Spending time out by a fire can be a relaxing way to spend time with your loved ones or just enjoy a relaxing night outside. Sometimes when sitting out by a fire pit smoke can become irritating to the senses and it can interrupt your good time. Many people often feel like the smoke from their fire pit is chasing them with a vengeance to disrupt their night.
Wondering how to reduce smoke in your fire pit? Our guide provides 9 insights on how to reduce and avoid smoke in your fire pit. Continue reading this guide to make the most of your time spent out by the fire.
Table of Contents
- What Causes a Fire to Produce a lot of Smoke?
- How to Reduce Smoke in Your Fire Pit?
- 1. Clean Your Fire Pit Regularly
- 2. Use a Smokeless Firepit
- 3. Don’t Smother Your Fire, Let it Breath!
- 4. Burn Properly Dried Wood
- 5. Do Not Burn Wood that was Recently Cut/Chopped
- 6. Watch for Lots of Sap in the Wood
- 7. Avoid Burning Leaves, Pine Needles, and Green Branches
- 8. How You Start the Fire Matters
- 9. Just Choose a Gas Fire Pit
- What’s the Best Type of Wood for a Low or No Smoke Fire?
- Can You Divert Smoke from a Fire Pit?
- Final Thoughts
What Causes a Fire to Produce a lot of Smoke?
Most of the time the reason a fire produces more smoke than normal is that the fire is not receiving enough oxygen. Another common cause is too much moisture in the wood you are burning. There are many potential reasons for excess smoke in your fire pit that we will address throughout this guide.
How to Reduce Smoke in Your Fire Pit?
Following these guidelines, you can reduce the excess smoke that you experience out by the fire. There are a lot of ways to absolve your smoke problems and we will walk you through nine different ways to remedy the issue below.
1. Clean Your Fire Pit Regularly
Extra debris present in your firepit can cause your fire pit to produce more smoke than normal. Cleaning out your firepit regularly can help prevent the buildup of debris. People often throw trash in their fire to dispose of it, but if you want to cut down on the smoke that your fire pit produces you should consider disposing of your trash a different way.
To clean out your fire pit you should follow the checklist below to make sure your fire pit is thoroughly cleaned out.
- Remove all wood and debris from your fire pit. Having wood and debris present in your fire pit can cause unwanted smoke to occur.
- Sweep up the ashes from the fire pit and dispose of them. Read our What to Do with Ashes from Fire Pit article here.
- Dampen a rag with soap and water
- Wipe out the firepit with your damp rag
- Take a dry rag and wipe down the clean firepit to completely dry it
- Wait for the fire pit to dry completely before using the fire pit again. Damp wood can produce more smoke and using a damp fire pit can make it more difficult to clean in the future.
A dirty fire pit is one of the main reasons that excess smoke is produced. Many people do not consider cleaning out their fire pit regularly, but it can be extremely helpful when it comes it reducing smoke.
Smokeless fire pits are another option to consider for reducing the smoke in your fire pit. The way that smokeless fire pits work is they allow you to burn the wood quicker than other firepits which cause less smoke. Despite the name of these fire pits, there is no way to eliminate smoke from a fire, but smokeless firepits, when maintained properly, can get you as close as you can to a smokeless experience.
Smokeless fire pits retain heat better than other fire pits while still giving the fire enough oxygen to breathe. To make sure you make the most of your smokeless fire pit you should follow the other guidelines on this list such as avoiding damp wood and using a fuel that doesn’t produce too much smoke. Following these guidelines in addition to using a smokeless fire pit can give you a very pleasant bonfire experience.
3. Don’t Smother Your Fire, Let it Breath!
Lack of oxygen is the number one cause of excess smoke being produced from your fire pit. If you have some sort of covering over your firepit that cuts off oxygen, then you will experience more smoke than normal. Remove any coverings from the fire pit that may be causing your fire to not receive enough oxygen.
