The ambience of the flames, the roasting marshmallows, and hours of conversations are just some of the reasons why fire pits are so enjoyable and have become extremely popular in backyards around North America and beyond.
Despite the joy fire pits provide us, they are not always cooperative in regard to how much they smoke. A person sitting in the wrong spot in their fire pit chair can have a miserable night being continuously greeted with a face full of smoke.
While smoke is inevitable from a wood-burning fire pit, many people are plagued with the issue of excessive smoke. Fortunately, there are a few ways to minimize the smoke from a fire pit.
Minimizing Fire Pit Smoke
Use Seasoned Firewood
Seasoned firewood is chopped wood that has been left out to dry to remove a large percentage of its moisture. The wood seasoning process is usually six months or more. Please read our article titled, How Long Does it Take to Season Firewood for more information on this topic.
The reason not to use unseasoned firewood (a.k.a. green wood) is that it typically will produce an undesirable amount of smoke from the moisture inside the wood. While it is tempting to burn freshly felled wood around the yard out of convenience, you’ll likely have to deal with the consequences of a smokey yard. Furthermore, unseasoned firewood produces less heat compared to seasoned wood since energy is wasted burning off moisture.
Burn The Right Wood
In addition to using properly dried wood, the type of wood burned can make a difference in terms of the smoke produced. Stick with the hardwoods for less smoke such as oak, maple, walnut, cherry, or birch. Generally, you should stay away from the softwoods like pine, fir, and cedar if you want to avoid smoke. This is because they take a long time to season and they are often prematurely burned. However, softwoods are often good for kindling since they burn hot and fast.
Keep A Dry Fire Pit
Water accumulation is inevitable in a fire pit if you store it uncovered outside. Drying out the fire pit bowl before adding wood will help reduce smoke. You should also clean out any wet debris lingering from the previous fire.
Avoid Burning Debris
Burning material like leaves, fresh grass clippings, weeds, and trash should be avoided to reduce smoke. Stick with buring only dry tinder, kindling, and logs to keep smoke at a minimum. You may want to invest in an axe to create kindling from your existing firewood. This will help reduce the need to potential burn a material that will produce smoke.
It might seem convenient to crowd the fire pit with wood so that you do not need to keep adding more logs to fuel the fire. However, a fire burns most efficient when the logs are able to receive a sufficient amount of airflow. Stacking the kindling and logs so that air is able to efficiently reach them will reduce smoke and produce a better fire.
A chiminea is an excellent alternative to a fire pit because it produces less annoying smoke. Smoke is directed upward and out of the chimney or stack of the chiminea. This prevents smoke from getting in the faces of people sitting nearby. Check out our article on chimineas vs fire pits for additional information on this topic.
Gas Fire Pit
A gas fire pit is fueled by propane or natural gas. There are typically faux logs or coals inside the fire pit bowl to give the appearance of a real fire. One of the major advantages of this type of fire pit is that there is no smoke. You can sit around it for hours without ever getting annoyed by smoke. The disadvantage of gas fire pits is that they lack the heat production of real wood burning fire pits.
Fire pit smoke is often kept to a minimum by simply using seasoned hardwood that is stacked to allow proper airflow to the logs. Keeping the fire pit and the materials that are burned dry as possible is also a major key to minimizing smoke. If you follow what was discussed above, we are confident you will have many days ahead of enjoyable times around the fire pit.