Pizza stones are designed to absorb moisture and heat from your oven, which makes them a great tool for making crispy pizzas. In fact, many pizza aficionados, including me, would argue that pizzas baked on a stone have a unique flavor that steel or aluminum pizza pans cannot replicate. But, sadly, pizza stones have one fatal flaw – they are prone to cracking.
The top reasons why your pizza stone may have cracked include sudden temperature changes, overuse, improper storage, impact, and poor quality. Proper use and storage can help prevent cracks.
In this article, I will shed light on the common reasons for pizza stone shattering and how to avoid them. I will also provide some handy tips for using your pizza stone properly. Keep reading.
Reasons Behind Pizza Stone Cracking
Pizza stones are commonly made of ceramic and cordierite. Both materials are highly heat-resistant, but they can still crack if not handled properly. Here are some of the most common reasons why your pizza stone cracked in the oven:
1. Thermal Shock
More often than not, this is the #1 culprit behind cracked pizza stones. While pizza stones possess a decent heat resistance, they are very susceptible to thermal shock. Thermal shock occurs when a material is subjected to extreme temperature changes, causing it to expand and contract rapidly.
This can cause the material to become stressed and potentially crack or break. In the case of a pizza stone, if it is cold and placed in a hot oven, the sudden increase in temperature can cause the stone to expand rapidly. If the stone is already at or near its maximum expansion temperature, this rapid expansion can cause it to crack.
Similarly, if the stone is heated and then suddenly cooled, such as by placing cold food on it or running cold water over it, it can also crack due to thermal shock.
Next Read: Thick or thin: How the thickness of your pizza steel can impact baking.
To prevent a pizza stone from cracking due to thermal shock, it is important to allow it to gradually reach the desired temperature. This can be done by allowing the stone to come to room temp before preheating. And, of course, always work with room-temperature dough.
Taking these simple precautions will help you avoid sudden temperature changes.
2. Too Much Heat
Pizza stones are rather finicky. While they have an impeccable heat distribution ability, applying too much heat on them can cause them to break apart ceremoniously. Most pizza stones are built to withstand up to 550 F. However, Ooni cordierite pizza stones and Pizzacraft pizza stones made of thermal shock-resistant ThermaBond material can survive 900F+ temperatures.
It’s important to stick to the manufacturer’s instructions on max safe temperature for the stone. Excessive heat can cause the stone to expand beyond its normal range, leading to stress and the potential for cracking.
If your oven is capable of reaching temperatures above 550 degrees, I highly recommend investing in a specialty pizza stone that’s specifically designed for higher temperatures.
3. Removing It From the Oven Too Soon
You should never remove your pizza stone from the oven until it’s completely cooled down. Remember, pizza stones are made of ceramic—not metal—so they take much longer to cool off than a stainless steel baking sheet. If you try to remove your pizza stone too soon, you run the risk of exposing the stone to thermal shock.
So make sure to allow the pizza to cool down completely before removing it. Alternatively, you can leave the stone in the oven. It’s a great trick to stabilize the temperature of the oven, plus it reduces the risk of subjecting the stone to sudden temperature changes.
4. Moisture Into the Stone
There’s a reason why almost every manufacturer and pizza expert advise against washing the pizza stone. Moisture and pizza stone share a rather prickly relationship. Most pizza stones are unglazed, which means there’s no protective layer on them that will prevent moisture from seeping into the microscopic pores of the stone.
This can weaken the structural integrity of the material and cause it to… you’re correct, crack! For the same reason, you should refrain from oiling your pizza stone. If you really have to grease your pizza stone, look for ceramic glazed cordierite stone or porcelain-glazed ceramic pizza stone.
In general, you should keep the stone dry and free from moisture at all times. This includes avoiding washing the stone with water, as well as keeping it covered or stored in a dry location when not in use. If the stone does become wet, allow it to dry completely before storing it away.
To remove the grease and odor from your pizza stone, use a damp kitchen towel. You can also use a pizza stone cleaning brush or spatula even to scrape off the food remnants from the surface.
Pizza stones aren’t really as tough and sturdy as you think. So you should be careful when handling your pizza stone. If you’re going to move it from one place to another, do so with care. Try not to drop it or bump into anything.
You may also want to cover the surface with plastic wrap or a towel if you have other food on your countertop that could get damaged by any accidental drops or bumps.
|Reason for Crack||Solution|
|Sudden temperature changes||Allow the stone to come to room temperature before placing it in the oven, and avoid placing a hot stone in a cold place or vice versa.|
|Overuse||Avoid using the stone at high temperatures repeatedly, and allow it to cool completely before storing it.|
|Improper storage||Store the stone in a dry place, away from damp or humid conditions.|
|Impact||Handle the stone carefully and avoid dropping it or placing heavy objects on it.|
|Poor quality||Consider purchasing a higher-quality stone made with durable materials and good craftsmanship.|
Can You Fix a Cracked Pizza Stone?
Believe it or not, a cracked pizza stone can be salvaged. You need to get your hands on a food-safe adhesive for the job. I did some digging and found this option to be reliable. It’s approved by FDA for use on products that might come in contact with food.
However, if you are going to use this adhesive, do check the temperature range mentioned on the packaging. Silicone Sealant 100% RTV is rated for -70F to +400F. If you are planning on baking at a higher temperature, it’s time to get a new stone.
There’s another easier route that doesn’t involve any glue or tape or anything, just a bit of luck. If your stone is cracked into two or three large pieces during baking, you can just push the pieces together and continue to bake. However, this is not a long-term solution, as the tiny gaps between the pieces will disrupt the heat distribution.
