Often, fireplaces these days don’t burn real wood. The ones that do usually come with a natural gas starter. This makes for foolproof fire building. We’re often asked about building a similar starter into a wood-burning oven. People are often surprised when we recommend purchasing a simple propane wand.
Dual fuel oven?
Some oven manufacturers sell ovens equipped to burn both propane or wood (like Forno Bravo’s commercial Modena line). These are usually available only for restaurants and other commercial installations. Dual fuel ovens are not considered safe for residential installations.
What would Seinfeld say?
I can almost hear him, “Asking how to add propane to a wood-burning oven is like asking the best way to use a hair dryer in a bathtub. Reconsider!” Although it is possible to run a propane line into your wood-fired oven, you don’t want to do that.
Propane wand jump-starts a fire
We prefer building an oven to burn wood. We love the history, the romance, and the superior flavor. It’s not necessary to compromise the integrity of the oven dome with a propane line. A simple propane wand provides an easy way to light a fire quickly. If you stack a few pieces of wood in a criss cross pattern, a propane wand will quickly ignite them even if you don’t have sufficient kindling to build a top-down fire.
Remove the propane wand as soon as the wood catches.
Propane wand for curing and re-curing
Dave often uses a propane wand in curing ovens. It’s provides steady, low heat. Consistent low heat helps to dry out moisture that may have accumulated inside an oven that hasn’t been used recently. As a rule of thumb, Dave allows the propane wand to burn through a tank of propane to re-cure an oven that has been out of use. After that, it is safe to light a small wood fire to drive out any remaining moisture before heating the oven to capacity.
Propane wand safety
Propane wands and torches are advertised for many uses: burning grass under wire fences, heating roofing asphalt, drying out construction materials, disinfecting poultry cages, killing weeds.
In listing uses for wands, it’s understandable that manufacturers place some distance between outdoor grills, ovens and propane. The wand is a helpful tool, but it must be used wisely. We second that.
Common sense dictates that propane tanks should be stored outside in ventilated storage cabinets or protected areas. Owners of wood-fired ovens who use propane wands should understand and follow the safety rules that come with the tool. Propane and open fire are a dangerous combination.
Red Dragon propane wands
One of our wood-fired oven-curing tools is this torch/wand by Red Dragon: VT 2-23 Vapor Torch Kit, also known as “The Weed Dragon.”