If you don't think curing is necessary

I was somewhat skeptical about the curing time for Mattine Grande oven. Until… I drilled a hole through the fire brick at either end of oven to install a hanging rod. When I drilled with a concrete bit there was no concrete dust, only clay mud!
There hadn’t been any water on the brick for a week yet they were still full of water.

We finished our mattone barile 2 months ago, did all the curing fires, have tried making pizzas twice since then and yet the bricks in the oven floor don’t get hot. Meanwhile, the same type fire bricks that compose the front arch of the oven get quite hot. We figure that there is still moisture in the sand and vermiculite under the floor bricks and sincerely hope that with a few more fires that moisture will evaporate so we can make some decent pizzas. Right now, the pizza tops bake while their bottoms are probably getting steamed from below.

LESSON LEARNED and RECOMMENDATION: The directions should specify that vermiculite retains moisture while perlite does not (which I read later in someone’s post, NOT in the directions). We used a 60 lb bag of insulating castable per the instructions for the base but it wasn’t enough to fill the void. So we filled the rest of the way up (about 1 inch) with the vermiculite mixture (getting more insulating castable would’ve meant ordering it, a 10 days delay, and driving 2 hours to get it). Had we known that perlite doesn’t retain water we would’ve used that instead. We’re quite disappointed that our oven is not performing as it should, despite following the directions to the letter.

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Another possibility is where and how you build your fire. If you build the fire on the spot where you will be baking your pizza, the base of the fire can actually act as an insulator. That’s what I am finding anyway.

I too had similar concerns. However, I now take about 1to 1 and a half hours to build up a good fire and move it around. I make sure I spread embers over the cooking surface befor cooking, further heating the bricks. I would say about 500-700 degrees. After a few pizzas, I spread embers again, then push them back. The next morning, the bricks are still quite warm. We’ve been up and running a few months. Love it.

Did they get back with you on this matter?
I have used the vermiculite and ready to start on the oven but now I am having doubts on whether or not I should tear out what I have and pour with perilite?

While the insulation principals behind Vermiculite and Perlite are identical when used in the insulation layer of your pizza oven base… Vermiculite retains water - while Perlite does not.

If your Vermiculite insulation layer is still a bit squishy or spongey when pressing down - make sure it gets a few full days in direct sun - and is LOOSELY covered at night to prevent moisture from absorbing back into the Vermiculite (but loose enough so it can breathe).

Don’t rip out anything - just let it cure a bit longer…


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Yeah, I wouldn’t tear out what you’ve already done.