How to Prevent Your Pizza Stone From Cracking
As you might have already guessed by now, pizza stones are not indestructible. However, if you are careful with your pizza stone and follow a few simple rules, it will last you for years to come. Here are some tips on how to prevent your pizza stone from cracking:
NerdChef Steel Stone Highlights
- 20x higher conductivity than ceramic baking stones and twice the heat capacity. This lets it send much more heat energy to your crust so you can get the great performance of a 1000F oven in a home oven at 450F.
- Creates gorgeous crusts, better blistering, and faster cook times. “The ultimate pizza stone” – LifeHacker
- Low-friction surface: textured, sanded smooth, seasoned with flaxseed oil.
- Solid steel, unbreakable, guaranteed for life.
- 16″ x 14.25″ x .375″ – 23lbs (Warning: It’s heavy!) Made in USA.
1. Don’t Overheat the Oven
When baking pizzas on a stone in an oven, don’t set the temperature too high. This can cause your pizza stone to crack or explode due to the rapid build-up of heat within the oven chamber. Most pizza stones can withstand 500-550 degrees F.
If you are planning on baking in a wood-fired oven ( which can get as hot as 900 degrees F or even more), look for a pizza stone made of cordierite stone or ThermaBond material. My Ooni pizza stone is made of cordierite. I have been using it for a little over a year now, and I’m yet to notice any signs of damage.
2. Don’t Place a Cold Stone in an Oven
During winter, if you take your pizza stone out of the cupboard and place it directly into a hot oven, it will crack or break. To avoid this, let your pizza stone warm up at room temperature for about an hour before placing it into the oven.
3. Avoid Placing Cold Food on Hot Stove
Slapping a cold pizza dough on a preheated stone can cause a host of problems. One, it can lead to uneven browning/underbaking/over-spotting on the crust. Two, it can shatter your pizza stone.
The rapid change in temperature will cause thermal shock, which, as we have already discussed before, is not good for pizza stones. So, make sure to bring your pizza dough to room temperature right before stretching or rolling it out.
4. Let the Stone Cool Down in the Oven
Once you are done baking, allow the stone to cool down fully before taking it out of the oven. This is another important step to prevent thermal shock.
5. Keep Moisture at Bay
Refrain from washing your pizza stone, no matter how tempting it might feel at times. Ideally, you should scrape off the dirt with a spatula or pizza stone cleaning brush.
To remove the grease, dampen a kitchen towel with hot water and wipe the surface thoroughly. Lastly, wipe down the stone with a dry towel and leave it out for a few hours before storing it away.
6. Don’t Oil Your Stone
There is no need to oil your pizza stone. The porous surface of the stone naturally absorbs moisture and prevents the dough from sticking, so there is no need for additional oil. In fact, oil can weaken the structure of the stone the same way water does. If your recipe calls for oiling the pizza stone, buy a glazed pizza stone like this one.
7. Handle It With Care
Although pizza stones are not nearly as fragile as glass, it’s wiser to treat them like they are made of glass. Do your best not to drop them or thermally shock them, and they will last for years to come.
Is There Any Pizza Stone That Doesn’t Crack?
The answer to this question is yes. There are pizza stones that don’t crack, but they are not as common. Cordierite pizza stones, commonly used in professional pizzerias, are less susceptible to thermal shock than regular stones. Cordierite ceramic is much thicker than other types of ceramics, hence less reactive to rapid temperature changes.
Next Read: The benefits of using a thick pizza stone for pizza baking.
You will obviously have to shell out more money for a cordierite pizza stone than you would for the average pizza stone. But if you’re looking to buy one, it’s worth the investment.
Pizza Stone Crack-Related FAQs
Why did my pizza stick to the pizza stone?
99.9% of the time, it’s due to a huge temperature difference between the dough and the stone. Try not to put the dough on the stone before it’s fully preheated. This will likely solve the issue. If the problem still persists, it could be due to an underbaked crust or the quality of the stone.
In my experience, a glazed ceramic surface has a much better non-stick ability than standard unglazed pizza stones. So, do consider investing in one if the dough keeps sticking to the stone despite your best efforts.
Can you still use a broken pizza stone?
Yes, as long as the pieces are large enough to fit when you push them together closely.
If your pizza stone cracks during baking or preheating, put on your oven mitts and just push them together firmly and continue the process.
Can pizza stone stay in the oven?
Yes. It’s perfectly alright to leave a stone in the oven most of the time. Doing so can help stabilize the temperature of the oven (this phenomenon is also known as thermal ballast).
Although it may slightly increase the preheating time, it will ensure that your oven doesn’t fluctuate in temperature. This is especially important for baking bread and pastries since they require a steady temperature to rise properly.
Can you put a pizza stone in the dishwasher?
No, don’t ever put your stone in the dishwasher! The harsh chemicals and high heat can damage or even destroy it.
Pizza stones are an excellent kitchen tool. If you use them properly, they will last for years and years. I hope that this article has cleared up some common misconceptions about pizza stones and provided some helpful tips on how to care for them properly. A high-quality pizza stone made of cordierite stone can easily withstand higher temperatures.
So, if you have the budget, I’d advise purchasing a cordierite stone. Also, no matter which stone you use, be mindful of the oven temperature, preheating time, and the temperature of the food you will be cooking on it to avoid thermal shock. Hope this helps. Happy baking!
Tim Anderson is the founder of pizzapeopleaz® and has been in the pizza industry since 1998. Since then, his mission has been to make a pizza lover’s guy into a personal pizzaiolo. And each year, he continues to help more people with Pizza chemistry, pizza Crust, pizza oven, and oven troubleshooting.