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Everything About Smokeless Fire Pits: How They Work, Pros and Cons, and More

Everything About Smokeless Fire Pits: How They Work, Pros and Cons, and More

Traditional outdoor wood fire pits come with a major drawback: smoke. Breathing in all that smoke while you're trying to relax and enjoy time around the fire is not ideal. This is where smokeless fire pits come in - offering you the atmosphere and ambiance of a real wood fire, without the smoke ruining the experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Smokeless fire pits burn wood with less smoke using a double-wall design and engineered airflow.

  • The gap between walls allows air to enter vents, heat up, and facilitate secondary combustion to burn smoke into heat and light.

  • Benefits include less smoke, better efficiency, portability, and the ability to be used during burn bans.

  • Drawbacks compared to traditional fire pits include higher costs, less radiant heat, and smaller capacities.

A backyard in the early evening with a fire burning in a square pit and a bright greenhouse behind it, surrounded by plants and flowers

    What is a Smokeless Fire Pit?

    A smokeless fire pit is a specially designed outdoor fire pit that burns wood or other solid fuels in a way that produces very little smoke. While no fire pit can be 100% smoke-free, smokeless fire pits use technology like double walls, air vents, and fans to allow secondary combustion of gases and particulates, drastically reducing the amount of visible smoke exiting the fire pit.

    How Do Smokeless Fire Pits Work?

    Smokeless fire pits achieve a cleaner, smoke-reduced burn through a patented design that optimizes airflow and combustion. Here are the key components that make them work:

    • Smokeless fire pits have an inner and outer steel wall with a hollow space between them. The gap is only a few inches wide but this space serves an important purpose.
    • There are vents at the base of the outer wall that allow cool air to be drawn into the space between the walls.
    • As the vented air rises through the gap between walls it absorbs heat from the fire. This preheats the air before it enters the inner fire chamber.
    • The superheated air travels up and exits through small holes at the top of the inner wall, aimed down over the burning logs.
    • Injecting the 500-700°F preheated oxygen causes smoke and gases rising from the fire to ignite. This burns off particulates, producing heat and light instead of smoke.
    • The continuous loop of incoming cool air and exiting hot air creates convection that improves the burn efficiency. More nutrients are incinerated in the wood with less waste.

    The carefully engineered airflow allows the fire to burn hotter, faster, and cleaner. Supporting the wood on a perforated steel log grate also improves air circulation and reduces smoking.

    Benefits of Using a Smokeless Fire Pit

    There are several key reasons you might want to choose a smokeless fire pit rather than a traditional wood-burning one:

    Enjoy the Fire Without Irritating Smoke

    The main benefit of a smokeless fire pit is right there in the name - you get to enjoy a beautiful real wood fire with less smoke. No more stinging eyes or smelling like a campfire for days afterward. This makes smokeless fire pits ideal for urban and suburban areas where excess smoke could bother neighbors.

    Reduce Health Risks from Smoke

    Breathing in smoke from open fires can irritate lungs and aggravate conditions like asthma. Smoke contains small particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and other compounds that are unhealthy to ingest. Smokeless fire pits help minimize contact with these pollutants.

    Stay Warmer with Better Heat Efficiency

    Less smoke means more heat energy stays trapped in the fire chamber. Smokeless fire pits burn hotter while using less fuel. The convection airflow also causes heat to rise and radiate outwards from the entire pit surface, helping warm your seating area.

    Use During Burn Bans

    Many areas prohibit open burning during dry conditions to reduce fire hazards. But smokeless fire pits often qualify as cooking devices, which are exempt. So you can still enjoy backyard fires even when general burning is banned. Just check your local ordinances first.

    Portability for Camping and Patios

    Smokeless fire pit models range from compact, portable sizes to larger permanent backyard installations. Their efficient burn means you can enjoy smoke-free warmth anywhere from RVs to high-rise patios.

    Fun Gathering Spot with Less Smoke Smell

    The ambiance of an evening fire brings people together. But lingering campfire smell in clothes and hair can be undesirable. Smokeless technology lets everyone socialize around the vibrant flame without being smoked out.

    a side by side image of a traditional fire pit and a smokeless fire pit

    Smokeless vs. Traditional Fire Pits Compared

    If you're deciding between smokeless and conventional fire pits, here are some key comparisons to consider:

    • Smoke - This is the standout difference. Smokeless pits reduce smoke a lot. But they still produce some smoke, especially when starting/extinguishing the fire.

    • Heat Output - Smokeless models burn hotter but condense heat rather than radiating widely like traditional pits. You may need to sit closer to feel the warmth.

    • Fuel Efficiency - Less smoke means the fire converts more wood fully to energy. Smokeless pits use less fuel for the same heat duration.

    • Cost - Smokeless fire pits range from $200 to $600 while basic traditional ones cost between $50 and $300. The advanced design comes at a price.

