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Pizza Oven Vent Design

Understanding how a pizza oven vent works and the different design styles will help you manage and use your oven, make an informed decision on which oven to choose, and design and/or build your own pizza oven.

The key characteristic of pizza ovens is how they breath. They breath in cold air through the bottom of the oven opening which feeds combustion of the fire, and breath out hot air and smoke through the top half of the door. The better this respiration process, and the more oxygen the oven provides the fire, the better the fire burns, the more efficient oven works, and the less smoke the oven exhausts.

A properly designed vent promotes a proper oven draw, feeding the fire with oxygen and efficiently expelling hot air and smoke. The more efficient pizza oven design places the vent outside the oven chamber, directly over the oven opening, where it connects to the oven’s chimney, creating a low pressure area the draws, or pulls hot air out of the oven, which in turn draws more cold air and oxygen into the oven to feed the fire.

The vent can be made from a range of refractory materials, most prominently firebrick and refractory castable. Typically an oven’s vent is shaped as an arch with a round or rectangular opening in the top that connects to a steel chimney system that runs directly upward, directs the exhaust and increases the ovens draw. Another design option, seen in Napes-style ovens, is to build a vent over the oven opening use steel or refractory material, and directing it back of the top of the oven dome, before turning to connect to an upward facing chimney is the top, center of the oven enclosure.

Many steel ovens feature a vent placed inside the oven chamber, which we would argue is a weakness of the design of those ovens. Those ovens do not breath as efficiently ovens with an external vent, and the fire is more difficult to manage without having control over the flow of air with the oven door.