When I first got my Round Grove oven this was a big concern for me. I wanted to make sure I selected the right wood to get the taste, heat, and clean burn I wanted to maintain my oven and be able to cook in it.
I had no idea where to start, or where to even find the wood, so I did my research.
When it comes to brick oven, or wood fired cooking, choosing the right wood is almost as important as selecting the right oven. I chose a Round Grove oven, which I shared in my last post, and now I will share which woods I burn in the oven, and why.
Type of Wood
When selecting wood to burn in your Round Grove oven look for the following factors:
- Well seasoned wood: You want to select wood that has been split and left to dry/season for around 12 months so the moisture content is around 10%, and it becomes very hard and dry. It will light more quickly, burn hotter, and more efficiently in your oven.
- Wood split into 2-3 inch pieces: this is going to give you a nice hot burn, and
- Hard Woods: They are cleaner and last longer. Which means you get a better burn, and your brick oven will stay cleaner too. The best hardwoods are: Oak, Almond, Olive, Beech, Maple, Ash, Birch, Mesquite, Hickory, Apple, Citrus.
What Else You Need To Buy
Buying hard woods is the start, considerations when selecting the cords of wood include size. Wood should be 2-3 inches square, 18-24 inches long. And what temp you want to maintain? Larger pieces burn hotter and longer. So if you plan to cook at really hot temperatures, larger pieces are needed. For the 400-800 degrees F range, this 2-3 inch square wood size is perfect.
Basically, if you want a more moderate temperature, feed fire with smaller pieces of wood. I opted to purchase mostly the 2-3 inch size, but asked for 1/4 a cord of a larger size to be able to get to higher temps.
Additionally you will want to purchase or have:
- Kindling: When I bought my cords of wood I asked about buying kindling at the same time. The firewood supplier was able to sell me big bags of kindling for around $10 a bag. They were mixed woods, but all hardwood, which is what I wanted for a clean burn. Ask your supplier, or chop some of the wood you buy down into smaller pieces for starting your fire in your oven.
- Starters: newspaper, dried herbs, dried vines are all great starters for helping the fire light quickly and get those hard wood logs going. I personally love using a Fire Starter Brick to speed the process up.
Does Wood Impart Flavor?
Yes, the wood you use can produce flavor smoke, that imparts some flavor to the food you are cooking. However, I have not noticed a big difference.
If you are cooking something that will absorb the flavors, you may want to play with the woods and find one you like. For example, I like cooking chicken with mesquite or cherry wood.
Personally, I worry less about the flavor it might absorb, and more about selecting a wood that burns clean and long for an efficient burn.
Woods to NEVER Use:
- Resinous woods: Cedar, Fir, Pine, Spruce
- Soft woods: Cottonwood, Poplar, Willow
- Wood that has been painted, stained or otherwise treated
- Wood from construction sites or furniture factories
- Scrap wood pallets
- Moldy or fungus covered wood (even if it is natural)
- Pine, Redwood, Cedar: too soft, and have a lot of residue, and create a thick smoke.
- Laminated woods, pressure treated and painted woods, or any wood that has chemicals are never to be used in a wood fired oven.
These will ruin your Round Grove oven, and you do not want that!
How much wood do you need?
5 -10 small pieces of wood to get your fire going and your oven up to temperature.
The typical length of wood used for cooking in a pizza oven is 14-18 inches. It’s usually easier to start your fire with smaller pieces of wood before adding larger pieces.
Feed your oven a few pieces an hour to keep temperature up.
How to Find Firewood Near You
Now that you know what kind of firewood you need, and what to avoid, how do you actually get it? It wasn’t like I could go to Target to get wood. Ya know? So here is what I found useful:
- Google “Firewood supplier near me” and look specifically for wood for smoking and cooking.
- Check instagram: I actually found the firewood supplier I used by checking geotags and hashtags on instagram for my area.
- Check local classifieds.
- Order through online supplier: Note that this is more costly.
How Much Do Firewood Should You Buy?
Firewood is sold by the cord or 1/2 cord.
A 1/2 cord of firewood is an amount of wood that fills a space equal to 4 feet long, 4 feet high, and 4 feet deep.
How much do I need?
If you are buying firewood to use in your wood fired oven, you will want to ask yourself how much you will be cooking in it? A cord might be a little overkill if you just want regular Friday night pizza nights. But if you intend to cook in it a few times a week, that may be a great amount. I suggest starting with a 1/2 cord, and go from there.