The clay oven cooking technique involves little more than the slow release of heat (from fire-burned rocks, or sometimes charcoal) into a sealed enclosure to cook food. Foods prepared by this method cook slowly and evenly, and as a result, natural flavors and juices from the food are sealed rather than being expelled. Also, since no combustion occurs during the actual cooking process, there is no danger of the food being burned.

Have you ever thought about what you would do if electricity and natural gas were suddenly unavailable? Of course, you would have to learn new ways of doing the usual tasks in your home (cooking, washing, etc.) and, in all probability, the “new ways” that you would have to adopt, would actually be old and primitive techniques that have served to humanity for thousands of years.

For example, a “primitive” cooking procedure that requires only a few handfuls of wood to cook an entire meal is made with a clay oven, which natives of peoples around the world have been using successfully for more than 10,000 years. .

Build a clay oven to make bread and pizza

The following is an example of how to build your own outdoor clay or earth oven. They are simple steps that are easy to do as a family or group of friends to live together while building. It is an extraordinary experience and an element that will distinguish your space, giving it a very necessary sustainable factor in our days.

Foundation construction for the earth furnace

With nothing but a little clay, sand, brick, straw, a few reuse glass bottles, and old cinder blocks, it’s all you need to make your own kiln. You can start building your furnace foundation from used concrete blocks and a few pieces of stone. (A home 40 “off the ground is a good average height to work with).

The hearth in a clay oven

An insulating layer of beer bottles in a straw / clay mortar was mounted on top of the foundation in a clay ring and below the firebrick chimney. The hearth, a simple arrangement of 17 reused fire bricks, would serve as the bottom of the clay oven, where the breads and pizzas would be baked directly. The bricks were carefully placed on a fine bed of sand, so that they can be tapped gently to make them firm and level.

(It is filled with glass bottles, and then with straw / clay mortar)
(It is filled with glass bottles, and then with straw / clay mortar)


Clay oven sizing

This model is 22.5 ”in diameter. You can fit three medium loaves of bread, or one or two small personal size pizzas in it at the same time. And in this small size, the entire dough can be heated to about 700 degrees in two hours of solid cooking with good wood.

Realization of the brick arch and earth vault

Before building the royal dome, make an arched door from re-used red brick, glued with sand / clay mortar. (The entrance is a little narrow at 12 inches wide and you can work with that very well. You cannot make very large pizzas, however, with this measurement. a 3: 1 ratio) was carefully built around damp sand covered with wet newspaper and up against the brick arch. The sand was scooped out the door after the dome had dried a bit.

(Tracing the brick arch to make a cardboard shape, setting the bricks in the cardboard mold) .
(Tracing the brick arch to make a cardboard shape, setting the bricks in the cardboard mold) .
(Finishing touches on the clay / sand mortar between the bricks, then make a wet sand mold)
(Finishing touches on the clay / sand mortar between the bricks, then make a wet sand mold)
(Four inches of clay and straw mix around the sand dome, then extract the sand from the dome [interior view])
(Four inches of clay and straw mix around the sand dome, then extract the sand from the dome [interior view])

Door Note: Door is 63% of dome height, or 10 ”high. The dome is 16 ”high ). This measure is the most important, since it allows the oven to breathe. The door is left open while the oven is heating up so that fresh air is drawn in and hot air and smoke can pass through the upper half of the door. (Larger ovens usually have a chimney, or you can make a simple firing door to help with ventilation as well.)

Ground furnace dome insulation

Several inches ( between 2 “-4”) thick of the insulation layer, (a mixture of straw and clay) is passed through the entire dome. This layer helps keep you warm longer, allowing for more heat and more baking. However, clay ovens exclusively for pizza do not require such a layer thickness. For more serious bread making, they can double the insulation thickness, as this allows more loaves to be baked.

(2-4 inches of straw / clay insulation is built over the wet sand dome mold, and the following is the almost finished product with a soft overflow with soil.)
(2-4 inches of straw / clay insulation is built over the wet sand dome mold, and the following is the almost finished product with a soft overflow with soil.)

Cooking pizza in your new clay oven

There is nothing like cooking in a clay oven like this one . Filling the oven with wood and watching the fire ignite is an incredible experience. When the ventilation is just right, you can hear a thud from the firewood inside the dome, which is quite powerful.

In addition to being great for cooking tasty foods, the oven is a great example of a simple technology that is not dependent on fossil fuels for construction or use. You only need simple natural and recycled materials for your construction and the wood for baking.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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