The Best Heat Logs for Wood-Fired Ovens

Fire WoodCooking with wood has become the new trend, with more people experimenting with cooking bread, pizza, BBQ meats and fish in their wood-fired ovens. But it's not as simple as buying some wood logs from your local supermarket or online and cooking up a feast. As with any cooking method, when using a wood-burning oven, it's important not to contaminate the food and control your temperatures.
For these reasons, it's vital to ensure you select the best heat log or wood briquette for your wood-burning oven. But what's considered the best? The best heat log for cooking will be a wood fuel that is dry and as close to 100% natural as possible (such as our eco heat logs). And here are the reasons why:

Heat logs with food safety in mind.

Felt Fire Wood Storage Baskets

The wood fuel you are burning with mustn't contain any nasty chemicals or additives that will release into your food when burnt. Not only could this be poisonous, but it can leave a bad smell behind on your food.

Is it safe to cook with wood logs? Yes, if you use a natural wood source with no toxins, such as compressed wood logs. Another apparent reason why eco heat logs or recycled wood briquettes are perfect is to avoid any chance of contaminating your cooked food.

We make eco heat logs from natural wood materials, but what makes them different from standard heat logs is how we produce them. The source of the wood is waste sawdust from when timber is processed.

The timber source is from sustainable forests with no pesticides, so it's incredibly eco friendly and clean. This sawdust we then compress tightly to form a log to avoid the need for any glues or additives to keep the eco log retaining its form.

Storing wood for use when cooking.

Traditional firewood can be manufactured and stored in many ways, which can compromise the safety of the wood fuel. For example, some firewood could have been sitting outside in damp weathering conditions open to the elements.

Other wood fuels tend to come from sources using a chemical treatment to preserve the wood itself. As a result, wood stored for a long time may have attracted cockroaches, and other small insects or mould growth could have developed on its surface. Pesticides and fertilisers could have also contaminated it. Thus, wood-fired food could become contaminated by its fuel source. However, with Pinewood Fuels compressed heat logs, you can be sure that they are dry and free from any contaminants because of the production process.

To keep your eco heat logs in perfect order, we recommend storing them closely near your wood oven or heat source. Why not use our purposeful felt baskets for heat logs storage to keep them protected from the elements, ensuring they remain dry and ready to use for cooking.

Smokeless logs for cooking

Fire Wood For Stove

Now we know that these recycled wood briquettes are safe to use when cooking. What about other waste products such as smoke? Quite a few wood fuel suppliers are advertising "smokeless" logs, but as the saying goes - there is no smoke without fire.

However, "smokeless" logs produce significantly fewer waste products, mainly due to them being drier, more natural wood. If you cook with compressed sawdust heat logs, you will undoubtedly benefit from fewer wood tars, gases, and soot, along with dioxins, volatile organic compounds, and other unknown particles.

This reduction in additives not only makes the food safe to eat, but it means you can choose and increase the smokey flavour based on the make-up of the wood. To get the best out of your wood oven experience, you'll also want a drier log to reduce the smoke content and improve heat output.

Cooking temperature control with heat logs.

In most cases, compressed sawdust heat logs contain less than 10% moisture. Pinewood Fuels recycle log briquettes have a moisture level of less than 8%. This lower moisture content creates benefits of a hotter wood fire with fewer emissions, which is perfect for heat control. It's vital that when cooking with dry heat logs, you know exactly how much heat is you are producing. That's why compressed heat logs are ideal for cooking as they are all made to the same size, shape and composition. Should you need to control the wood oven's temperature, add more logs; you can even break them down with your hand to add a little but often.

Temperature °C What Can You Cook?
90 – 120 Slow-cooked meats, ribs and casseroles
150 – 175 Cakes and desserts
200 – 230 Crusty breads, flat breads and focaccia
260 – 290 Roasting chicken, potatoes and fish
290 – 320 Steaks and shrimp
320 – 350 Roasted Vegetables
370 – 400 Pizza

Cooking in firewood embers

Many recipes call for cooking food over embers instead of an open flame. In the summer, it's easy to wrap up jacket potatoes or parcels of meat and vegetables, put them in the base of the fire, and then cook some beans or grill some burgers over the top. The flames produced by heat logs are generally intense, so let the fire calm down before you start cooking. For more robust, longer-lasting embers, you can also burn fire logs and night briquettes simultaneously.

Eco logs make for a cleaner wood oven.

One of the biggest complaints with traditional firewood is the amount of residue they leave behind. When cooking in a wood-fired oven, the last thing you want is sticky tar, a large amount of ash and smoke residue in your oven and blowing outside the stove. Leaving behind very little in waste products is another area where compressed heat logs excel for cooking. After cooking, you should notice a cleaner wood oven with minimal ash - making using your stove in the future easier to manage.

Steps on the best way to heat a wood-fired oven

You will need the following materials:
  • Firewood - For cooking, you'll want a wood fuel that's as dry as possible and as natural as possible (like our eco heat logs).
  • Kindling / Firelighters - Our preferred firelighter is a natural one. They are entirely odourless and do not compromise the quality of your food.
  • Safety Matches - Longer matches are best to allow you time to create an even burn.
  1. Tap your heat log against another heat log until it cracks and breaks into three pieces of equal size.
  2. Place the three pieces in a triangle in your fire and a natural firestarter in the middle.
  3. Set the firelighter on fire. In the case of a pizza oven or wood-fired oven, ensure that you light the fire in the centre.
  4. After the fire has started, feed the fire more fuel so that it continues to grow.
  5. As soon as the fire reaches its optimum temperature, it would be best to push the embers to the side or back.
  6. For pizza, you will need to ensure you maintain a sizeable continuous flame in the pizza oven, adding fuel as necessary to keep the temperature high.
  7. Light your fire 45 minutes to an hour before you want to eat. Ensure that your wood-fired oven reaches its optimum temperature in plenty of time.
  8. Congratulations, you are now ready to cook in a wood-burning oven.