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How To Reduce Fire Pit Smoke (The Right Way)

We all love the smell of a bonfire, but many people don’t realize that fire pits are also incredibly dangerous smoke sources. Here’s how to reduce your home’s wildfire risk in four easy steps.

Today we will be discussing how to reduce the smoke from a fire pit. The “how to divert smoke from fire pit” is a process that can be done in many different ways.

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Consider the following scenario: you’re sitting around a campfire with your pals, having a good time. The wind changes direction abruptly, filling your face with smoke and causing a harsh, burning feeling in your eyes and throat. 

If this sounds all too familiar, there are a few simple actions you can do to lessen the quantity of smoke produced by your fire pit. Excess smoke may be caused by a variety of factors, including the sort of wood you use, how you arrange your logs, and even how clean your fire pit is. 

How-To-Reduce-Fire-Pit-Smoke-The-Right-Way

Contents Table of Contents

 

  • How Can I Make My Fire Pit Smoke Less?
  • What You Shouldn’t Put In A Fire
  • Should I Invest in a Non-Smoking Fire Pit?
  • What Causes Wood to Smoke?
  • The Dangers of Smoking
  • Last Thoughts

How Can I Make My Fire Pit Smoke Less?

A fire pit is a fantastic location to meet, which is why it’s crucial to ensure that no one is smoked like a piece of meat. Taking the appropriate steps to decrease the quantity of smoke created by your fire pit is a simple method to keep everyone comfortable while still producing a good fire. 

Choose the Correct Wood

The greatest items to burn in your fire pit have been discussed. Furthermore, if at all feasible, you should use hardwood rather than softwood since hardwoods are often denser and, as a consequence, burn longer and reach greater temperatures than softwood. The following are some examples of common hardwoods:

  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Hickory
  • Birch
  • Beech
  • Ash

Softwoods may be burnt, although it is not recommended. Softwoods, such as pine, spruce, and redwood, are evergreen trees that contain a lot more sap than hardwoods. Sap is an organic chemical that is produced by the section of the tree that emits smoke. Softwoods are also less dense than hardwoods. The high amount of space between the fibers in the wood allows for more airflow and, as a result, a quicker time to combust, which also means they burn for less time. 

Make sure the wood you use in your fire pit has been chopped, split, and dried before using it. When it comes to drying fresh-cut wood, there are two main approaches. They are as follows:

  1. Seasoning – Between six months and a few years, wood is permitted to air dry outside, and it is only seasoned after it has reached an appropriate moisture level.
  2. Kiln-drying — when wood is roasted in an oven for a few hours to a few days until it achieves an appropriate moisture level, it is referred to as kiln-drying.

Both seasoned and kiln-dried timbers should have a moisture content of less than 20%, therefore none has a distinct advantage over the other for usage in a fire pit. It’s also crucial to keep any wood you buy dry until you use it. You may purchase a moisture meter to confirm that your wood is dry enough. 

 

What Is Green Wood and What Does It Mean?

Green wood has a moisture content that is higher than what is considered acceptable, usually between 30 and 40 percent. This makes it harder for the wood to burn, resulting in a large amount of smoke. The enormous quantity of water in the wood requires a lot more energy to burn off than wood that has been thoroughly dried.

If at all possible, avoid using green wood in your fire pit. Follow these strategies to limit the quantity of smoke created while burning green wood.

  1. Burn green wood outside in a well-ventilated location.
  2. Small pieces of wood should be cut and mixed with dry kindling.
  3. Fill the fire pit halfway with this mixture, stacking the pieces to allow for ventilation. The more air that can reach a piece of wood, the hotter it will burn and, as a result, the faster it will dry up.
  4. Keep your distance from the fire until the majority of the smoke and popping noises have subsided. 

Is it Possible for Me to Dry My Own Wood?

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You may be wondering how to properly prepare that troublesome tree in your garden for use in a fire pit if you’ve just cut it down. 

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At home, you may season and kiln-dry wood. Seasoning takes significantly longer but is less hands-on, but kiln-drying is much more labor-intensive and necessitates the use of specialized equipment and buildings. As a result, we advocate seasoning wood at home, however individuals with a DIY attitude may appreciate kiln-drying. 

To season wood, follow these steps:
  1. Split the wood into manageable pieces.
  2. Stack them on an elevated, vented surface (a wood palette works well for this), with enough space between them for air to circulate.
  3. To keep the pile from becoming wet, cover it with a tarp.
  4. Before you use it, wait six months to a year. 

How Do You Know If Your Wood Is Dry Enough?

Even if you’re using the wood in an outdoor fire pit, you should search for wood that can be used inside as well since it won’t smoke or will smoke very little. There are a few fundamental differences between fresh wood and dried wood when comparing the two. 