Another thing to consider when figuring out if your fire is getting enough oxygen is if your fire pit is too enclosed for the size of your fire. Larger fires are going to need more space to breathe to make sure it receives enough oxygen. You may want to consider using less wood to have a smaller fire in your pit or investing in a larger fire pit.
4. Burn Properly Dried Wood
Moisture trapped inside the wood you are using can also cause your fire pit to produce excess smoke. Moisture can become trapped inside of your wood when left out in the rain or from morning dew. To avoid moisture getting trapped inside your wood you should store your wood in a dry area that is covered.
Follow the guidelines below to make sure your wood is dried out properly to reduce the production of smoke.
- Store your wood in an open dry area that is covered. Allow warm air to circulate in the area if possible. Storing your wood indoors is ideal because that will prevent rain and morning dew from causing your wood to trap moisture.
- Do not store your wood in a pile if possible. When you store your wood in a pile then water will have a more difficult time being removed from the wood. Store the wood in one even layer with space between each log to allow air to circulate properly.
- Allow your wood to rest in this area for a minimum of two days, turn the logs once a day to allow air to access more areas of the wood. After two days in these conditions, the wood should be properly dried out.
Drying out your logs as much as you can reduce the smoke produced from your firepit by a significant amount. Many people make the mistake of storing their wood outside in a stack which causes the wood to retain moisture.
5. Do Not Burn Wood that was Recently Cut/Chopped
When wood is freshly chopped, you will need to wait a few days for the plant to die all the way. When the plant is still alive the wood will retain moisture. It takes a while for the wood of the tree to fully die and dry out.
When wood is freshly cut it is still wet and wet wood will cause there to be more smoke produced from your fire pit than normal. Being patient and allowing your freshly chopped logs of wood to dry all the way will help you reduce the smoke in your firepit. Try to keep your freshly cut wood logs separated from your logs that are older and already dried out.
Organizing your chopped wood is the best way to avoid burning your freshly cut wood. Try to designate an area for old wood that is dry and ready to burn and an area for wood that needs time to dry out all the way.
6. Watch for Lots of Sap in the Wood
The sap is common moisture that is found in most woods that causes excessive smoke when burning the wood. If you are burning wood, you should check to make sure there isn’t any sap in your wood. Pine and fir are known to produce more sap than other types of wood so be extra careful when burning wood from either pine trees or fir trees.
To see if your wood has sap in it, you can cut your log of wood in half with an ax and feet the inside of the wood log. The sap will be watery and slightly sticky to the touch. There may be an amber coloration and the sap will be mostly translucent. If you find sap in your wood, you will need to treat the wood with heat to dry out the tree sap
You can use a kiln or a hot room to heat treat the wood and dry out the sap. This drying process can take a week depending on the temperature of the area you are using to dry out your wood. Once your wood is dried out you will be able to burn it and reduce the smoke that comes from the wood. Try to use wood from trees that do not produce much sap if possible because drying out tree sap can be inconvenient.
7. Avoid Burning Leaves, Pine Needles, and Green Branches
Leaves, pine needles, and green branches all are chock full of moisture more so than most wood contains. These parts of the plants are meant to retain moisture which is why their concentration of moisture will be higher than regular wood. Anything that contains moisture will cause excess smoke when burned, so you should make sure anything you want to burn is dried out before burning.
Check out some of our related articles about burning in your own yard:
- Can You Burn Grass Clippings in Your Yard?
- Can You Burn Leaves in Your Yard?
- What to Do if a Neighbor is Burning Pressure-Treated Wood
If you want to bur leaves, pine needles, or green branches you should allow these things to dry out before you burn them. All these things can be dried out by being kept in a warm dry room and stored in a single layer. Having your leaves, pine needles, and green branches will allow them to dry out quickly.
When sored in piles moisture will be stuck in the plants longer than when stored in a single layer. If you store the plants outside then you run the risk of your plants never drying out because of natural humidity, morning dew, and rain.
All these natural elements can disrupt the drying out process and cause excess smoke to be produced when the plants are lit on fire. Any moisture that is present in the plants will cause unwanted smoke.
