Curing Your Oven

Instructions for Curing Your Pizza Oven

Follow these instructions to cure your Californo wood burning pizza oven. Curing your oven is critical to your pizza oven’s performance. Failure to follow these instructions can result in damage up to and including cracking the dome, severely impacting heat retention.

NOTE:  For ovens with Gas burner, there are shortcuts to the curing process you can find in the Installation Manual.  A Californo technician can be made available through our contact form to help walk you through some tricks to make this easier.

1. Why is proper curing so important?  

Like with any concrete items there is always excess water that is evaporating overtime from product to the outside air. in a conventional concrete products its can take up to 360 days to get the very inside of the concrete 100 cure. curing your oven components will get it to the maximum strength when done properly.  However, fast curing will cause the all amount of water to escape simultaneously and may result in cracking the dome.

Also, after you've complete your oven installation, there is still a great deal of moisture in the mortars, hearth concrete, vermiculite, and the oven chamber and manifold. Each of these oven components was produced in our facility and got dry by air only. Simply letting the oven stand for a week or month will not cure the moisture out of the oven.

2. Can I cure the oven dome without installing the insulation and decorative facade?

Technically you can, but it is not recommended for a few reasons:

  • Without insulation, it can present a fire and safety hazard;
  • After curing, your oven will reach higher temperatures than before it was cured. It will reach 1000 deg F, that mean if you cure your oven atfirst and later do your stucco, there will be water that try to escape the stucco which will crack it.

 

3. When can I start my curing process?

Before you start the curing process, let the complete oven sit for 5 days. Regardless if it was raining or not during that time rain will help strengthening your oven.

If you purchased a fully assembled pizza oven from Californo, you may start the curing process of your oven without waiting the 5 days, as naturally 5 days has passed from the day we completed the assembly until you received the oven so that mean you may start the curing of your assembled oven the day you received it.

 

4. How do we cure the oven?

Important Note:

It is critical for proper curing and avoiding damage that you do not go above these temperatures shown below during the first two days.

It is important that you cure your pizza oven slowly over a 5 day period. You build a series of five increasingly larger fires, starting with a low temperature (see below). The first-day fire is no more than kindling and thin strips of wood.

 

1st Day:

300º F for 5 hours minimum.

Start and maintain the fire in the center of the dome, not on the perimeter of the oven. You don’t want the fire to get too high and touch the dome.

You should leave the door partly open allowing about 2" gap once the fire is lit that will help direct the smoke up the vent as temperature is relatively low and smoke is than heavier.

You should look at the analog temperature gauge if you purchased and installed one. The temperature gauge reads the oven’s air temperature. For a more accurate temperature reading of the oven refractory surfaces, which can be use for many types of cooking, you can use the optional Digital Infrared Thermometer, which can be purchased in the Californo Store.

You want to measure the temperature at the dome of the oven, not the side wall or floor.  This will be the hottest point of the oven.  The temperature can vary slightly, but try not to exceed the temperature for that day’s cure schedule by more than a few degrees, better to be 20 degrees cooler than hotter.  Especially on day one and two.

Close the oven door every evening to preserve dryness and heat.

2nd Day: Repeat process at 350º F (177 Celsius)

3rd Day: Repeat process at 400º F (204 Celsius)

4th Day: Repeat process at 450º F (232 Celsius)

5th Day: Repeat process at 500º F (260 Celsius)

Important Notes:

  • Use solid wood fuels only.
    • DO NOT use charcoal, pressure treated lumber, chipped wood products, sappy wood such as pine, laminated wood or any material other than dry medium or hard firewood.
    • DO NOT USE liquid fuel (firelighter fluid, gasoline, lantern oil, kerosene or similar liquids) to start or maintain a fire.
    • You can start the fire with an acetylene torch if you have one handy.
    • Food grade fire starters are considered acceptable aids when starting a fire.
  • Do not use products not specified for use with this oven.
  • Never use water to lower the temperature inside the oven, or to extinguish the fire. This will increase wear and tear on your oven and can lead to spalling, pitting and cracking your cooking surface.
  • There must be a period of time between completing the masonry work and beginning the actual firing cure.
    • Longer is better than shorter, particularly for the actual dome cement.
    • The cement and mortar must cure first and this process is actually improved by keeping the cement moist and not letting it dry out. (when installing the dome components, it is a good practice to cover the dome by plastic sheet to avoid the fast escape of humidity in hot climates until you apply the insulation blankets))
    • Space heaters should not be used to cure an oven.  It will produce a high amount of steam in the oven and can become a safety hazard so it is not recommended.
  • It is normal to see some Black smoke at first usages coming out of the oven, that is Pam Olive Oil Spray which is used in the de-molding process. The smoke will be a little heavy for the first 2 days and will dissipate through the rest of the curing process.

Congratulations. Your oven is now complete and ready for Cooking, Buon Appetito.

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