Can you Burn Coal in a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven?

Last Updated on May 24th, 2023

We may earn commissions for purchases made through links on our site. Learn more on our about us page.

When it comes to outdoor oven setups that use burning wood as a primary source of heat, it is not uncommon to see a chef use charcoal or other flavored flammables to flavor the foods being cooked. In short, yes, many use this technique to cook.

Using coal as the primary source of heat will not be an encouraged practice, as the two items burn differently, and specific smoke residues could affect the oven’s performance.

Instead, only use charcoal as a flame supplement and introduce certain smoked flavors to the meal being prepared.

Pizza bring put inside an oven for cooking - Can you Burn Coal in a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven?

What Kind of Coal Do You Use for a Pizza oven?

The issue with using coal is that the oven will not get as hot as when wood is being used to heat the appliance.

Therefore, the best practice is to use charcoal as part of the fuel for the oven; in addition to the wood, the lower temperature burn will add just a hint more heat to cook with.

There will be many different charcoal types; the best two for pizza ovens will be the traditional briquette and lump charcoal, which provides long-lasting, consistent heat during the cooking process.


How Much of it Can You Use?

Think about it like this. Charcoal is a supplementary source of heat, added for flavor and precision heating purposes.

There are going to be specific reasons to increase and decrease the amount of charcoal to control heat, primarily, but also specialized briquettes have been infused with smoke-activated seasoning, if you will.

There is no limit to the amount of charcoal you can use, but remember that it is better to use the briquettes and lumps sparingly.

Some chefs out there will use both for their heating source, primarily wood but also always with charcoal, meaning you can use the charcoal as often as you like.


How Should You Use Coal in it?

The general theory and usage, as mentioned earlier in the article, is to primarily use wood to heat the oven and keep it going as a primary heating source.

Then, charcoal is added to supplement the wood, increase the temperature when needed, and provide steady, consistent heat.

There are also going to be certain smoke-infused charcoals that will have specialized flavors that a cook can utilize when cooking with them. However, to reiterate, the primary usage for coal will be to help maintain and change heat levels for cooking reasons.


Is there a Chance you Might Damage the Oven?

The most significant risk of using coal as part of the healing process is breaking down the materials in the oven.

As with any substance exposed to a certain degree of heat, adding additional heat to a specifically designed system could un-stabilize the delicate instruments and any structural damage.

The safest policy is to know the limitations of the oven you are working with, know whether or not a few additional tens of degrees will make an impact on the structural integrity, and cook accordingly.

If you can design your own, be sure to add the ability to utilize the additional heat that coal provides.


Common Mistakes you need to Avoid

One of the most common mistakes when cooking with a wood-fed fire is to lose focus on the temperature of the oven; as wood burns down, the temperature will also leave some things undercooked.

There are also going to be times when the heat is too much and can burn the food being cooked, and the trick is to learn the ebbs and flows of the oven you are cooking with and to add fuel accordingly.

Another mistake, as mentioned before, will be to use only charcoal as the heating source, which will need to produce more heat to cook with. And remember to have the proper equipment and gear to cook with, including a peel for putting in and taking out pizzas.


Final Thoughts on Can you Burn Coal in a Wood-Fired Pizza Oven

The last thoughts about a wood-fired oven are the convenience for folks with properties that have surplus lumber to feed the fire with which to cook.

This is also an excellent way to get outside, cook without electricity or gas, similar to hanging out around a campfire or bonfire, and create a memory or two with the people closest.

To those looking to craft one of these, remember to have the height just right and have solid insulation to preserve the heat inside, but also be sure to make enough room for a good fire to cook with.