In order to determine how much wood it takes to heat a wood pizza oven you should understand how the oven works. Unlike a conventional oven that contains the heat completely, a wood pizza oven has to account for and use the cold air that comes in through the front opening. Once this cold air reaches the hot fire it heats and circulates around the entire oven to cook the pizza and eventually works its way out the chimney. Making this happen takes time...just the right amount of wood and correct wood placement in the wood pizza oven.
A hot oven of approximately 750 degrees F is essential to cooking a pizza in a wood pizza oven. In order to reach the necessary temperature use seasoned or dry hardwood such as oak, almond or apple wood to heat the oven. Don’t use resinous wood such as pine or spruce, as the resin creates a thick, black smoke you don’t want.
Begin building the fire 1 to 1 ½ hours before you plan to cook your pizza. Start with seven to nine pieces of split hardwood that is roughly 18 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. Place the pieces on the center of the wood pizza oven floor in a square pattern, piling two to three pieces on top of each other in the middle. Place a non-toxic fire starter beneath the wood and light it. Once the fire gets going, it is time to move it to one side of the wood pizza oven. Placing it to one side versus the back of the oven allows the cold air to reach the heat faster and circulate evenly around the dome. Add one to two pieces of the split wood every 15 minutes or so as they burn down, over a period of 45 minutes. Keep an eye on the fire at this point, as it will burn up and out towards the opening as it gets hotter. When the dome begins to turn white and the soot begins to carbonize, your fire is just about ready. It’s a good idea to double check the heat with a handheld infrared thermometer.