Video: clean & hot: how to light a fire in your oven

How you prep and lay a fire makes a big difference to how things work — or not — in your oven (and other stoves). It’s really pretty simple: dry fuel, small sticks (plenty of surface area), plenty of space for fuel and oxygen to mix — and put your kindling on top, so the fire burns down, clean and hot, like a candle. The video here is a (pretty poor) attempt at sharing some pix of how I do it. It’s too long and wordy — a rough draft. I’ll try and get the next edition done soon! Meanwhile, I’ve been considering what Ianto Evans relates from reading Lewis Mumford: what’s the one characteristic that distinguishes humans from all the other species? No, it’s not our brain, or our music, or any of our wonderful “achievements.” What do we do that none of the other animals do? We use fire. All the others keep their fires inside. Only humans rely on external fire for our survival…

About Kiko Denzer

I live in western Oregon with my family and run Hand Print Press with help from friends Max and Eva. We are interested in restoring the arts of living to their rightful, traditional, public role, as cultural medium – and think the web is a poor substitute, but until we can fashion something better, we try to make the most of it.

7 Responses to Video: clean & hot: how to light a fire in your oven

  1. Pingback: Earth Oven, Phase 7: Patching up, and Pizza « Robin Hill Gardens

  2. Pingback: When is building a fire like cooking a duck? | Camont: Kate Hill's Gascon Kitchen

  3. Pingback: When is building a fire like cooking a duck? | Camont: Kate Hill's Gascon Kitchen

  4. arthuritus says:

    Awesome hat. I want one = ) I also want a firing door, so thanks for this helpful video.

  5. kiko says:

    Hi, Bex, good to hear from you. What you need for pizza is a live flame. Charcoal was traditionally made for burning in a forge with a bellows, or in a kiln. With the kind of strong draft you get in a forge or kiln, it provides much higher temperatures than regular wood fire. It generally burns much cleaner than wood, so it was also traditionally used for indoor cooking and heating fires. Until coal production got big, charcoal fueled the beginnings of the industrial revolution — as such it was, and still is, a major contributor to deforestation, as well as to good management practices like coppicing. The ovens themselves produce some charcoal, but what I do with that now is grind it up and add it to the compost, where it improves fertility and sequesters carbon (for more about that, see this post on Terra Preta and The Biochar Solution: Best winter wishes from chilly Oregon!
    — Kiko

    • Louie Crook says:

      To Kiko: I am new to this type of communication. I don’t know if you will get this message or not. I want to find some books on subjects you may have knowledge about.I live in the south (northeast Louisiana) and ranch and do some limited farming, among other things. This winter it has been unusually cold for us and I had to turn on my greenhouse heater to keep all my vegetables and flowers going. After one month every thing was looking good and then I ran out of propane, that had been in the 500 gallon tank for four years, hardly ever having to use it. I have multiple smaller tanks at the barn and some smaller houses here on the place that go most of the winter months with not much cost. When I had to fill this big tank for over $1300, I decided that my tomatoes were costing me about ten dollars a piece. I ran the heater for another two weeks and then decided to shut it down because of cost. That night it was 24 degrees and all my beautiful plants are dead. That is when I decided to build a wood burning furnace and heat with it. I have been looking thru the internet and I am finding all sorts of things that I know little to nothing about. “mud ovens, rocket stoves, gasification for fuel, etc.” Kiko I have seen some of your videos and very much enjoyed them. I want to buy books and plans to help me learn about these things. We raise Bison, horses, and trees. Right now I have close to a million hardwood seedlings still in the ground that are 10 to 15 feet tall and have no market. I am going to have to destroy them soon. They may make firewood. Please let me know if you have any help or advice. God bless, Louie Crook

  6. Bex Syrett says:

    Hi Kiko
    good to see your video on building up a fire in the oven.
    I am wondering if you have ever used charcoal to keep a fire going when making pizza. I have been given some locally made charcoal and thought it may be worth having a go. Have you any thoughts on this?
    best wishes

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