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How to Make Fire Pit Smokeless?

Enjoying the warmth and ambiance of a crackling fire in your backyard can be a magical experience, but if you have to spend the evening constantly moving from chair to chair to keep the smoke from stinging your eyes, it becomes less than ideal. Fortunately, there's a solution to this problem – a smokeless fire pit. There are a couple of ways to eliminate a...

How to Make Fire Pit Smokeless?

Enjoying the warmth and ambiance of a crackling fire in your backyard can be a magical experience, but if you have to spend the evening constantly moving from chair to chair to keep the smoke from stinging your eyes, it becomes less than ideal.

Fortunately, there's a solution to this problem – a smokeless fire pit. There are a couple of ways to eliminate a smoke problem: change your fuel source or build a DIY smokeless wood-burning pit. But even if you can't replace what you are already working with, we've got tips to cut down the smoke from your existing wood-burning pit.

What Makes a Fire Pit Smoke?

Several factors can contribute to a fire pit producing excessive smoking, and understanding these elements can help you minimize the smoke and get a more enjoyable fire experience. 

Here are some key factors that can make a fire pit produce a lot of smoke:

  • Poor Airflow: When there isn't enough oxygen getting to the fire, it can lead to incomplete combustion, resulting in more smoke. 
  • Using Green Wood: Burning green wood, which contains a high moisture content, can lead to playing musical chairs around the fire pit because the heat generated is used to evaporate the water, rather than producing a clean, efficient burn. 
  • Incorrect Fire Pit Design: The design of the fire pit itself can impact smoke production. Fire pits that lack proper drafting or chimney-like structures can lead to smoke lingering in everyone's faces instead of dissipating into the atmosphere. 
  • Wind Direction: Wind can affect the way smoke is dispersed. If the wind blows smoke directly towards you or into an area where people are sitting, it can create a smoky environment. 
  • Overloading the Fire Pit: Putting too much wood or fuel into the fire pit at once can overwhelm the fire and result in excess smoke. 
  • Inadequate Maintenance: A buildup of ashes and debris in the fire pit can impede airflow and cause more smoke.
  • Burning the Wrong Things: Certain materials, like plastic, treated wood, or garbage, can release toxic fumes and produce heavy smoke. 

Alternative Fuel Sources

When it comes to smoke production, the type of fire pit you have plays a big part. Wood burning obviously puts out the most smoke, but how do the other types of fuel sources fare? 

Natural Gas

Natural gas fire pits are known for producing significantly less smoke than wood-burning fire pits because they use clean-burning natural gas as a fuel source. Natural gas results in a much more controlled and efficient combustion process, and, as a result, the smoke production in a natural gas fire pit is minimal, often almost negligible.

However, it's important to note that while natural gas fire pits produce very little smoke, the amount is not zero. There may still be a small amount of smoke or vapor produced due to impurities in the natural gas or dust and debris on the burner. This smoke is typically minimal. 

Propane

Propane fire pits, like natural gas fire pits, are designed to be clean-burning and produce minimal smoke. While it is possible for some smoking to occur, it is usually due to impurities in the propane or other factors such as dust or debris on the burner. The amount of smoke produced in these cases is generally negligible. 

Propane fire pits are valued for their efficiency, convenience, and ability to provide a nearly smoke-free outdoor heating solution.

Smokeless Fire Pits 

There are several brands that sell smokeless fire pits, but they can be pricey, especially the larger models. 

Amazon sells one called the Onlyfire Smokeless Fire Pit at a budget-friendly price (under $200.) It is a portable pit made of stainless steel with a double-walled design to cut down on smoke and sparks. 

Home Depot has several options including the $600 X Series pit made of Corten steel. The high-quality material is corrosion-resistant and built to maximize airflow to eliminate as much smoke as possible. 

Walmart has the Pit Boss fire pit made of steel with a black finish. It comes in under $300 with an 11.5-inch burn chamber. The Pit Boss burns wood pellets but still manages to produce a fair amount of heat. 

Making a DIY Smokeless Fire Pit

If you are the handy type, you may want to simply make the fire pit yourself. Here are simple instructions to help you build your own smokeless fire pit:

Materials

  • Steel fire pit ring (or a metal container with ventilation holes)
  • Gravel or sand
  • Heat-resistant pavers or bricks
  • Fireproof stones or rocks
  • Steel mesh or metal grate
  • Fireproof mortar or adhesive

Start by selecting a suitable location for your fire pit — away from flammable materials with good ventilation.

Using gravel or sand, make a stable and level foundation for your fire pit. 

Place the steel fire pit ring in the center of the base. (If using a metal container, drill ventilation holes around the sides.)

Stack the fireproof pavers or bricks around the steel ring, creating an outer wall. Make sure to leave gaps between the bricks for air circulation.

Place the fireproof stones or rocks inside the steel ring, covering the bottom. The rocks will absorb and then radiate heat, creating a cleaner burn.

Position a steel mesh or metal grate above the rocks. This creates a platform for the firewood, allowing air to circulate underneath for better combustion.

Use fireproof mortar or adhesive to secure the pavers/bricks in place. (Stability equals safety!)

Tips for Cutting Down the Smoke

If you already have a traditional wood-burning fire pit, there are a few things you can do to cut down on the smoke that is produced to give you and your guests a more enjoyable experience. 

  • Prepare your firewood in smaller pieces — no larger than 4 inches in diameter.
  • Start your fire early, at least 20 minutes before you want to enjoy it. A roaring fire will produce less smoke than a weak one, and it will take some time to get it going.
  • Use a firestarter made of natural materials like newspaper, tumbleweeds, or dryer lint. 
  • Make sure your firewood is good quality. The best option is well-seasoned hardwoods.
  • Stack your wood to create maximum airflow. Consider using a “log cabin” or “teepee” stack.
  • Don’t overfeed the flames. Once the flames get going, only add one or two pieces of firewood at a time.
  • Once you are finished for the evening, clean out the ashes (once they’ve cooled!) to keep your fire pit ready for next time. 
  • How you store your firewood can also affect the smokiness of the fire. Elevate the logs at least 6 inches off the ground so they do not absorb moisture and also keep them covered.

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