In general, look for dry wood that possesses the following characteristics:

  • For its size, it has a light hue and weight.
  • Bark that isn’t tightly bound
  • Cracks
  • Aroma deficiency
  • When two pieces are glued together, it makes a hollow cracking sound.

Build Your Fire Properly to Cut Down on Smoke

Creating a framework that allows for proper airflow is the key to nurturing a wonderful fire. If you ask 10 different individuals how to accomplish anything, you’ll probably get ten different responses. Although constructing a fire is not an exact science, there are a few fundamental ideas to remember. 

Three things are required to start a fire: 

  • Combustion requires oxygen.
  • Heat is used to get the temperature up to the ignition point.
  • To drive the chemical process, you’ll need fuel.

These are airflow, a lighter/matches, and wood, respectively, in the setting of a fire pit. Any fire will go out if any of these three are removed. Because you’ll almost certainly have enough wood and matches for your fire, ensuring that it gets enough airflow is critical to ensure that your wood gets enough oxygen to ignite with little smoke. 

Kindling or Tinder?

A fire burns three kinds of fuel in that order: tinder, kindling, and wood. Tinder is any substance that burns rapidly and readily, and it is what ‘jump starts’ the fire. 

Here are some tinder examples:

  • Grass that has dried out
  • Pine needles that have been dried
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper

Make sure you have enough kindling nearby to maintain the flame if you fire any tinder. Kindling is made of of bigger components that, although easier to ignite, stay lit for a longer period of time than tinder.

Here are a few examples of kindling:

  • twigs of various sizes
  • Leaves that have been dried
  • Bark

After gathering your tinder and kindling, lay it in the middle of your fire pit to start your fire. Create a structure using your wood as the last stage before igniting your fire. You may build any structure you like as long as there is adequate space between the wood pieces for optimal ventilation. 

Reduce Smoke by Creating an Optimal Campfire Structure

The following are examples of common campfire structures:

  • Tipi – Arrange your wood to resemble a Native American tipi, complete with tinder and kindling in the middle. This technique is ideal for swiftly and evenly creating big, bonfire-like flames.
  • Lean-To — Depending on the size of the logs, stack two to three thick logs horizontally and lean longer, thinner pieces up against them. The structure’s side profile should resemble a right triangle. In windy or moist situations, this arrangement is preferred since the kindling you lay within is protected from the elements. 
  • Star – Lay five pieces of wood flat in the form of a star, with the kindling in the center of the star where all five pieces meet. This will create a slow-burning, outward-burning fire, perfect for outdoor fire pits. 
  • Log Cabin – Inspired by our 16th president’s boyhood home, this design involves stacking logs two at a time, with each layer facing forward or sideways, and kindling in the middle.  
  • Tim Ferriss’ article on designing the cleanest fire structure popularized Upside Down Fire.

Do you want to see a video?

If you’d like to watch a movie comparing various campfire constructions and determining which one works best, let us know in the comments below.

You may discover that some debris remains after extinguishing your fire. Cleaning this out on a regular basis is recommended, since a buildup of ash and embers may have a detrimental influence on future fires.

These substances do not ignite. As a result, they’ll lengthen the time it takes for other materials to heat up to the point of ignite, resulting in a longer period of smoke production. 

What You Shouldn’t Put In A Fire

A fire needs various materials as fuel at each stage, such as tinder, kindling, and wood. For example, you shouldn’t add tinder to a fire that’s already burning through the wood, and if you do, your fire will smoke more than you want. So, after you’ve got that ideal fire going, stay away from stuff like:

  • Leaves
  • Clippings of Grass
  • Pine Grass
  • Paper

These following items, in addition to creating a lot of smoke, should never, ever be used in a fire. They produce hazardous fumes that are damaging to both you and the environment, and some of them are banned to burn according to various fire pit legislation.

Never, ever, ever burn:

  • Plastic
  • Magazines
  • Pallets made of wood
  • Particleboard is a kind of particleboard (used in inexpensive furniture)
  • Wood that has been painted
  • Cardboard
  • Trash
  • wood that has been pressure treated

Should I Invest in a Non-Smoking Fire Pit?

A smokeless fire pit is a terrific way to avoid the difficulties of setting up a typical fire pit. There are several huge smokeless fire pits designed exclusively for use in the backyard. 

The ability to perfectly manage airflow and temperature is their secret, thereby eliminating all of the issues that cause smoke in conventional fire pits. Furthermore, smokeless fire pits offer a considerably higher fuel-to-heat ratio, which means you won’t have to burn a whole tree every time everyone wants to congregate around the fire. 

Some people even use propane or natural gas instead of wood, however you may miss the pleasure of the warm crackling sound that comes with burning wood.

The following are some of the finest smokeless fire pits:

  • 23.5 Inch Dragonfire
  • 401 Series by Outland Living
  • Stove Bonfire Fire Pit by Esright
  • We have the Yukon version of the Solostove Fire Pit, and we adore it!

