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Thermal Mass/Conductivity Relationship and Ranking?

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    Thermal Mass/Conductivity Relationship and Ranking?

    Could someone please explain thermal mass and conductivity, their role in baking pizza, and how cordierite, fibrament, and steel compare in those qualities? Please KISS (keep it simple (because I'm) stupid). Thanks!

    #2
    I'll take a whack at it.

    Thermal mass is related to absorbing and storing energy, (heat), and water is the best common thermal mass. (So boil yur pizza.) Conductivity deals with transferring stored heat. BTW - I'm not sure how to say it so "water is hte best common thermal mass" may be incorrect.

    In your question(s) you want to know which material stores the most heat and which transfers that heat to what you are cookin'. I'm not sure about the cordierite or fibrament although I have had several "stones" over the years, but I can tell you that steel works. I love my Baking Steel.

    Here is their take on using steel:

    https://www.bakingsteel.com/our-inspiration

    Comment


    • HouseHomey
      HouseHomey commented
      Editing a comment
      Wow. That was impressive. I’m not sure if any of it is true but I’m impressed. 😃

    #3
    Yup RonB pretty much nailed it.....With regards to baking pizza it has to temp and the ability of the surface, and the surroundings to hold that temp.

    You can think of thermal mass and thermal conductivity as inversely proportional (Fancy way of saying as one goes up the other goes down).

    A Neapolitan pizza oven is made to get to a high temp and hold that temp for a long period of time. The inside is made of refractory, similar to the cordite material you referenced above. This stuff is a pain to get to temp, but once you do it will stay there for a long period of time. This is thermal mass. But thickness plays a role. For example, if you have a pizza stone the 1ft thick (Just for explanation purposes) and made of refractory, it will take forever to get to temperature because as you add energy (heat) the stone is moving that heat to the parts of the stone that are cold....This continues to happen until the stone is one uniform temp and during that time the stone stinks as a cooking surface....but once it is there you are set.

    This means refractory has poor thermal conductivity. This means if i have a rod of material and put a torch to one end of the rod how long can I hold on to the other end of the rod before I burn my hand, If the rod was refractory then the answer is all day due to low thermal conductivity. Steel on the other hand you may only be able to hold for a few minutes because of high thermal conductivity.

    Steel on the other hand has a much higher thermal conductivity. You can get it to temp fast but it wants to lose that temp fast as well, so you have to keep pumping heat into it to maintain temp. So if you have a Corderite pizza stone and a steel pizza stone of the same thickness on a grill and open the grill to put in your pizza, the steel will be at a lower temp than the corderite stone and then the grill/oven needs to heat the steel back up to cook the pizza properly. Plus due to thermal conductivity it gives off the heat unevenly compared to corderite making the pizza cook unevenly.

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    • pjlstrat
      pjlstrat commented
      Editing a comment
      Sorry ran out of space.....Bottom line Corderite is more forgiving as a pizza cooking surface just be patient when getting to temp. Steel can be a good cooking surface as well but make sure it is good and thick to minimize thermal conductivity issues, and also watch the pizza like a hawk on steel, because it gives off heat so fast it will burn your pizza quick.

    #4
    Yeah, I didn't do so well in STEM subjects, so all I can offer is to say, I really like fire. Fire good.

    Comment


    • fkrall
      fkrall commented
      Editing a comment
      Unlike my pizza....

    #5
    Wow--I sit in awe. Thanks to you all. RonB and pjlstrat--NOW I understand what I'm seeing with my Perfect Pizza Stone (cordierite) from Pizzacraft on my Weber 22. As a "sandwich," it takes beyond forever to get to temp (60' at least) but then cooks well. After I posted my question, I found a video that addresses my thermo question pretty well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWVEgoEGnkY. I've saved that and this thread. Thanks again.
    Last edited by fkrall; July 3, 2020, 06:22 AM.

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      #6
      That vid is an excellent presentation. Regardless of material the biggest mistake most people who are trying to up their pizza game make is not understanding/appreciating the pre-heat cycle. They will often only preheat for some short period, say 20 minutes, and wonder why they can't get a nice crisp. Watch/read this and they'll likely have a better understanding.

      As for the steel, I'd confirm the commentary in the vid about residence time of the product being baked. Wanting to go the commercial steel "stone" providers one better, I had a steel fabrication shop cut a 16" disc of steel from 3/8 plate (most commercial products are 1/4" or less) in the hopes I'd get better performance. And I did...…...…….....sorta. If I'm not real careful the bottoms will burn quick. Using a combination of digital air temp measure and an IR gun I had a kamado up to 650 ambient in the dome area, and the steel "stone" was nearing 800. The top wasn't going to get cooked enough before the bottom got ruined at that combination. It did teach that that thick of a steel stone needs a low, thermally radiant ceiling to work with for a well rounded cook.

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        #7
        So what you guys seem to be saying is that fkrall needs to go buy a new pizza oven. MCS!

        Comment

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