Pyrolytic Ovens: Are They A Must Have?


Before we get into whether pyrolytic ovens are a must have, I want to give some information on what exactly they are and what exactly it is that they do.

What is a pyrolytic oven?

A pyrolytic oven is a form of self-cleaning oven. Pyrolytic ovens are designed with a function that makes the oven get incredibly hot, approximately 500oC. At these temperatures, any grease, fat or food debris in the oven will be incinerated and turn to ash, a process called pyrolysis.  You can see how they got the name ‘pyrolytic’.

How do pyrolytic ovens work?

Pyrolytic ovens are a regular looking oven in your kitchen with all the normal cooking functions and features that you might expect, however, they have one special feature and ability.

Pyrolytic ovens have an enhanced layer of enamel that coats the insides of them; this enamel is made so that it can withstand extremely high temperatures in order for the pyrolysis to be effective.

Any organic matter such as fat, grease or food residue that is left inside the oven from day to day cooking will get burnt to ash by the extremely high temperatures of the pyrolytic feature. But don’t worry, there are no flames involved – just a lot of heat.

How do you use the self-cleaning function on a pyrolytic oven?

Using the self-cleaning function on a pyrolytic oven is quite a simple process. There are, however, a few things you must do in order to make the function as safe and effective as it can be.

Firstly, you will need to remove everything from the oven including all trays, shelves and shelf supports (the things attached to the sides of the oven) – it has to be completely empty.

Once everything is emptied you should wipe out any big bits of food/fat that can easily be removed. This will help to make the self-cleaning process function more efficient and can help prevent excess smoke build up inside the oven.

After the oven has been completely prepared, you simply select the pyrolytic function on your oven and follow the steps to begin the process. Each oven is different; some may have a text display to cycle through and select the mode, others may have the symbol for pyrolytic cleaning which looks like the below image. If at all unsure check your appliance manual, or look up the manual on the manufacturers website.

Pyrolytic Function Symbol
Pyrolytic Function Symbol

Once function begins, the oven will lock its door and begin the self-cleaning process. This can take approximately 3 hours to complete. During this time, the oven will build up to those very high temperatures needed to burn away all the matter inside and turn it to ash. Once the self-cleaning cycle has finished, the oven will need a bit more time to cool down inside before it will unlock and you are able to open the door.

Once completely finished, you can simply wipe out the oven interior with a damp cloth to remove the ash left over from the pyrolysis process and put the supports and shelves back in, ready to use as normal again.

Are pyrolytic ovens safe?

Pyrolytic ovens come with certain safety measures in place, such as automatically locking the door once the self-cleaning process starts to prevent anyone from accidentally opening the oven and exposing themselves to the extreme temperatures.

Similarly, the door is designed so that the outside doesn’t get too hot, and even when the function has finished, the door will stay locked until it has cooled to a certain temperature that is safe to open.

Obviously, the door will get somewhat hot from the process so you should still avoid touching it while in operation, but it won’t be as extreme as the inside temperature. This makes it safer in case children or pets accidentally touch the oven door.

However, while these safety features are great, there are some things I would recommend doing and taking into consideration when using the self-cleaning function on a pyrolytic oven.

Firstly, make sure you have plenty of time to perform the function, as it can take 3 or more hours. Also, only perform this while you are at home so you can keep an eye on things. I wouldn’t advise turning it on and then leaving the house.

When the process is in operation, I would recommend that you open any nearby windows and/or have your extractor (cooker hood) running on low to help remove any smoke and smells produced during the self-cleaning cycle.

The function can produce some rather nasty smells as it burns away everything inside of the oven, so it’s also very important to move yourself and any pets out of the kitchen while this is happening. Just pop in every now and then to check everything is okay.

Are pyrolytic ovens a must have?

Pyrolytic ovens are becoming more and more popular, with most manufactures now introducing the function to certain models within their ranges.

Depending on your cooking habits and lifestyle, they can be fantastic and save a lot of time and elbow ache, as manually cleaning an oven can be a tough job. Or, if it’s the kind of thing you would get someone else to do for you, cleaning an oven can cost a pretty penny.

However, ovens with the pyrolytic function are often more expensive or are only available in the higher spec models of oven brands, so chances are you will need to be spending a bit more upfront the get this feature. This is where you need to think and ask yourself if you will see the benefits of this function and if spending a bit more money on an oven to get this feature will be a worthwhile investment in your future.

Personally, I think that it is worth the extra bit of money to make your life easier down the line, and with popularity growing, I think more people will be expecting this feature as standard with their oven, so that price difference will shrink and you’ll see this feature in almost all ovens.

A note on manually cleaning a pyrolytic oven:

You should never clean a pyrolytic oven manually using anything too abrasive, such as wire wool, as this will damage the enamel layer that makes the pyrolytic function possible. If you damage this, you run the risk of not being able to use the function safely again. The point of spending the extra money in the first place is to not have to manually clean your oven, so don’t.

You can, of course, use a soft sponge or damp cloth with warm water and a little bit of gentle soap to give the oven a quick little clean in between your main pyrolytic cleaning cycles – just don’t use anything abrasive that may damage the oven lining.

If at all in doubt, always check your oven manual before cleaning, either manually or with the pyrolytic setting.

If you’re looking for information on other appliances, have a look at my Appliance Guide section for more info and recommended products.