Best Materials to Burn in a Fire Pit

A fire pit is a great addition to any outdoor living space. Not only does it provide warmth and ambiance, but it’s also an excellent way to cook food on the grill. Though you may have your own personal preference for what type of wood you want to burn in your fireplace, there are some materials that will help create a smoky smell without leaving soot or ash behind.

The “what to burn in fire pit to keep mosquitoes away” is a question that many people have. The best materials to burn in a fire pit are wood, dry leaves, and charcoal.

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For your outdoor paradise, a fire pit is a must-have. A fire pit is a simple addition to your backyard that can provide a lot of fun, but you must consider the types of materials you want to burn in it.

So, which materials are the greatest for a fire pit? 

Wood is the greatest material to burn in your outdoor fire pit, such as: 


  • Pinion tree
  • Alder
  • Cedar
  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Mesquite
  • Pecan
  • Apple and cherry trees are examples of fruit trees.

Pressure-treated wood should never be burned in a fire pit or fireplace because it may contain dangerous pollutants. 

Although you can burn a variety of various types of wood in a fire pit, each wood has its own qualities that you should consider when choosing the ideal wood for you. Continue reading to learn everything there is to know about the various types of wood that can be used in your fire pit.


Contents Table of Contents

  • What Kinds of Things Can You Burn in Your Fire Pit?
  • Wood Pellets are a greener alternative to burning wood in a fire pit. 
  • How to Light a Fire: 
  • Wood Bricks are another greener alternative to burning wood in a fire pit.
  • Avoid Burning Materials in Your Fire Pit
  • Consider a gas fire pit.
  • A Chimenea, perhaps?
  • Is a Chiminea or a Fire Pit Better?
  • Prior to Using a Fire Pit


What Kinds of Things Can You Burn in Your Fire Pit?

The best materials to burn in your fire pit will always be the old standby…wood.  And which wood depends on your needs at the time. Pinion tree will repel the mosquitos.  Apple, cherry, and pecan woods give off a pleasant scent when burned. While oak, hickory, and mesquite burn well and generate a lot of heat. If you’re cooking over your fire pit, you can use charcoal as well.

  • Pinion tree: This is a dense, slow-growing hardwood pine found in the mountains of the southwest United States.  Pinion tree is a natural mosquito repellant, and it has a smoky pine fragrance.
  • Alder is a deciduous hardwood tree that can be found throughout North America’s west coast. Alder is well-known for making excellent charcoal.  

Before you attempt to burn alder, make sure it has been seasoned and that it is not moist. Wet alder produces a lot of ash and smokes a lot. Seasoned alder firewood burns quickly yet produces a hot, coal-rich fire.


  • Cedar is a softwood with a lot of natural resin. Resin-rich wood burns hot and sometimes erupts into sparks or flaming wood fragments because resin is highly flammable. Cedar will produce intense flames for a short time before dying rapidly and with little coaling properties.

Cedar does not generate constant heat. If you combine cedar with hardwoods in tiny proportions, you will get a continuous burn with a lot of heat.

  • Oak is a solid hardwood with a high energy content per cord, releasing more heat each firebox load. Long-lasting flames and coal beds will also result. Oak trees thrive in both temperate and tropical climates and can be found in Asia and North America. 
  • Hickory: One of the most popular woods for fire pits is hickory. It burns hotter than oak and most other hardwoods. It’s one of the most durable woods found in the United States. 
  • Mesquite firewood burns cleanly and produces very few sparks. It burns hot coals that endure a long time. Mesquite trees are found predominantly in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
  • Pecan: Pecan trees can be found in southern Illinois and Indiana, as well as much of the southern United States between Kentucky and Texas. Pecan wood may not produce as much heat as other woods, but when burned, it emits a nice pecan nut and vanilla aroma.
  • Cherry Wood: Cherry wood emits modest heat, although it, like some of the other woods on this list, is prone to sparking. When burned, it emits a lovely aroma.
  • Apple wood is more difficult to fire and maintain than any other wood. If you do succeed, though, it burns slowly and for a long period. You’ll be rewarded with a sweet, smokey smell as well.

Wood Pellets are a greener alternative to burning wood in a fire pit. 

