Fire Pit Zone

Best Fuel For A Fire Pit: What Should You Use?


A fire pit is a great way to relax, enjoy company, and create memories with family. But what fuel should you use? Is hardwood the best option or will other fuel provide better results? In this blog post, we explore different firepit fuels, their benefits, and drawbacks as well as some suggestions for which firepit fuel is best for your needs.

Possible Fire Pit Fuel Sources

Hardwood Logs

Hardwood logs are good for firepits when you do not mind the smoke they produce and are not in an area that has a risk of forest fires. It is usually the most popular and common fuel that you can find in areas that are not high-risk areas. Some campgrounds and parks will also allow you to search and collect your own firewood from dead limbs that have fallen. Of course the drier the wood the less smoke they will omit. I was lucky enough to have a supply of old electrical pole cross arms. Hardwood doesn’t come much drier than that!!


firewood for fire pit

Firelogs are good for firepits when you do not have a lot of hardwood available and want to reduce the amount of smoke produced. they typically do not have the same smoke smell that a hardwood log has because they are held together with a binder. They will burn a long time though but without a lot of flames. Most logs can only be burned one log at a time so they are good for smaller fires and fire pits only.

Charcoal Briquettes or Lumps

Charcoal is best if you want an even fire with no fuss or mess, but it does produce more ash than other fuels. Two primary charcoal types exist: briquettes and lump charcoal. Briquettes consist of compressed sawdust and natural materials, while lump charcoal comprises untreated hardwood pieces. Lump charcoal burns hotter with less ash, but it also tends to be pricier than briquettes. Both can be difficult to start and do not produce much flame but if you are cooking over a fire, they are a great heat source that lasts a long time and not put out easily. You will need a fire starter to get them going. I find the tumbleweed style the best.

Tumbleweed Style Fire Starter for fire pits

Natural Gas Fire Pit

Natural gas fire pits are clean and easy to start. They produce a flame that is bigger, brighter with less smoke than hardwood or fire logs but they can be expensive to install and more difficult to maintain especially if you live in an area where the natural gas lines are not close by.

Propane Gas Fire Pit

Propane fire pits are also clean and easy to start. They produce a flame that is bigger, brighter with less smoke than hardwood or firelogs. Propane gas can be purchased at most home improvement stores and is not expensive to install.

Electric Fire Pit

An electric firepit is the cleanest fire pit fuel, producing no smoke at all. They are easy to start when they have an electric starter and can be used in any area where there is access to the power supply. They are the least realistic of fire pits because there is no real flame, but some kind of wavering visual or other types of simulated flame.

Electric fire pits are mostly used for recreational use or as an accent in your backyard, but it is possible that some people add them when building their homes because of their ease and cleanliness.

Gel Fire Fuel

A gel fuel fireplace uses canisters as a fuel source with an alcohol based fuel that you can easily light with a match. Gel is a safer source that stays contained inside the canister and can be snuffed out without any concern for the fire continuing. This is the fuel of choice for an ambient fire bowl not for a more robust fire pit scenario.

Gel Fuel Fire Pit

Fire Pit Wood Pellets

Firewood pellet pits produce a great flame with little odor or soot like hardwood logs. They are clean and easy to fire up. They do not produce a lot of smoke, but the flame is more yellow than other fire pits due to it being made out of compressed wood chips instead of logs. For more extensive information please see my Wood Pellet Fire Pit Review

Fuels you should not use in a fire pit include the following:

-lighter fluid or gasoline

-trash like papers or cardboard

-grass clippings

-wet products or wood as they will produce a lot of smoke

-Non-natural gas fuels like propane or diesel.

-Cooking oils and fats

-treated lumber


When choosing which fire pit fuel is best for you, it’s important to consider the fire pit size. If you have a fire pit in your backyard with plenty of space and want a fire that will last for hours at night, hardwood logs are best. But if you’re looking for a quick fire for cooking or warming up on chilly nights while camping then it is hard to beat either natural gas or a propane fire pit.

My personal favorite is a good seasoned or kiln-dried hardwood, though I have enjoyed some of my friend’s natural gas fire pits because of the consistent heat and lack of smoke they give out.

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