    • Emissions - Smokeless technology cuts down on harmful emissions, making it better for the environment.

    • Aesthetics - Traditional pits have a rugged, rustic vibe while smokeless models look more sleek and contemporary. It's about personal style.

    Smokeless Traditional
    Smoke Production Less smoke More smoke
    Heat Output Hotter fire, less radiation Lower temp, more radiation
    Fuel Efficiency Uses less wood overall Uses more wood
    Cost $$$-$$$$ $-$$
    Emissions Fewer harmful particulates Higher emissions
    Aesthetics Sleek and contemporary Rustic campfire feel

    For urban or suburban areas where smoke is a concern, smokeless models are likely the better choice. In rural areas, traditional fire pits may be preferred for their cost and campfire ambiance.

    Pros and Cons of Smokeless Fire Pits

    Pros

    • No smoke blowing in your face
    • Allows having a fire during burn bans
    • Less cleanup from minimal ash
    • Fuel and cost efficient
    • Attractive flame visibility
    • Portable for camping or moving around the yard
    • Healthier air quality with less emissions

    Cons

    • More expensive upfront cost than basic fire pits
    • Smaller capacity than massive traditional pits
    • May not get hot enough for cooking
    • Not as nostalgic as an open campfire

    As with any product, smokeless fire pits come with pluses and minuses to weigh based on your needs. For many homeowners, the benefits of reduced smoke and healthier fires make smokeless models well worth the investment.

    Is a Smokeless Fire Pit Right for You?

    Here are some things to think about when deciding if a smokeless fire pit is the right choice for your needs:

    • Do you want to enjoy a fire pit regularly but find smoke irritating? Smokeless technology can create a smoke-free outdoor experience.

    • Is your outdoor living space in a smoke-sensitive area? Smokeless pits allow having fires where traditional fire pits aren’t permitted.

    • Are you willing to pay more upfront for a unit you’ll use frequently? The benefits can provide great value over time.

    • Do you need massive capacity for huge bonfires? Smokeless models have size limitations so you can prefer traditional ones.

    • Do you prioritize portability for camping trips or moving around your yard? Many smokeless fire pits are lightweight.

    • Does authentic wood fire ambiance matter most? Traditional wood-burning fire pits may provide a better campfire aesthetic.

    If you've decided a smokeless fire pit is the right choice for your backyard or patio, the next step is selecting the best model for your needs and budget. Be sure to consult our detailed fire pit buying guide for advice on choosing the right size, features, and options before purchasing your new smokeless fire pit.

    an image of a round steel fire pit with people sitting in the background

    Conclusion

    Smokeless fire pits use innovative airflow technology to burn wood and solid fuels with less smoke than usual. Key design features like an insulated double wall, vents, and grated fuel support allow oxygen to ignite rising smoke particulates through secondary combustion. This advanced incineration leaves minimal smoke emissions and maximizes heating efficiency. While pricier than basic fire pits, for urban areas or health concerns, they can be a worthy investment to gain the beauty of a crackling backyard fire with barely any smoke.

    FAQs

    Can smokeless fire pits be used for cooking?

    Yes, smokeless fire pits are versatile and often come with an accessory like a BBQ grate for fire pit. The Breeo, for instance, is well-suited for a campfire cookout or tailgate barbecue. The amount of smoke generated is so minimal you’ll hardly notice it, ensuring your food doesn't taste excessively smokey.

    Does the smokeless fire pit require a significant amount of fuel?

    No, one of the advantages of a smokeless fire pit’s unique design is that it requires less fuel than a regular fire. The design promotes better air, allowing the firewood to burn more completely and efficiently.

    Are smokeless fire pits safe?

    Yes, smokeless fire pits are safe when used properly. Their unique design reduces the risk of sparks flying out, and the double-walled construction ensures the outer ring of the fire pit remains cooler, reducing the risk of accidental burns.

    Does a smokeless fire pit still give off heat as a regular fire does?

    Absolutely. Smokeless fire pits give off heat just as a regular fire would. Thanks to the complete combustion process, they can actually produce a hotter, more consistent heat, making them perfect for sitting around on a cool evening.

    Can I convert my existing wood fire pit to a smokeless one?

    Yes, you can upgrade your existing wood fire pit to become smokeless by adding a fire pit insert. The insert works by improving the airflow which aids in the combustion process, effectively reducing the amount of smoke produced. If you’re looking to convert your pit, make sure you’ve chosen an insert that fits your current pit size.

    Do smokeless fire pits work with fuels other than wood?

    While wood is the most commonly used fuel, some smokeless fire pits are designed to work with other fuels like propane. Propane burns very efficiently and produces virtually no smoke. However, using different fuels may require specific accessories or features, so it's best to check with the manufacturer's specifications.

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    About The Author

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

    As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

    His main focus is on sheds and generators!

    In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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