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of burning firewood, consider Brian Grady’s idea. Grady invented “Fire Logs,” miniature steel baskets the size of logs that can withstand temperatures of up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit and are meant to burn wood pellets. Wood pellets may be burned in fire pits thanks to Fire Logs, which provide a means for them to burn while also allowing for optimum air flow.

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Small pellets manufactured from compressed, kiln-dried wood fibers provide a number of advantages over firewood. 

Insects and diseases that harm trees can hide in or on firewood. These insects and diseases can’t travel very far on their own, but they can jump hundreds of miles when people carry firewood. New infestations devastate our woods and property values, and their control costs a fortune.

The most significant environmental and logistical benefit of kiln dried wood fibers is that they are lightweight and, unlike conventional firewood, can be legally and practically transferred anywhere. People can feel free to take wood pellets wherever they need them because they are devoid of invasive pests. 

Another benefit of wood pellets is that they come in a dry packaging and ignite quickly. You could argue that they’re also more convenient to use than traditional firewood, though the 40-pound bags in which pellets are typically sold may or may not be easier to transport than logs for some people. 

How to Light a Fire: 

  1. Pull the three fire logs apart from one another to unpack them. 
  2. Fill each empty fire log with pellets, not worrying about small quantities falling through or completely filling the logs. 
  3. Place the Fire Logs in a pattern on the supports that came with your Repose Fire Log Package, allowing for air flow around the Logs.
  4. To start the fire, place a fire starter or a balled-up clump of newspapers under the Logs. When ready, light the fireplace lighter; a longer fireplace lighter is preferred for this stage to avoid reaching too far beneath the source of the fire. 
  5. Allow the fire to begin to burn. As previously said, the wood pellets should start burning shortly. 
  6. A metal rod or thick piece of stick can also be handy for moving the fire logs once they have started fire. You can also burn one or two logs at a time then add the reserved log once the fire has died down. Remove logs from the fire using your selected metal rod or limb tool and set them aside to cool. Then, to extend the time spent ablaze, you can replenish a burned-out fire log and place it back on the fire.
  7. Allowing a fire to burn down naturally is ideal, but make sure you leave enough time for the Fire Logs to cool. Remember that Fire Logs can endure temperatures up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore a fire log may be really hot despite its appearance. Fortunately, Fire Logs cool down rapidly. 
  8. Another benefit of pellets is that they burn completely in Fire Logs, leaving minimal ash and no coals to cause unattended fire dangers. Traditional campfires leave behind enormous coals that might take hours, if not days, to cool off. 
  9. The remaining ash from the Logs can be shook out of the bottom and stored for storage or reuse with minimum cleaning. After continuous use, fire logs will take on a deeper, soot-like hue. This is neither harmful to the logs or the wood pellets that have been placed inside of them. To remove “soot,” they can be cleaned with soap and water. 

Wood Bricks are another greener alternative to burning wood in a fire pit.

Wood bricks are constructed of recycled wood chips and sawdust and are also made of kiln-dried wood. They provide more heat than logs and are consistently lower moisture, cleaner burning, and high quality. BioBricks and BTU Bricks are two of the most popular wood brick brands.

Wood Bricks, like pellets, are significantly lighter than firewood. In terms of heat generation, one pound of bricks is equivalent to 1.7 pounds of normal firewood. This incredible efficiency would give you 70% more space in a room for the same amount of heating fuel, so if bulk fuel saving is something you enjoy, this device is worth considering. Wooden bricks can also be taken camping. 

“Cord wood comes in large, little, moist, and dry bits, and not all of it burns at the same temperature or emits the same amount of heat,” says the author.

-Biomass Magazine Interview with Tom Engel on Cord Wood Inefficiency

Wood Bricks are, in general, easier to work with than conventional logs, are far more environmentally friendly, are free of chemicals and insects, are safe for camping, provide more heat than most firewood, burn more efficiently, and contain far less moisture than most firewood. 

Finally, Wood Bricks are much easier to deal with than wood pellets because they are considerably less likely to make a mess and can be used in any fire pit without difficulty. Wood bricks are also more adaptable than wood pellets since they can be burned in a traditional wood stove, whereas pellets cannot. 

