ovens get hot to specific temperatures.

Or how do companies or people build them to maintain a particular temperature? The magic is all in the dense material, called the thermal mass.

Many outdoor ovens are well insulated with dense material to retain the heat in the oven. 

So when you heat the pizza oven, the walls and the floor absorb the heat. The air movement in the oven also helps in heating the interior. 

As the air heats, it transfers the heat to the walls and floor. That is why the temperature in the outdoor oven keeps getting hotter. 

So let’s have a look at how you can cook your pizza in the oven:

Cooking with Fire Inside the Oven

Typically, you will leave the outdoor fire to preheat for almost 45 minutes to an hour before placing the pizza inside to cook. 

At this point, you can either use the wood, charcoal, or gas-fueled pizza oven. All three processes will happen to your pizza while it cools.

You then place the pizza in the oven with a pizza peel. Yes! It’s time to invest in one.

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Reflected Heat

Do you know why many outdoor pizza ovens are circular or dome-shaped? Yes, it’s aesthetically pleasing and upgrades the look of your backyard.

But, the dome and curved shape reflect or bounce the heated air to the top of the pizza.

Convection

The heated air moves upwards because it is less dense, and the cool air moves below. This creates a circular movement of air. 

So the hot air will cook the pizza and heat the dense internal material. The same air will move to the heat source for heat.

Conduction

After the dense materials absorb the heat, they transfer it to the cooler pizza area. 

In turn, this will heat the pizza topping, and the brick below will transfer the heat to the pizza crust on the pan.

Heat Retention

This process involves cooking the pizza without a fire source. You will first preheat the oven for no less than an hour. During this time, the walls and floor store the heat. 

The following process is to remove the heat source, such as your wood charcoal, or turn off the gas. Then place the pizza in the oven.

You will watch the pizza cook because the dense material keeps heating the food.

It would help if you remembered that the dense material releases heat slowly, which is why the oven will take too long to cool. For example, an outdoor oven will heat from 700F (400C) to 160F (70C). 

In short, you are cooking the pizza with retained heat.

Factors Affecting the Time It Takes for The Oven to Heat Up

  • Wind: Your outdoor pizza oven will take more time to heat up on a windy day. So, there will not be time for the fast-moving air to be hot and heat the walls.
  • Type of Wood: Hardwood or wood with a lower moisture content burns fast, which heats the outdoor pizza more quickly.
  • Size of Oven: It is better to get a small pizza oven, mainly if you use it at home. It will take less time to heat the thermostat mass and preserve heat longer for a small outdoor pizza oven.
  • The Type of Insulating Layer: The materials you use also have different heat absorption and heat loss levels. 

Therefore, the time taken to heat the walls and floor will depend on whether your pizza oven is made of tiles or brick.

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What Is the Purpose of the Chimney On a Pizza Oven?

The chimney on a pizza oven will release the smoke from wood-fuel or charcoal-fueled pizza ovens into the air. 

But how does the smoke pass through the chimney? 

A pizza oven without a chimney has poor air circulation because it uses the oven opening to draw in cool air and release hot air or smoke. 

Therefore, the pizza oven will take a long time to heat up. However, having a chimney improves air circulation through convection. So how does it work?

The oven door draws in cool air, heating up and becoming less dense. The less-dense hot air will move, heating the walls and passing through the chimney.

Do Outdoor Pizza Ovens Need a Chimney?

Outdoor pizza ovens need chimneys to improve air circulation, remove and redirect smoke, and improve performance.  It is not required to have a chimney in a pizza oven, those ovens that don’t have a chimney ventilate through the main opening of the oven sometimes called the “mouth”.

It is fun to sit in the backyard with friends and family while you bake pizza. 

However, this can be disrupted by the choking smoke, which is also harmful. 

So, having a chimney will help get rid of the smoke by redirecting and releasing it into the air.

The other problem comes when smoke gets trapped in the wood-fired pizza oven. Because the circulation is slow, your pizza will end up having acquired a smoke flavor. No. We are not talking about the mild flavor we usually get when bailing on a standard wood-fueled pizza oven. This taste is worse.

Also, smoke causes climate change and air pollution. Some companies have smoke extraction equipment to help clean the smoke before releasing it into the air. 

So a chimney is important because it gives you a space to install and directs the smoke through the extraction equipment.

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The Importance of a Chimney in an Outdoor Pizza Oven

The following are some of the benefits of having a chimney in an outdoor pizza oven:

  • The chimney will direct the smoke away from the chef and the people close to him.
  • You can install a smoke filter to reduce the amount of air pollution.
  • Your pizza will taste better.
  • The air circulation in the oven will improve, and the oven will cook or heat faster.

Chimney Position in Pizza Oven

Did the positioning of the chimney affect the baking process? Well, there are two types of chimney positions, which are the traditional and the center chimney.

Traditional Chimney

Some pizza ovens have traditional chimneys where the chimney is in front and close to the oven opening. The vent running straight helps increase the convection bypassing the hot air and smoke. 

Therefore, it gives more room for cool air to come in and get heated. As a result, the oven will heat and cook fast. Besides, the smoke will no longer affect you or the chef.

Center Chimney

The other common type is the center chimney. The ventilation pipe, or tunnel, is at the front, close to the opening, but then curves back to the center. 

The ventilation tunnel attaches to the vertical chimney. 

Therefore, the center chimney gives the hot air more surface area to heat the thermal mass. That reduces the time taken for the pizza oven to heat up. 

As a result, a chimney with a center chimney will cook faster than a traditional chimney.

How Can You Reduce the Amount of Smoke Released into The Air?

You can reduce the smoke released into the air by getting hardwood or wood with low moisture content. 

Do you have plans on where you will get wood? You can request wood with less than 20% moisture content if you purchase from a supplier. However, you should get dry-aged firewood if you plan to collect your firewood.

Another way of reducing smoke is by using hardwood because it burns fast. The softwoods produce more smoke because they burn slowly.

How Tall Should an Outdoor Pizza Oven Chimney be?

The outdoor pizza oven chimney should be around 120″ from the floor with a 36″ clearance from the ceiling. However, the restrictions are different in many countries and states. 

Which state do you live in? Contact your local authorities, Homeowners Association, and Fire department to learn more about chimney height and restrictions. 

Besides, contacting the fire department will give you some fire-handling tips.

The Last Slice

We have seen how ovens work by using stored heat for cooking the pizza and how the chimney gets rid of the smoke and hot air. 

We also understood the reason why outdoor pizza needs a chimney. We hope you get the proper chimney measurement according to your area’s restrictions. 

Now that you know everything regarding chimneys, it is time to get a pizza oven and start cooking some of the best pizza recipes.

Additional Resources on Pizza Ovens

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