Health & Safety Around The Charlie Oven
Important: general safety considerations
The Charlie Oven is not intended for use by those with reduced physical, sensory or mental capabilities, or lack of experience or knowledge, unless they have been given supervision or instruction concerning the use of the Charlie Oven by a person responsible for their safety. Please keep children and pets safely away from the Charlie Oven and any flammable or dangerous materials associated with its use, at all times. The Charlie Oven is not for use by children.
Getting the Charlie Oven Safely Into Position
The Charlie Oven must only be used in a safe position
The Charlie Oven is for outdoor use only, in an area with unrestricted ventilation. Never cover or obstruct the chimney (or any other part of the oven) when in use, or cooling after use.
It must be positioned on a completely flat, hard, weight-bearing surface.
The Charlie Oven should sit at least 50cm away from any flammable materials.
Moving the Charlie Oven safely
When moving the Charlie Oven into position, be aware that it weighs over 180 kg and can only be wheeled on its castors over flat, hard, weight-bearing surfaces. Its design means that it is top-heavy: you must take that into account when moving it.
Please ensure adequate safety precautions and equipment are used when moving the Charlie Oven; and it is the user’s responsibility to ensure safe manual handling practices are observed. The Charlie Oven should be moved on its castors by at least two adults, with at least one adult guiding it from the front and at least one adult guiding it from the back.
Do not attempt to move the Charlie oven unless the door is securely closed.
The Charlie oven must be locked into position when in use, with the locks on its front two castors; and should never be moved when in use, or until it’s totally cooled down after use.
Do's and Don'ts when cooking with Charlie
Always cook with the door shut
The door can be opened for short periods whilst cooking, to put in and take out food, check and turn food and add and/or take away charcoal and wood.
Cooking with the door open (especially at higher temperatures) can damage the door seal by exposing it to direct heat from the charcoal. For the same reason, and because the smoke will escape form the door, rather than the chimney, this can also damage the paintwork around the door.
Do not add already-lit charcoal or wood to the Charlie
Unlit charcoal and wood will start to burn very quickly if it’s placed on the grate while the oven is already in use.
Do not exceed a maximum temperature of 400°C.
Cooking Safely With Charlie
Be aware of high temperatures and take appropriate care
The exterior casing of the Charlie Oven will become hot during use.
Please exercise caution and use appropriate heat-proof safety gloves.
The interior, interior fittings and any baking trays, or stones will reach temperatures of up to 400 degrees Celsius: please exercise extreme caution and use heat-proof safety gloves (and tongs, as appropriate) at all times when the Charlie Oven is in operation.
Use only recommended fuels and lighting techniques
The Charlie Oven is designed to be used with charcoal as its primary fuel, with the addition of wood, or wood chips to create more intense smoky flavours.
Do not use the Charlie Oven with any other fuels.
The Charlie Oven works best using sustainably-sourced, natural lumpwood charcoal.
Never pour water or other liquids onto hot, or even warm, charcoal, wood or embers.
Never use alcohol or any other accelerants when lighting or using the Charlie Oven.
Be aware of and observe cooling-down times
After use, let the Charlie Oven cool down completely before cleaning, or emptying the ash drawer. This will take several hours, given the Charlie oven’s exceptional heat-retention ability.
One simple step before you cook in the Charlie Oven for the first time.
Before cooking with the Charlie Oven for the first time, it’s wise to season the grill trays.
Just wipe the grill trays with a high heat oil (like groundnut oil or rapeseed oil), get the Charlie Oven up to at least 250 degrees Celsius, then let it cool down totally.
That’s it: the grills are now seasoned and ready to cook on.
How to light the Charlie Oven
Lighting the Charlie Oven takes three easy steps.
There are only two controls on a Charlie Oven. The control knobs for the lower vent (which draws air into the oven) and the control knob for the upper vent (which lets air and smoke escape from the oven into the chimney). Push each knob in to close the vent, pull it out to open the vent.
- Before lighting, make sure both vents are fully open. To light the Charlie Oven, make sure that the charcoal grates at the bottom of the oven are clean and free from any ashes or debris.
- Then make a shallow pyramid of charcoal towards the middle of the grates. Leave a bit of room between the lumps for them to breathe. Light one or two natural wood/wool firelighters at the base of the pyramid. Make sure they’re properly alight. Don’t use lighter fluid or artificial fire lighters.
- Then close the door: to close it securely, just rotate the handle anti-clockwise from the 9 o’clock position to the 6 o’clock position. The fully open upper and lower vents will naturally draw air through the oven and the charcoal will start to burn.
The Charlie Oven then just needs to be left alone for it to get up to temperature. It can reach peak temperature – if you so wish - of up to 350 degrees Celsius, in about 30 minutes or so.
Effortless Cooking With Charlie: Temperature Control And Cooking Styles
How to control the temperature
The Charlie Oven can be set to cook at any temperature from around 80 degrees Celsius to around 350 degrees Celsius.
Depending on whether you want to cook low’n’slow, hot smoke, or sear at intense heat.
The thermometer on the front of the oven will tell you the temperature at the oven’s mid-point. That is representative of the heat in the entire oven. But, near the coals at the bottom of the oven, there will be additional radiant, direct heat from the coals themselves – and potentially flame-back – for more intense searing.
Controlling the Charlie Oven’s temperature is primarily the job of the lower vent.
Once the Charlie Oven is 20 degrees Celsius short of the temperature you’re aiming for, shut down the lower vent, throttle the upper vent down to about ¼ open, and the temperature will rise a little – then it will hold – and it will sustain that temperature for several hours.
To increase the temperature again, just open both vents, to draw more air through the oven. If the Charlie Oven has been running for a long time and the temperature starts to drop, simply add more charcoal to the grates and fully open the lower vent.
Uses of different rack heights and smoking
Set your racks in the Charlie Oven to fit the type of cooking you want for each element of your meal. Cook high, cook low. Remember that there will be a higher temperature, with the possibility of flame-back, immediately above the charcoal. In the top half of the oven, all the cooking will be done by indirect heat, as indicated by the thermometer.
The Charlie Oven takes much less time to heat up than it does to cool down, so plan your cooking accordingly!
If you want to add extra depth of smoky flavour to your food, just add some properly seasoned and dried wood chunks or chips onto the charcoal.
You’ll very quickly get used to how easy the Charlie Oven is to use and control.
Cooling And Cleaning Charlie
The Charlie Oven is very low maintenance.
Once you’ve finished cooking, just let the Charlie Oven cool down naturally, by closing both the upper and lower vents, which interrupts the air flow to the charcoal.
Given the Charlie Oven’s heavy-duty construction and insulation, it can take several hours to totally cool.
Whilst the Charlie Oven is still warm, you can brush the cooking racks clean with a wire brush. But wait until the Charlie Oven has totally cooled down until dealing with the grate or ashes or undertaking any other cleaning.
When the Charlie Oven is totally cool, using a wire brush, brush any charcoal residue through the gaps in the grates. It will fall into the ash drawer: from time to time, lift the grates to ensure all the ash has fallen right through.
To dispose of the cold ashes (ensure they are completely cold), simply pull out the ash drawer completely from the base and empty its contents into a suitable bin.
Make sure the ash drawer is emptied before it gets full, as this could interfere with the air flow through the oven.
The Charlie Oven requires little cleaning. Don’t use any cleaning products at all on the interior of the oven. To clean the exterior, just use a soapy cloth or sponge with some warm water. Please don’t use any metal polishes or scourers.