Pellet stoves are required to burn and heat pellets. Many people find these annoying because they cost money to operate and require a lot of maintenance. The ash pans, as well as the stove’s vents and exhausts, must be emptied and cleaned on a regular basis. Wood bricks appear to be a superior solution for this reason, as well as the added step of burning wood pellets over a fire pit. 

If you’re interested in learning more about buying wood bricks, go here. If you’re looking for a price or want to try out some wood bricks, here are a couple Amazon possibilities. 

Avoid Burning Materials in Your Fire Pit

Be cautious about the materials you burn in your fire pit for your own and your family’s safety. The majority of fire pits are solely meant to burn wood or gas. Remember this while choosing materials to burn and determining whether backyard fire pits are legal.

The following materials should never be burned in a fire pit:

  • Pressure-treated wood is treated with a range of chemicals, some of which are more hazardous than others. It is not a good idea to burn this wood in your fire pit.
  • Plastics: When plastic is burned, harmful chemicals and gases are released into the atmosphere. Toxins are harmful to both humans and the environment. Burning plastic also produces unpleasant scents.
  • Accelerants are too unpredictable and can produce explosions, such as gas or other flammable liquids. Instead, learn to build a fire using dry kindling.
  • Magazines, junk mail, and wrapping paper should not be burned. When the ink on the paper is burned, poisonous vapors are released. That’s not something you want to breathe into your lungs.
  • Green Wood: Because it still has a lot of moisture in it, you should avoid burning freshly cut wood. It will not burn well, if at all, and will produce a large amount of smoke.

Consider a gas fire pit.

Only gas should be used in a gas fire pit. It is never a good idea to burn wood in a gas fire pit since it can harm the fire pit.

Your gas fire pit can be enhanced with lava rocks, glass beads, and particular stones. Lava rock and glass beads are also effective at dispersing and breaking up the flames.

Any glass, rock, or stone that is not specifically designed for use in a fire pit is hazardous. When rocks, glass, or stones are heated to extremely high temperatures, they can explode, posing a serious threat.

These materials can also retain heat long after the fire in the fire pit has died out. After the fire has been extinguished, be cautious around the stone.

A Chimenea, perhaps?

Chimeneas are Mexican-style heaters that were initially used for home heating and cooking indoors. Chimeneas are increasingly utilized to heat outdoor areas on occasion.

They resemble an outdoor fireplace in that they only have one opening through which you can access the fire, rather than the 360-degree access provided by fire pits.

A fire clay chimenea, cast iron, or steel and cast iron chimenea are the three most common forms. They can all burn a variety of materials.

  • Only dry wood should be burned in a fire clay chimenea. 
  • Wood, charcoal, and coal can all be burned in a cast-iron chimenea.
  • A steel chimenea is a fireplace that burns wood, charcoal, and coal.  

Is a Chiminea or a Fire Pit Better?

On a chilly autumn evening, both a chiminea and a fire pit will provide warmth, but they will provide different experiences. There are safety concerns, space constraints, and personal preferences to consider.


Because both the chiminea and the fire pit include fire, there is always a risk while using them. The fire of a chiminea is more controlled than that of a fire pit, making it a better option for use around children and pets.

If you primarily entertain adults and want to create a campfire environment, the fire pit is the way to go, as most people are aware of how to safely use a fire pit. 

Size Does Matter

Chimineas are available in a range of sizes and may fit into tight areas. A chiminea is the greatest option if you don’t have a lot of area to work with or want to party on your patio.


A fire pit may upset you or a visitor if you or they are sensitive to smoke, though sitting upwind of the smoke usually helps. A chiminea operates similarly to a chimney in that the smoke is directed upward and away rather than scattered around you.

Prior to Using a Fire Pit

Prior to Using a Fire Pit, you must check the building codes where you live to get the proper specifications and regulations. Some areas do not allow the use of fire pits in residential areas, and others have special regulations you must follow. Read our Are Backyard Fire pits legal to find out how to know if your fire pit is allowed in your area.

Place your fire pit far away from your house, low-hanging trees, and other structures for safety. If you’re digging the hole, make sure you don’t touch any underground utility wires by calling your local utility company.


The “what wood not to burn in fire pit” is a question that is often asked. There are many different types of woods that can be used for the purpose, but some should not be burned for safety reasons.

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