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Infrared Thermometer

Get one.

Infrared thermometers have become incredibly inexpensive, they’re fun to use and they’ll tell you a lot about your oven and how it works. Harbor Freight has an infrared thermometer that reads up to 1022ºF for $24, and is sometimes on sale for $14.

There are a couple of things that are worth knowing about the internal temperature of a pizza oven, as read by an infrared thermometer. You should be away that the thermometer is taking a surface reading of the spot in infrared beam is aimed at. That tells you a couple of things.

First, the reading is only for that spot. Pizza ovens are famous for having hot spot and cool spots that move all over the oven dome and floor. Check a bunch of different spots to get a general idea for how hot your oven really is—in general.

Second, use readings from the dome and the floor, near and far from the fire. This will give you an idea of whether your oven dome and floor are in balance, and if you’re going to quickly burn the bottom of your pizzas. Definitely if you’re going to burn the bottom of your first pizza.

And third, know that you are testing the surface temperature of you oven dome and oven floor. That does not mean that the high temperature you are seeing has been to be absorbed into the materials used to make your oven dome and floor. It’s very possible, even likely, that while the inner face of your oven has quickly reached 900ºF, the inner thermal mass of the oven are much cooler, and that they will be wicking heat away from the inner face of the oven.

That’s what pizza ovens do. Nature abhors a thermal mass being out of equilibrium. If the inner face of your oven is hot (because you’re firing the heck out of it) and the outer face is cool (because it hasn’t had time to fully charge with heat), that mass wants everything to just be warm.

Enjoy your infrared thermometer, knowing that they were really expensive not that long ago. And if you want to bake a number of pizzas in a row, take the time to full heat your oven.