An Ooni Karu Pizza Oven next to some Love Logs hardwood kindling

How to Light Your Ooni Karu 12 Using Wood Only

I've had the amazing Ooni Karu 12 for 3 years now and through that time I've learned the best practice for lighting the oven and bringing it up to temperature.

I used to fall into the marketing hype in the small pizza oven world, that getting the oven to temperature as quickly as possible is the right idea, but now I have more experience with wood fired ovens I've realised that even with an Ooni, there are benefits from taking a little longer and saturating the oven with heat . The main benefit is a faster recovery time between pizzas, which allows you to bake more pizzas in a shorter timeframe.

I bring the oven up to temperature for longer than the advertised 15 minutes, usually heating up over 20-25 minutes to ensure full saturation of the oven. Our kiln-dried oak kindling creates beautiful embers as it burns, ensuring a base heat remains even if I lose my focus and forget to top up the fuel on time.

The Video Guide - How to Light Your Ooni Karu 12 Using Wood Only

What you need to light your Ooni Karu 12

  • Hardwood kindling
  • Two firelighters
  • Extra long matches
  • Digital thermometer
  • Heat proof gloves

1. Get your Ooni Karu 12 ready to light

It's critical that the door is closed, the flue cap is off and the flue vent is open before you start.

2. Start building the fire

Put 4 - 5 pieces of hardwood kindling in a log cabin formation, then add the natural firelighters

Air flow is important so don't overload the fuel tray!

3. Get it lit

Use an extra long match to light each of the firelighters and put the fuel tray door back on

4. Stoke it up

Check on the fire every 3 - 5 minutes, and if there's space in the fuel tray, add more kindling to keep the fire stoked and burning aggressively - smouldering wood won't get you to temperature.

5. Check the flame

After around 20 minutes and several refuels, open the front door to check you have a rolling flame at the back.

Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the stone. You need it to be in the range of 400-450°C to cook Neapolitan pizza

Wind can affect the way the Ooni Karu runs, so if it's not ready, close the door and add more kindling, checking again in a few minutes.  A small electric fan can help with airflow into the fuel tray if there's no wind at all

6. Launch your pizza!

Once you're at your desired temperature, you're ready to go - so add a piece or two of hardwood kindling to make sure you come back to a rolling flame once you've opened your dough and built your pizza. 


What wood should I use in my Ooni Karu pizza oven?

You should only ever use hardwood kindling in your Ooni Karu. Softwood may be cheaper but it will burn through quickly, struggle to get your oven to temperature and leave behind a lot of excess ash, 

Make sure the wood you use in you pizza oven is dried to well below 15% moisture so it burns hot with minimal smoke.

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