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Why does my pizza stone stink?

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I received a pizza stone from Crate & Barrel as a wedding gift and have tried several times to make pizza on it. It's sold as a "grilling" pizza stone, but I figured it should work in the oven too. (It was the only stone they carried.) I followed the directions to season it before use by brushing with vegetable oil and then baking in the oven at 350.

I always heat the oven first with the stone in it, before putting the pizza on, and every time it fills the house with a noxious chemical odor. There is also smoke, but that could be due to using my not-so-clean oven at such high temps. My husband has begged me to give up on the stone, the smell is too bad, but I keep hoping it will go away. After 3 or 4 uses, though, the fumes are still bad. Has anyone had this experience? Any ideas?

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  1. Maybe put it in the oven and run a good long self-clean cycle? Should burn off anything that's even vaguely volatile.

    1. I have never heard of a grilling stone, and I would NEVER EVER recommend that someone put put oil on a stone to season it. The stones are non-stick by design, so they only need to be heated to 400°F or higher for 20 minutes before baking on them.

      I'm unfamiliar with C&B stones , but I think that you might have damaged the stone when you coated it with oil. I would use the smooth side up when baking in your oven.

      added, http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family....

      4 Replies
      1. re: Kelli2006

        Yep, that's the stone I have. I wonder if the brushing with oil did something, that's a good question - but it was in the instruction booklet!

        1. re: dubedo

          The oil should burn off with time, but it will smoke and stink until it does.

        2. re: Kelli2006

          I never brushed my with oil. Sorry Wamart with a paddle (whatever they call them, I just call them paddles, pardon my ignorence), I used the pizza stone all the time, never conditioned it and it has been great for 5 years. I love it. I saw them last week for 15.99. Saw the same thing at some high end kitchen store downtown by our farmers market for 69.99. Mine has been wonderful. I think the oil did it. Never conditioned mine. Just made pizza, also do rolls and bread on mine. Love it.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            Kelli is 100% right. It seems that some manufacturers of baking stones think that if seasoning is good for cast iron, it must be good for baking stones. I can only conclude that they do not use their own product. Or perhaps they want to fry bacon and eggs on a baking stone.

            I'll go Kellli one better and say it's just plain stupid. Baking on a stone allows steam from the bottom of the loaf or pizza to escape through the stone. The result is a crisper bottom than what you'll get with a baking sheet. If you season (i.e. create an impermeable layer on the surface) the stone, you work against that.

            Fortunately, if you rub oil on a stone and bake it at 450-500 degrees you will just turn the oil to carbon and it probably won't effect the stone's performance. But why waste your time and fill your kitchen up with smoke? Ok, I really don't want to offend anyone who has seasoned a baking stone, so let me restate: seasoning a baking stone is a total waste of time, oil, and energy.

          2. I have pizza stones that I use quite often, but the only time I get a smell is when something I am baking falls off the stone. that being said to affirm the prior writer, I was never instructed to "season" my stones. I cannot imagine why it would be necessary.
            Dont give up! they are great, I would take them back to crate and barrel and tell them about the problem,,,maybe you can get another one...try it withou the seasoning routine.

            1. My guess is that the oil is for *grilling*, not for baking. I still can't see why you'd want oil on a stone, but as everyone's saying, that is likely to be the culprit in the oven. (Perhaps on the grill, they assume (a.) it'll burn off not in an enclosed space and (b.) it's smokey anyways?)

              1. Like everyone said, the oil is likely the culprit. There's no need to "season" it. To get rid of the oil that's on there, unfortunately the only thing to do is burn it off. Can't wash the stone as the water will get in the pores of the stone and cause it to crack next time it's heated.

                1 Reply
                1. re: aravenel

                  Actually I wash mine with water when it needs it, it's perfectly safe as long as you let the stone dry completely before using it again. Putting it in the oven for a while at a temperature below the boiling point of water will dry it out without cracking it.

                2. Throw that thing in the garbage. Go to Color Tile or even Home Depot and get some 6"X6" unfinished quary tile. Buy enough to line the oven rack, just butt them together. This way you have the whole rack to bake on and no drips on the oven floor. After you use them and they are cool scrape them off with a dough scraper and a wire brush and your good to go for next time, they are very inexpensive too.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                    My experience with quarry tile has not been good. I resisted buying a pizza stone for a long time, but now that I have one I wouldn't go back.

                    The main problem I had was with tiles cracking. Apparently they're not made to tolerate repeated heating and cooling. One time I had one break into several pieces as I laid a pizza on it. (Too much thermal shock? Anyway...) Some of pieces fell through the wires of the oven rack, and the pizza started oozing down through the gap. Sauce and melted cheese on the bottom of a very hot oven make a LOT of smoke. You can fix this problem by using fire bricks instead of quarry tiles, but...

                    Tiles and bricks - at least the ones I used - aren't completely flat. They're raised in the middle and lower at the edges. So your baked goods tend to sag a little at the places where the tiles meet. That wouldn't be such a problem, except...

                    There's an inherent problem when your cooking surface can scoot around like dominos being shuffled. When you're trying to pick up a pizza, and the bottom crust has dipped into a low spot on the tiles, and you dip the front edge of the peel into that low spot, and the tiles scoot away from one another, it can lead to tears in the crust and a general mess.

                    A good pizza stone is reinforced to prevent cracking, is made of a material that will withstand thermal shock, is smooth on top, and is one piece. I've used both methods fairly extensively, and the pizza stone is my clear favorite.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      The tile I used are even and flat, they are the same ones used on the floors of commercial kitchens, the ones that are uneven are clay, actual quarry tiles won't crack or break from temp change, been doing this for 30 years. Actually the best thing to use is a peice of pool table slate cut to size to fit your oven rack, very expensive to buy and to get cut.