8. How You Start the Fire Matters
People often try to use paper or cardboard as fire starters because it is usually just what they have on hand. However, using these items is not necessarily a good idea because all these things are made with water which causes bonfires to be extra smoky. You can never completely dry out cardboard or paper the same way you can wood because that is the way those items are made.
There are fire-starting products that you can purchase from the store to start a fire without as much smoke as cardboard or paper. These fire starters are normally cheap and easy to get a hold of. To start your fire with these just tuck them in between dried-out wood logs and light them on fire to make sure the wood logs can catch on fire.
People also use dried-out twigs as a fire starter and call it kindling. To use twigs properly as a Firestarter you should make sure that the twigs are completely dried out before use. Damp twigs will cause excess smoke just like paper and cardboard and will not be a very effective fire starter.
Dried-out birch twigs can make a great fire starter. When using twigs to start a fire you should also make sure there are no leaves attached to the twigs.
If you are especially sensitive to smoke, you may want to avoid using a wood fire pit altogether. When wood is burning smoke is a necessary part of the process, and while you can reduce the smoke from a wood fire pit you can never eliminate the smoke from a wood fire pit. Gas fire pits do not cause smoke because they do not burn wood as a wood fire pit does.
Choosing to use a gas fire pit may be ideal for people that have difficulty cleaning out their fire pit regularly or don’t have a good area to dry out their wood all the way. Many people have a hard time drying out wood completely because many people don’t have an indoor location where they can dry out the wood and it is almost impossible to dry out wood outside in most locations.
If you want to avoid smoke altogether then choosing a gas fire pit will save you all the trouble. Maintaining a gas fire pit is easy and allows you to enjoy the outdoors without dealing with irritating smoke. Gas fire pits are great for people with sensitive skin and eyes and for people who don’t have space to store wood.
What’s the Best Type of Wood for a Low or No Smoke Fire?
If you want a wood that doesn’t smoke too much, then you should avoid woods like Pine and Fir that have a high sap concentration. The best woods to use for wood fires are dry hardwoods like oak, maple, and hickory. These woods also have the bonus of integrating flavor into your food when cooked over the fire that is burned with these types of woods.
You should avoid any hardwoods that have a higher moisture concentration like eucalyptus. These high moisture woods will not burn well and will cause excessive smoke production. Even when using oak, hickory, and maple you will need to give the wood time to dry out before you burn it. Moisture is the main cause of too much smoke being produced when burning.
Can You Divert Smoke from a Fire Pit?
Diverting smoke from a fire pit is not an effective way to enjoy your fire. You can add more holes at the base of your firepit to promote more oxygen flow to your fire and reduce overall smoke production, but it will not completely change the direction of your smoke. You can attempt to fan the smoke elsewhere from your fire pit, but the direction of smoke will most likely be directed by the wind.
Setting up your fireplace that doesn’t have too much wind flow can help you keep your smoke from going all over the place, but the best way to control your smoke is to reduce the amount of smoke produced. The direction of your smoke will go where the wind goes, even If it is just a slight breeze. Even if you don’t notice a breeze the smoke from your fire will notice the breeze.
The best way to reduce the smoke production from your wood fire pit is to make sure that the wood that you are burning is completely dry and that your fire is receiving enough oxygen. Any moisture present when you are having a fire will cause excessive smoke to be produced. Fires need plenty of oxygen to be able to burn with minimal smoke.
A strangled fire is a smoky fire so you should make sure the area your fire is in isn’t too congested while burning. Just like people fires need plenty of oxygen to breathe. If you give your fire enough oxygen and you make sure the things you are burning are completely dry then you won’t have to deal with too much smoke. If you want to avoid smoke entirely you should consider purchasing a gas fire pit instead of a wood one.
Related Outdoor Fire Pit Articles:
- 10 Best Fire Pit Ring Inserts (Full Guide)
- Fire Pit Sand Guide (All You Need to Know)
- 10 Best Fire Pit Mats
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Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.