APPLIANCE GUIDES, OVENS

What Is A Pyrolytic Oven? (& Are They A Must Have?)

Looking at buying an oven for your new kitchen renovation, or simply upgrading your existing oven? Are you coming across pyrolytic ovens and wondering what they are and if they are worth it?

Well, fear not! This post is for you.

In this post, I’ll explain what a pyrolytic oven is, how it works and if it is a must-have function for your oven.

Let’s get into it!

What Is A Pyrolytic Oven?

A pyrolytic oven is an oven that has a self-cleaning feature which uses extremely high temperatures to burn off and decompose food residues and other organic matter into ash, making it easier to clean.

The pyrolytic function utilizes high temperatures, typically around 500°C (932°F) or higher, to break down and incinerate food residues and other organic matter. During the pyrolytic cleaning cycle, the oven is locked to ensure safety, and once the cycle is complete, the residues are reduced to ash, which can be easily wiped away.

This is a process called pyrolysis, so you can see how they got the name ‘pyrolytic’.

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How Do Pyrolytic Ovens Work?

Pyrolytic ovens are regular-looking ovens 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 liner is made so that it can withstand extremely high temperatures for 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.

Residue left after using an oven's pyrolytic cleaning function
The residue left after using an oven’s pyrolytic cleaning function

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How Do You Use The Self-Cleaning Function On A Pyrolytic Oven?

Using the self-cleaning oven function on a pyrolytic oven is quite a simple process. There are, however, a few things you must do 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 efficiently and can help prevent excess smoke from building 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 manufacturer’s website.

Pyrolytic Function Symbol
Pyrolytic Function Symbol

Once the 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 into 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 can 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.

Pros of Pyrolytic Ovens

  • Self-Cleaning Feature: Pyrolytic ovens eliminate the need for manual scrubbing or the use of chemical cleaners.

  • Hygienic: The high temperatures ensure that almost all food residues and potential bacteria are incinerated.

  • Time-Saving: The self-cleaning feature can save users considerable time and effort that would have been spent on manual cleaning.

  • Safety Features: Most pyrolytic ovens are equipped with safety features such as automatic door locks during the cleaning cycle to prevent accidental burns.

  • Improved Cooking Performance: By maintaining a clean oven interior, cooking performance can be optimized, as there are no burnt residues to affect heat distribution.

  • Environmental Friendly: Reduces the need for chemical cleaning agents which can be harmful to the environment.

Cons of Pyrolytic Ovens

  • Higher Initial Cost: Pyrolytic ovens tend to be more expensive than their non-pyrolytic counterparts.

  • Energy Consumption: The self-cleaning process can use a significant amount of energy due to the high temperatures required.

  • Heat Emission: The oven can emit a lot of heat during the pyrolytic cleaning process, potentially raising the temperature of the room.

  • Duration of Cleaning Cycle: The cleaning cycle can take a few hours, during which the oven cannot be used for cooking.

  • Maintenance: While the pyrolytic process deals with food residues, users will still need to manually clean and maintain other parts of the oven, such as seals, gaskets, and glass doors, to ensure longevity.

  • Potential Odours: Using the function can create a temporary smell during or after the cleaning process.

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How Long Does Pyrolytic Cleaning Take?

On average, a pyrolytic cleaning cycle takes between 1.5 to 3 hours. However, the exact duration can vary based on several factors:

  1. Oven Brand and Model: Different manufacturers might have slightly varying cycle durations for their pyrolytic ovens.

  2. Degree of Soiling: Some pyrolytic oven models offer different cleaning cycle options based on how dirty the oven is. For light soiling, you might only need a shorter cycle. In contrast, a heavily soiled oven that hasn’t been cleaned in a while may require a longer, more intense cleaning cycle.

  3. Energy-Saving Modes: Some pyrolytic ovens come with an energy-saving or eco mode. This mode might lengthen the cleaning process slightly but will use less energy.

While the pyrolytic cleaning cycle might seem lengthy, it’s important to remember the significant time savings overall. Instead of spending hours scrubbing stubborn grime, you can simply activate the cleaning cycle, go about your day, and then return to an oven that’s easy to wipe clean.

Given this convenience, I think the duration of the pyrolytic cleaning process is a fair trade-off.

How Much Do Pyrolytic Ovens Cost?

Prices for pyrolytic ovens can vary widely based on the brand, features, and where you purchase them from. However, as a general guide:

  • Entry-Level Pyrolytic Ovens: These usually start from around £300 to £500. They may have the basic pyrolytic cleaning feature but might lack some of the advanced features of pricier models.

  • Mid-Range Pyrolytic Ovens: These typically range from £500 to £1,000. They often come with additional features such as advanced cooking modes, better energy efficiency, or more refined designs.

  • High-End Pyrolytic Ovens: These can range from £1,500 upwards, often exceeding £3,000. High-end models typically come from luxury appliance brands and may offer superior build quality, advanced smart features, more functions, or a combination of these attributes.

Can You Manually Clean 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.

What Are Pyrolytic Ovens? & Are They A Must Have?

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Are Pyrolytic Ovens Safe?

Yes, pyrolytic ovens are safe. Pyrolytic ovens come with certain safety measures in place. Such as automatically locking the door once the self-cleaning process starts. This is to prevent anyone from accidentally opening the oven and exposing themselves to 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 the residual heat 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. However, 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 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 now and then to check everything is okay.

Are Pyrolytic Ovens A Must Have?

Yes, I think that pyrolytic ovens are 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.

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

Depending on your cooking habits and lifestyle, they can be fantastic and save a lot of time, hassle and elbow ache.

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.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Everything you need to know about pyrolytic ovens.

Personally, I think the pyrolytic function is a worthwhile upgrade to an oven, especially in busy households. As more manufacturers include this function in more of their oven line-ups, I believe we will see prices fall and pyrolytic functions become a standard feature in the not-so-distant future.

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Author

Michael from Kitchinsider.com

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.