                  2. open your windows and run it through the oven's self-clean cycle.

                    1. Thanks for the suggestions. I kind of suspected it was the oil, the smell does have a bit of rancidity to it. So annoying. I'll probably just buy a new pizza stone.

                      Well, let this be a public service announcement to anyone who gets a C&B pizza stone - throw away the instruction booklet! (Now I'm looking at the Crate and Barrel catalog description, and it suggests using the stone for burgers and fish (on the grill) as well as pizza. Why would you do that? And, why would you ever put it in the microwave? Crate and Barrel seems a little unclear on the concept.)

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: dubedo

                        I ditto why on the grill. I love my grill and the micro. NO, C&B need to redo that.

                        1. re: dubedo

                          Before you throw it away, Id put it in the oven and preheat to 500° for 30 minutes.

                          1. re: dubedo

                            Hi Dubedo.

                            Did you ever solve your burning plastic smell problem? Just curious because I also have a C&B pizza stone that I use just a couple of times a year, and I have also noticed a strong off gassing smell (like burning plastic) just after the pizza is done. It smell remains in the house for hours. I have never oiled my pizza stone, so I'm not sure it is an oil problem. I also am careful not to drop ingredients on the stone or in the oven.

                            Even stranger, only some of the people in my household can sense the off gassing smell. Me and my brother notice it immediately, one of my best friends cannot smell a thing.

                            I really love the taste and crunch of the pizza the stone produces, but I am increasingly more worried that the toxicity is an issue.

                            Perplexed in Texas.

                            1. re: nblair711

                              I'd advise you to return it to C&B for a refund or exchange for another item.

                              Then go buy yourself another brand of stone. It may not produce the gases that are bothering you. Mine's a fairly generic $30 stone from Home Depot. It's never off-gassed.

                              Or consider a baking steel, Emile Henry Flame stone, or cast iron pizza stone. All should produce the same pizza you're used to. Good luck!

                          2. I have Pampered Chef round pizza stone, it's been great for many years. It's unglazed brown ceramic, which I'm guessing yours is made of as well. I have never seasoned it in any way, nor have I felt the need to. It's got a nice black sheen to it now from years of burnt over drippings; Once in a while after it's cool I'll take it out and brush/scrape off any burnt on crumbs, but I haven't had to do that very often.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: hlehmann

                              My looks pretty black too ... look like crap honestly, cooks amazingly. Never seasoned. Just brown off, sometimes just a wet brush to get anything stuck on, but no problems

                            2. The oil will eventually cook out of the stone.

                              Our experience with an unglazed cooking stone in the oven was more for artisan bread baking and the stone really helped us to improve the quality and texture of crusts. Trying a foccacia recipe that was essentially a bread dough with a substantial amount of olive oil in the dough and across its top surface absolutely saturated the footprint of that loaf into the stone and as we took it out of the oven, we actually had oil that baked out of the loaf sitting on the stone and being absorbed by it. We wiped off what we could and spread a layer of salt on the stone hoping to draw out the absorbed oil and clearly that worked to some degree as when we wiped the salt away it was damp with the oil.

                              In the end, we ran the oven on its self clean mode, the stone smoked a bit, definitely smelled 'burned oil' and the stone turned pretty black but the next time we baked the stone was fine.

                              Two years later, same stone, much more stained after dozens of foccacia and pizzas but still stays in the oven 24/7 with no side effects on anything cooked therein

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ThanksVille

                                So, I'm confused--can you put dough on the baking stone that has been lightly coated w oil, to rise for example? Surely some fats soak into the stone--most dough has some fat in it.

                              2. I've owned about 4 pizza stones- some have cracked due to improper usage, and I just threw one out after it had about a 1/4 inch of buildup that I couldn't get off-- years in the oven will do that. I love 'em. The latest one reeked of a chemical, clay-type smell, probably similar to what you've experienced. It's been returned to the store. I think it's defective, or they started using some sort of new formula. Yuck! Bought a different brand.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jules1026

                                  Was the recent baking stone you purchased and took back from oneida by chance?

                                  1. re: sldwelle

                                    Farberware.

                                2. I would like to say that I agree with not using oil, as in vegetable oil or olive oil. But I completely disagree with almost all of these posts about seasoning a flat stone. After using a stone for years upon years it will eventually form a black coating known as a patina which protects the surface as well as through carbonizing creates a non-stick surface. If you ever stop into a well known pizza parlor of your choice and take a peak at their oven I guarantee it will have a beautiful black shiny coating. In order to speed this up you can use a mixture of salt and shortening or plain shortening and season the stone which will speed up the process of forming the patina. I borrowed the process below from another website but it works amazingly.

                                  Seasoning new uncoated Stoneware:

                                  You'll need: 1/2 cup Crisco, 1/4 cup salt

                                  Mix Crisco and salt. Spread over surfaces you want to be nonstick on stoneware.
                                  Bake in a 250 degree oven for 30 minutes. (put a piece of foil on the rack below the one your stoneware is on.) Take the stone out of the oven and let it cool with the melted goop still there. When cool enough to touch, take a paper towel or silicone brush and smear it all around, making some attempt to contact every part of the surface. The salt rubs on it and smooths it just a little. Put it back in the oven. Leave it for another 30 minutes. Turn the oven off, and leave the stoneware in overnight. This allows the oils to seep deeply into the stone. The next morning, rinse/scrape under hot water.

                                  Why does it work?

                                  The salt acts as a sandpaper - the "grit" is activated when you rub it around. And, unlike sand or sandpaper, salt rinses out/melts away under hot water. The smoother surface and the heat/oil saturation, make each work together to season the stones.

                                  btw this works well on cast iron, too.