All About The Cob Oven

A Cob Oven is an oven which cooks from retained heat (fueled by small kindling) and is made from a mixture of local mud, and straw!  The foundation is composed of local, recycled, & salvaged materials

This style of cooking is indigenous to many cultures all over the world and still used by many cultures today.   Being that these ovens are made with clay; they ‘breathe’….creating the most deliciouscrispy outside….moist inside, kind of food you can taste!  From 3 minute pizzas, to Thanksgiving Turkeys…the Earth Oven can cook anything your conventional oven will….just better!!!

Check out Michael Pollan’s New York Times article about his Earth Oven Experience!


The best way to build an Earthen Oven is with Community Involvement!  With the leadership of April Magill (Architect/Natural Builder) folks can come out and learn how to build with earthen materials, build with their neighbors, and learn how they can build their very own Earthen Oven!







“The Earthen Oven just makes cooking fun again!”


 Maintenance & Use

–          The Oven cooks by retained heat.  Small pieces of dry, hard wood works best.  Finding a connection with a local wood shop is a great way to use their waste products for fuel!  

–          Once lit, the fire should be stoked and fed, and little by little pushed to the back of the oven.     

–          Approximately 45 min.- 1 hr.  is needed to get the oven up to proper cooking temperature.

–          From here, the fire can remain burning in the back while pizzas are cooked directly on the brick hearth.  A thin crust pizza will cook in literally 3 minutes!


The oven will remain hot for the next 10+ hours.  The options are endless for what you can cook!  Start with pizzas, then as the temperature slowly drops, throw in a roast, bake a few loaves of bread, then some shrimp….. as it cools even more, try a home made granola, or slow-cook some beans over night!  When done cooking, fill the oven with wood, close the door, and let the wood ‘kiln dry’ for your next firing!

–          The Earthen Oven cooks with all 3 heating methods: convection, conduction, and radiant heat, thus, cooking your food quicker and more thoroughly!  Not to mention the unbeatable taste of food cooked by a wood-fired oven!!!

–          Because the oven is made from a clay mixture, when hot, the oven will expand, and as it cools, it will contract.  You will see some cracking over time, this is normal.  Simply pick a ‘maintenance day’ once a year and patch the cracks with more clay; April can show you how or come and do it for you.

–          Because the oven is made from a clay mixture, it must remain covered with a small roof or covering.  It can stand up to minimal rainfall and spray, but direct rainfall over time would eventually break the oven down.

–          So why not just build it out of concrete???  Well, for several good reasons!  The earthen mix which is used to build the oven ‘breathes.’ Concrete does not.  When cooking in a clay oven, water from the clay is released in the form of steam.  Have you ever baked bread in your conventional oven and created steam with a pan of water? The steam creates a nice, golden, crispy outside…..and a delicious, moist inside….whether we’re cooking breads, roasts, pies, etc.  And you know those pizza stones people use in their conventional ovens? Well guess what, the oven hearth IS a pizza stone!  Also, concrete is expensive and has quite a large ‘carbon footprint’ in the production of it.  Mud is FREE and comes locally right from the ground!!!

–          Root Down Designs is happy to demonstrate and/or train people on how to use the oven.  A detailed instructions page will be provided and left with the oven.

“Once you have pizza from an Earth Oven, you’ll never go back to normal pizza.”


So why would you want an Earthen Oven???


  • Set an example!  Show that you are engaged with the ‘Green’ movement through the building of an Earthen Oven, which is a true example of Natural Building.


  • Engage With the Local Community!  Using the Earthen Oven is truly a Community event.  Watch as people gather around the oven, help with the tasks, and take turns cooking!


  •  Build With the Community!  Allow the local residents to be engaged with the building process.  When people feel a part of the creation of elements in their community, they will, in turn, care for their community.


  • Get On Board! Currently, there are 7 states with Earthen Ovens in public parks.  “Build an oven, and people will come.”  “ We no longer have to plan events, the events plan themselves.”  Ovens bring people together!


  • Charleston LOVES Food!!!  The food events are endless in Charleston.  Use the Earthen Oven to attract chefs and ‘foodies.’  Create new events.  Cook and sell 3 minute, wood-fired pizzas!!!


…..The list goes on!!!  Contact April @ Root Down Designs for more information.