A portable fire pit may be a terrific method to rapidly put up a fire no matter where you are if you find yourself building flames wherever you go. There are some that are essentially simply a container for your wood pieces, while others include features that prevent all smoke from your fire, saving you time and work during setup. Those who already have a fire pit at home and don’t intend to go camping won’t profit from a portable fire pit, but those who desire the ease of setting up a fire on the move should consider one. 

The Snow Peak Fireplace is a barebones aluminum structure, while the smokeless Outland Firebowl Premium is a luxury rapid-burning, smokeless, Bluetooth-controlled BioLite FirePit and Grill is a luxury rapid-burning, smokeless, Bluetooth-controlled BioLite FirePit and Grill is a luxury rapid-burning, smokeless, Bluetooth-controlled BioLite FirePit and Grill is a luxury rapid-burning, smokeless, Bluetooth-controlled BioLite FirePit and Grill

What Causes Wood to Smoke?

There are four main components that make up wood:

  • Water
  • Organic substances that are volatile
  • Carbon
  • Ash

With the exception of ash, all of these will burn in a fire. Water vapor and carbon dioxide are created when water and carbon are heated in the presence of oxygen. Both are gases, but since they are invisible to the naked sight, they can’t be the source of your fire’s smoke.  

So, what are these Organic substances that are volatile? They constitute the hydrocarbons and carbohydrates within the tree that sustain its life. Hydrocarbons are comprised of solely hydrogen and carbon, while carbohydrates also include oxygen. These compounds are volatile, which means that they evaporate when heated. 

This is the visible smoke that comes from a fire that has reached a temperature of about 300°F (149°C). If the temperature continues to rise, these molecules will finally burn and stop producing smoke. 

Charcoal does not smoke because of this phenomena. Wood is roasted at very high temperatures without the presence of oxygen to make charcoal. All of the organic chemicals are burnt away in the process, but the carbon in the wood stays as charcoal since there is no oxygen to react with and produce carbon dioxide. When you use it to make a BBQ, the carbon may combine with oxygen to create a flame. 

Because the temperature is not high enough to immediately burn these compounds, the majority of fire pit smoke is created during the early phases of the fire. Once you’ve got your fire going, you should notice that adding more wood to the pile doesn’t produce much smoke, if any at all. Smoking happens only when the fresh material reaches a combustible temperature, hence the hotter the fire, the faster it happens. 

The Dangers of Smoking

Inhaling smoke from your fire pit is not only unpleasant, but it may also be harmful to your health since it includes a variety of harmful substances. These are some of them:

  • Carbon monoxide – causes dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and, at high enough concentrations, unconsciousness or death; also present in cigarette smoke.
  • Sulfur dioxide irritates the membranes of the lungs, causing coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and/or chest tightness.
  • Coughing/choking, nausea, headaches, trouble breathing, and stomach discomfort are among signs of nitrogen oxide exposure.
  • Fine particles – fine particles may lodge deep inside the lungs and might be absorbed into the circulation, causing future difficulties.

Inhaling wood smoke puts those with pre-existing respiratory diseases, such as asthma, at an even greater risk of harm. This isn’t designed to intimidate you; rather, it’s meant to emphasize how critical it is to keep the amount of smoke created by your fire to a minimum. 

Last Thoughts

Smoke is both a nuisance and a health issue, so taking the time and care to ensure that your fire pit creates the least amount of smoke possible is the best way to get the most enjoyment out of it. 

To summarize, use these four guidelines to dramatically minimize the amount of smoke produced by your fire pit:

  1. Only utilize hardwoods that have been kiln-dried or have been well-seasoned. When green wood is exposed to a flame, it retains too much moisture and will smoke until all of the moisture is removed. 
  2. Create a wood structure, such as a tipi or log home, that allows enough airflow to continue the exothermic process that raises the temperature of the wood to the point of combustion. The faster this happens, the less smoke will be generated. 
  3. Do not add any additional tinder or green vegetation, such as leaves or grass, after your wood has started to burn. Never burn plastic, rubbish, or anything containing ink since they emit harmful fumes in addition to dense smoke. 
  4. After each usage, clean up the debris from your fire pit. A buildup of ash and other debris in your fire pit may reduce its effectiveness, resulting in more smoke as the wood takes longer to heat up. 

Taking the time and care to correctly set up your fire saves not just smoke but also the amount of time you’ll have to spend later tending to the flames. Using the tinder to fire the kindling and the kindling to ignite the wood, build your blaze in stages. And before you know it, you’ll be staring into a warm, crackling, roaring, comforting fire. 

 

The “fire pit smoke nuisance” is a common problem. Many people are finding that their neighbors are complaining about the amount of smoke coming from their fire pits. This article will outline some ways to reduce the amount of smoke coming from your fire pit, and also provide some helpful tips.

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