Fire Pit Zone

Smokeless Fire Pits

Understanding Smokeless Fire Pits: A Comprehensive Guide

What is a Smokeless Fire Pit

Because I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for being the “fire pit guy,” friends, family, and readers often ask me if I use a smokeless fire pit. They also want to know if they really work and if they’re worth the additional cost. 


“Well,” I’ll usually say, “I think any fire pit is better than no fire pit. But I think a smokeless fire pit is definitely the way to go.” 


They usually want more details at this point, which I’m more than happy to share. Just like I’ll do below for you, right now.

What Is a Smokeless Fire Pit?

A smokeless fire pit is essentially a normal fire pit that’s been outfitted with some nifty features to reduce the amount of smoke it produces. Typically, these features take the form of extra ventilation holes and “hidden” air spaces around the perimeter of the pit. Some also include a deflector that directs some of the heat toward the people sitting around it (more on that in a bit).

Just understand that you can’t always tell if a fire pit is a smokeless version or not at a glance. That’s because some models feature more obvious ventilation holes than others.  To see what I mean have a look at the Solo Stove range.

How Do Smokeless Fire Pits Work?

Let’s back up for a minute and talk about smoke. 


We all know that smoke is annoying. It burns your eyes, chokes the lungs, and leaves your clothes smelling bad. But what causes smoke in the first place?


Two words: incomplete combustion. 


Incomplete combustion simply refers to fires that aren’t 100% efficient. A 100% efficient fire would burn all of the wood (or whatever material you’re burning) and produce nothing but water vapor and carbon dioxide. 


But when fires don’t have enough oxygen or don’t burn hot enough, they release a bunch of unburned particles – that’s what smoke is. 


So, smokeless fire pits basically work by providing more oxygen to the fire and keeping some of the heat near the fire to make sure it stays super-hot. 


Different smokeless fire pit models do this in slightly different ways, but most do so by piping oxygen into the bottom of the fire and the top of the fire. In some cases, this is done by including hidden spaces around the perimeter of the fire, which funnel hot air and shoot it out right at the top of the fire. 


All of this extra heat and oxygen make the fire more efficient, which means that less smoke is produced.


Smokless Fire Pit by Solo Stove

Are There Different Kinds of Smokeless Fire Pits?

It bears mentioning that not all smokeless fire pits are created equal. Many work in slightly different ways. But one of the biggest differences between the models on the market relates to the type of fuel they’re designed to burn.

  • Smokeless Wood-Burning Fire Pit: Though it’s likely the most popular type of fire pit fuel, wood is also the fuel that’s most likely to create smoke. Really dry hardwood produces far less smoke than damp wood or softwoods, but even top-notch, dry-as-a-desert wood produces quite a bit of smoke. Fortunately, smokeless wood-burning fire pits help to reduce the amount of smoke produced by providing a ton more oxygen to the fire. This allows some of the incompletely burned byproducts to burn before they end up being smoke.
  • Smokeless Propane Fire Pit: Even when you don’t achieve complete combustion, propane burns more cleanly than wood. But when you fail to provide enough oxygen, even propane fires will produce smoke (which contains some nasty stuff in it, like carbon monoxide). Like smokeless fire pits designed to burn wood, those designed to burn propane provide more oxygen, which makes for more complete combustion.
  • Smokeless Gas Fire Pit: Fire pits that burn natural gas are inherently “cleaner” and produce less smoke than any other kind of fire pit. However, you still need to ensure the fire gets plenty of oxygen – incomplete combustion of natural gas still produces some smoke. Once again, fire pits designed to use natural gas can be made to produce less smoke if they come with features that provide more oxygen to the flame.

So, which type is best? Well, that depends on your wants and needs. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation.


Personally, I like the romance of a wood-burning fire pit, but you may prefer the convenience propane provides or the fact that natural gas produces less smoke from the start.  Considering the environment is important too. I’ve penned an article on this topic—feel free to give it a read! 


Just be sure to consider your needs before you make a choice. *** 


It isn’t absolutely necessary to go with a smokeless fire pit – especially if you’re working with a tight budget. I’d rather deal with a little smoke than have no fire pit at all! 


But if you’ve read down this far, you probably understand the value a smoke-free fire pit provides. So, I’d encourage you to give one a try – you’ll be glad you opted for a smokeless fire pit while your eyes aren’t burning the next time you’re sitting around the crackling flames with your nearest and dearest.

Flick across to my review on the current Top 5 Smokeless Fire Pits.

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