There is nothing like enjoying our outdoor space, especially if you have an garden bar. Entertaining friends and having a few drinks outside is a wonderful thing. On cooler days or chilly evenings, what better addition to this outdoor area is better than a fire pit? It sounds good, it looks good and it feels good. However it is not so good when you and your guests get covered in smoke. So what can you burn in a fire pit without smoking?
Apart from breathing in all that smoke and it getting in your eyes, it also gets all over your clothes. Your guest will go home smelling of smoke and will not return in a hurry. A smoking fire pit can turn your outside area into a no go zone.
What Can You Burn In A Fire Pit Without Smoking?
It is easy to be tempted to burn anything in your fire pit. Rubbish, leaves and green wood, as well as wood with too much moisture. All will help create smoke and make for an unpleasant fire pit experience. But if you burn dry wood and the right wood, you will cut down the amount of smoke created. Hardwoods are best, like oak, birch, cedar, beech or cherry. They burn longer than softwoods and produce less smoke.
The three main things to keep down the smoke are dry wood, the right wood and good airflow for your fire.
How Do You Light A Fire Pit?
Now you don’t have to be Crocodile Dundee or Bear Grylls to light a fire pit. It is an easy task if you set it up right from the outset. But before you even contemplate lighting a fire pit there are several things to take into consideration. Make sure your fire pit is safe before you light it.
What Are Some Fire Pit Safety Tips?
To keep you, your family and friends safe, as well as your property and your neighbours, follow a few rules first. This is important for every time you decide to use your fire pit.
- Make sure your fire pit is a safe distance from your house, fences or any other combustible material. A minimum distance of 10 feet, or just over 3 metres is a good distance.
- Make sure your fire pit is on a solid stable base and can’t topple over.
- Check the wind direction and never use your fire pit on a windy day.
- Always have a way to put out the fire. Keep a bucket of water nearby, a fire blanket is also good to have.
- Keep children and pets away from the fire pit.
- Sit a safe distance from the fire pit, don’t let anyone get too close.
- Never use flammable liquids such a gasoline to start your fire.
- Never leave an open fire unattended.
These are just a guide, it is a good idea to visit your local fire service, they will always be able to advise on the safety of outdoor fires.
Lighting Your Fire Pit
Once you know your fire pit is safe, it is time to gather your materials and get lighting. First it is a good idea to make sure your fire pit is clean. Second gather some small combustible material, like small dry sticks or twigs. Thin dry pieces of wood and even wood shavings, anything that will light easily.
Build your fire by arranging two dry logs parallel with a decent gap in between. Then lay two more parallel logs on top adjacent to the two below, bridging them. Finally lay two more on top in the original direction, this should create a hollow square in the middle.
Now lay your small combustible material (tinder and kindling) in the hollow square in the middle. Using a long lighter or long match light your kindling. You will soon be enjoying a warm fire with those mesmerizing flames.
Alternatively you can arrange the kindling first and when lit put your logs around it in a pyramid shape. This video shows this option.
Is It Possible To Have A Smokeless Fire Pit
Any wood burning fire pit will give off some smoke. If you use the right wood that is well seasoned and build your fire well, then smoke is minimal. However, you will never eliminate all smoke, or can you?
Design has become more sophisticated and there have been many smokeless wood burning fire pits come on to the market. Do they work? For starters they may have the word ‘smokeless’ in the title of the product, but it’s misleading.
Double walls are the design of the day, allowing better air flow and second burning the fuel. This creates more flame and less smoke. Notice it produces less smoke, but not no smoke.
So while modern designs can almost cut out smoke, they can’t completely eliminate it.
Which Type Of Fire Pit Is Best?
There a few different types of fire pit that are worth considering before you take the plunge. Personal preference is the decider when it comes to your final pick.
Wood Burning Fire Pit
This is the one we have already been talking about, the good old wood burning fire pit. It gives that camp fire feel with crackling wood, a good amount of heat and hypnotic flames. But there are a few things to take into account. As lovely as it sounds, a wood burning fire pit does take some effort.
You need a good stock of seasoned wood, and a place to store that dry wood to keep it dry. If your wood has to much moisture content then it will be hard to get your fire started. It will also produce more smoke too. Also you need to empty and clean your fire pit after each use to keep it working well.
It is seen as the best option for most people and also the truest form of fire pit.
Gel Fuel Fire Pit
These are mainly used for small table top fire pits and use a gel fuel normally inside a can. Apparently you can get larger fuel gel fire pits, but they are not easy to come by.
It’s a clean way to have a fire feature, but although they do give off heat, it is not anywhere near a wood burning fire pit. Also there are gel fuel logs available, but again hard to find. These conceal the gel within the log to give the fire a more natural look.
These are perfect if you want a small table top fire pit.
Propane Fire Pit
A perfect convenient fire pit with low maintenance. The propane fire pits come in all shapes and sizes, are fairly cheap to run and make less mess, with zero cleaning up. On top of that they do not produce the smoke that wood can produce, yet still give off a nice heat.
Because a propane unit has to house a propane tank many designs tend to be larger in size. There are some traditional bowl style pits which will only hold a small gas bottle. A lot of designs are taller and some look like tables with the fire pit in the middle. The propane tank is housed inside the unit.
The advantage of the propane models is you have complete control. Instant fire and controls for fire intensity, plus the fire can be switched off immediately. There is the same argument with the propane fire pit as there is with the propane BBQ.
In spite of this, they are a good clean and efficient way of enjoying a fire pit.
Unless you use an alternative fire pit to a wood burning one, then a smokeless f ire pit is impossible. However we can minimize the amount of smoke our pit produces as long as we follow a few rules. The moisture content in wood is important, if it’s too high, then it will smoke more as it burns.
Well seasoned wood will burn with less smoke, and hardwood will also produce less smoke than softwood. Stick to this and don’t be tempted to throw rubbish or debris on the fire, as these can also produce more smoke. Also it is not a good idea to use wood that has been manufactured for construction. These woods can contain glues and other toxic materials, not a good thing to be burning.
The main thing is to enjoy your fire pit and burn good clean wood, or of course go for the propane option. Just remember to do it safely.