So you are sold on the use of pizza stones to make great pizza crust at home in your own oven, or BBQ grill. How do you decide which type is right for you? While the original pizza stone was simply that, a flat rock, today there are lots of different materials that are commonly called pizza or baking stones. Here we take a look at some of the more popular ones, including the pros and cons of each. There are a variety of sub categories for each of these, for example under ceramic you might have glazed and un-glazed ceramic. This page is only the starting point to help you get started. Each of these pizza stones are probably great in some application, so you have to decide how you plan on using it and pick the type that is best for you.
- Ceramic – Ceramic comes from the Greek word for pottery and pottery was typically done with clay. Ceramics have been used for everything from human teeth to watch cases. Different types of additives could be added to manipulate the physical characteristics. For example some additives might make a baking stone less brittle and better able to withstand an impact. Another additive might make it easier to clean. Today’s industrial ceramics are often made of materials like zirconia, silicon carbide, alumina, quarty, mullite, corundum and steatite. For pizza stones, the ceramic is often covered with a variety of coatings that make the stone more durable, less sticky and even to improve energy consumption through better heat disbursement. One big advantage of ceramics pizza stones is that they can easily be manufactured in lots of sizes to accommodate the needs of any cook. One word of warning is that some ceramic pizza stones are made fairly thick. The thicker the stone, the longer it takes to properly preheat, perhaps as much as 40 minutes for the thickest stones!
- Steel – Wait, steel isn’t even a stone. You are right, but recently we have seen several new types of steel pizza stones come on the market. You may also see aluminum and copper pizza stones. Besides the material, one of the first things you will notice about a steel pizza stone is the weight. At up to 1/4″ thick, these stones can get pretty heavy when compared to the lighter ceramics. If you are going to be using the stone all day, that might get to be an issue. If you try to buy Green, some of the steel pizza stones are made from recycled steel. So you may be cooking your dinner on that old water heater you threw out last Summer. From a physics stand point the steel pizza stone has higher thermal conductivity, and higher heat capacity by volume. This all means that the steel pizza stone will hold heat better and transfer it across the stone quicker than a similar size traditional stone. The steel pizza stone is easy to cleanup and dishwasher safe, something you wouldn’t dare do with a traditional stone. Some people have commented that without the porous nature of the traditional stone, the steel baking stone simply doesn’t age as well and doesn’t absorb the oils, smoke and flavors as well. Of course it certainly won’t have that well used look if that’s what you are going for.
- Soapstone – Soapstone is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for thousands of years. Soapstone has been used for grave markers, counters and carvings. Its is denser than granite, slate or marble, but that means it is also not very porous. As a pizza stone, like with the steel, a soapstone pizza stone will not absorb the oils and will not have that aged look that some people want. one advantage to this is you can cook food that you might not otherwise, such as fish, because you don’t have to worry about the baking stone absorbing the fish oils. While salmon pizza is good sometimes, it is not always good to have a salmon flavor on everything. The soapstone pizza stones do have good thermal properties, meaning that the heat quickly transfers through the stone and into the dough. It is this process which gives you the airy and bubbly crust texture of traditional pizza stones. Soapstone pizza stones are dishwasher safe and easy to clean.