Top down vs bottom up

I have always fired my oven in what seems to be the traditional way with a bottom up fire. I see some people using the top down method. Are there benefits or drawbacks to either method?

Hi Demond,

I’ve always built my fires the same as you, on the theory that (1) heat rises and (2) having a base of live coals would help overall.

But searching for “top down fire” yields some interesting search results. The key benefit seems to be less smoke and less need to tend the fire in its early stages.

I also noticed, though, that some folks were throwing 2 and 3 firestarter nuggets in with their initial fire. I’ve always had good results from just one.

My suggestion would be to give it a try, and I will do the same the next time I’m cooking. This link seems to be relatively free of hype about the technique:

Good luck and let us know how it goes! I’ll report as soon as New England conditions improve…

Thanks. I did try it and there was certainly less smoke at the beginning stages. I actually use the branches from a wild berry bush as kindling and it started without a hitch. My largest logs on the bottom didn’t burn well but I will prop them up a touch to get airflow next time. I also noticed it seemed like the dome cleared a bit sooner. I didn’t do a full firing like I would if I was cooking pizza, but it seemed to work well enough. I‘lol do more research as well and report back.

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I tried the top down fire again tonight. There was significantly less smoke. I mean markedly less. I feel like the oven took a longer time to heat up and the fire burned more slowly. Aside from that, Anecdotally, the flor was a little cooler too and took a longer time to get to cooking temps. It worked fine though.

Those results make sense to me. It would take a long while before the floor was exposed to the radiant (infrared) heating from the coals. Either method warms the arch quickly.

The top down method seems to be especially useful for wood burning stoves and fireplaces, where you aren’t needing the floor to get hot in the early stages. Smoke would be more of a functional consideration with a stove pipe and chimney, where you’re trying to keep down creosote deposits from fires that are smoky and too cold to burn wood completely in their early stages.

Conditions here have been wet and warm, but not ready to try just yet. I think