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Wood-fired ovens, also known as wood ovens, are ovens that use wood fuel for cooking. There are two types of wood-fired ovens: "black ovens" and "white ovens". Black ovens are heated by burning wood in a chamber and the food is cooked in that same chamber alongside the fire while it is still going, or in the heated chamber after the fire and coals have been swept out. White ovens are heated by heat transfer from a separate combustion chamber and flue-gas path, and thus the oven remains "white", or clean from ash. While the traditional wood-fired oven is a masonry oven,-ref. Patent D642,855- such ovens can also be built out of adobe, cob, or even cast iron.
Wood-fired ovens are distinct from wood cookstoves which have a hot cooking surface for pots and pans, like on a gas or electric stove. A wood cookstove may also have an oven but it is separate from the fire chamber. Regardless of material they all have an oven chamber consisting of a floor (or hearth), a dome, and an entry (oven opening).
Unlike modern household gas or electric ovens which provide a nearly constant cooking temperature, a black oven is typically heated only once during the firing stage (the combustion of wood inside the oven chamber). After the coals are raked out, the oven gradually cools over a period of hours or even days (in the case of a well-insulated oven). Immediately after a firing, the oven temperature may easily exceed 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The mass of the oven acts as a 'thermal battery', which slowly releases heat over time. The retained heat in the oven may be used to cook multiple batches of bread, or alternatively, foods requiring different temperatures can be cooked in succession as the temperature of the oven slowly drops. This practice maximizes the efficiency of the oven, by fully utilizing the thermal energy stored during the firing process. Patent D642,855 shows a modern modular piece cast form of the traditionally, brick by brick, constructed wood fired oven.