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How do I care for my outdoor pizza oven?

Understanding your wood-fired oven

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to care for your outdoor wood fired pizza oven! Weathering steel, also known by a generic brand name ‘Corten steel’, is a unique material that forms a stable rust-like appearance when exposed to the weather. This rustic look complements any outdoor setting and makes it a popular choice for outdoor pizza ovens. In this post, we'll discuss the properties of weathering steel, the initial rusting process, and provide tips on cleaning and maintaining your pizza oven to ensure it remains a stunning and functional addition to your outdoor space for years to come.

A wood fired pizza oven is a fantastic addition to any backyard or patio, providing a delightful way to cook delicious pizzas and other dishes while enjoying the company of friends and family. The weathering steel construction not only adds a rustic charm to your outdoor space but also offers durability and low maintenance requirements.

However, although it is a low maintenance oven, there are some things that we can do to help to prolong it’s life.

Outdoor Pizza oven heating up - almost ready for pizza

What is weathering steel?

Weathering steel is a group of steel alloys that develop a protective layer of rust when exposed to the elements. This layer helps protect the underlying steel from further corrosion, reducing the need for painting and maintenance. However, it's important to note that the protective layer is porous and will not prevent oxygen and chloride from reaching the steel.

The protective rust layer, also known as patina, is formed through a process called weathering. When exposed to the elements, such as rain, snow, and humidity, the steel reacts with the oxygen and moisture in the air, creating a stable layer of rust that adheres to the surface. This rust layer acts as a barrier, preventing further corrosion and providing a unique, rustic appearance.

In the following sections, we'll delve deeper into the care and maintenance of your weathering steel outdoor wood fired pizza oven. We'll discuss the initial rusting process, cleaning and maintenance tips, protecting the interior of the oven, and regular inspections to ensure your pizza oven remains in top condition.

Doppio Living wood fired pizza oven with a fire going inside

Protecting and Cleaning

The Initial Rusting Process

When you first receive your outdoor wood fired pizza oven, it will not have developed its protective rust layer. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years, depending on the local climate and weather conditions. During this time, you may notice the steel changing color and developing a rust-like appearance. This is a normal part of the weathering process and should not be cause for concern.

The initial rusting process is crucial for the formation of the protective patina. As the steel is exposed to the elements, the rust layer will gradually develop and thicken. This process can be accelerated by exposing the oven to moisture, such as rain or a light misting with a garden hose. However, it's important to avoid excessive water exposure, as this can lead to uneven rusting or pooling of water on the surface.

If you are wanting your oven to form the rusty patina quickly, there is a method that uses safe household chemicals that, if you follow the instructions, will have the oven rusted in a matter of hours,

Cleaning and Maintenance

Once the protective layer has formed, your weathering steel pizza oven will require minimal maintenance. To clean the exterior, simply use a soft brush or cloth to remove any loose dirt or debris. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the protective layer. If you need to remove stubborn stains, you can use a mild soap and water solution if necessary (or you could just leave it and let the marks add to the character), but be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry the surface afterward.

Regular cleaning is not at all essential for maintaining the appearance and functionality of your pizza oven. Removing dirt and debris is not a bad thing to do though as dong so will help prevent leaves, dust and dirt that can interfere with the weathering process or cause uneven rusting.

Although it is not essential, regular spraying down with a hose or dusting will help keep your outdoor space looking neat and tidy.

We like to wipe a thin layer of high temperature cooking oil (such as vegetable oils, melted shortening or canola oil) over the whole top of the oven once it is warm. If this is done regularly, it will build up a layer and can act like seasoning in a cast iron pan. This will prevent it from rusting (if done often enough) and will make it safe to put food on or even cook eggs - we don't condone, but it does work ;-)

Protecting the Interior

While the exterior of your outdoor wood fired pizza oven is designed to weather and develop a rustic appearance, it's important to protect the interior from excessive rusting. After each use, allow the oven to cool completely, then brush, scrape or spade out any remaining ash or debris.

We recommend that you take out the grate once in a while to get the ash out that falls through. You can get the ash out by scraping the majority out and then spraying the remainder out with a hose pipe.

Caring for the Cordierite Pizza Stones

Once the stone has cooled, scrape off any food residue with a plastic scraper or spatula, wipe the stone with a damp cloth, and let it air dry. Don't go crazy on the cleaning and DO NOT USE SOAP. The oils and flour etc. all help with seasoning the stone and build up a later that makes it non stick.

If you need to remove the stones for any reason, store them in a cool, dry place, and if you need to stack other items on top of it, use a towel or cloth between them to prevent scratches. Avoid submerging the stone in water, using soap or detergent, putting it in the dishwasher, or using metal utensils, as they can scratch the surface.

A tidy outdoor oven will cook better pizzas - we are almost sure

Look after your oven and your oven will look after you!

In conclusion, caring for your weathering steel outdoor wood fired pizza oven is a simple process that requires minimal effort once the protective rust layer has formed. By understanding the properties of weathering steel, allowing the initial rusting process to occur naturally, and following our cleaning and maintenance tips, you can ensure that your pizza oven remains a beautiful and functional addition to your outdoor space for years to come.

Remember to protect the interior of your outdoor wood fired pizza oven by removing ash and debris after each use. You can also keep the oven roof prepared and safe by applying a thin layer of high-temperature cooking oil over the top while the oven is still hot.

We hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with the knowledge and confidence to care for your weathering steel outdoor wood fired pizza oven. Now, you can enjoy creating delicious wood-fired pizzas and sharing memorable moments with friends and family around your stunning pizza oven!

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