So you enjoy the warmness and coziness of traditional campfires but can’t stand the smoke? You’re not alone.
While we all have something for crackling campfires, nobody likes to get smoke in their eyes, clothes, and hair.
You know there’s no smoke without fire, and then you come across smokeless fire pits, and your mind is blown.
The promise of a warm, crackling fire without smoke sounds too good to be true. But before you spend a few hundred bucks on the latest fire pit technology, you want to know, are smokeless fire pits worth it?
The point behind smokeless fire pits is to produce fire without much smoke. While they’re not necessarily 100% smoke-free, smokeless fire pits utilize various features and technologies to significantly reduce the produced smoke. But how?
Smokeless fire pits often have a double-wall design and feature carefully engineered vents and channels that allow for better oxygen circulation.
The air is drawn into the space at the bottom of the fire pit, gets heated by fire, and then escapes through spaces at the top and around the edges of the pit.
This design promotes efficient combustion of the smoke particles, creating a cleaner fire with minimal smoke.
Most modern smokeless fire pits feature a secondary combustion system. The goal of secondary combustion systems is to completely burn off any remaining gases and smoke that aren’t fully combusted during the initial combustion process.
As the fire continues to burn, the walls of the fire pit increase in temperature, creating a hot environment within the pit.
Additionally, fresh air enters the pit through bottom vents and travels through the space between the walls while getting warmer.
Eventually, the heated air is pushed over the top of the fire, effectively removing any remaining smoke before it escapes through the pit’s top.
Smokeless fire pits utilize different fuel sources, such as wood, charcoal, propane, natural gas, and bioethanol.
Propane, bioethanol, and natural gas are cleaner than wood and produce less smoke. That’s why smokeless fire pits that utilize these fuel types can reduce smoke emissions to the point that you don’t even notice the smoke.
While smokeless fire pits were manufactured to effectively reduce smoke emissions, the term smokeless doesn’t mean they’re 100% smokeless. They produce very little smoke to the point that you don’t even notice it.
Brands have been using the term “smokeless” for years to market their products, and they managed to sell millions of smokeless fire pits, convincing people they’re really smokeless; clever marketing strategy!
It’s worth noting that the extent of smoke produced by a smokeless fire pit is dependent on various factors. The design of the pit, fuel type, quality, and weather conditions all affect the amount of smoke produced.
Smokeless fire pits use their secondary combustion mechanism, double-wall design, improved airflow, and efficient fuel combustion to produce less smoke.
However, smoke will always be there, even if it’s unnoticeable. For example, if you’re using too much wood as fuel for a smokeless fire pit, it will smoke more.
The primary purpose of fire pits is to give enough heat and create a cozy ambiance. While smokeless fire pits emit significantly less smoke than traditional ones, they still give off a decent amount of heat.
So even if a large group of people is gathered around a smokeless fire pit, they’ll still feel warm enough.
Smokeless fire pits emit enough heat as traditional ones. Modern fire pits can even generate more heat than traditional fire pits.
This high heat output means smokeless fire pits are suitable for warming purposes and cooking as well, such as roasting hot dogs.
On top of that, most high-end smokeless fire pits feature adjustable knobs to control flame height and heat output.
As I mentioned, even smokeless fire pits produce smoke to some extent. But there are plenty of ways to minimize the smoke your fire pit produces.
What you’re burning in the fire pit is the most important factor in determining how much smoke is produced.
Here are a few options to decrease smoke production:
The most efficient way to decrease smoke production in fire pits is to use dry, seasoned firewood that contains minimal moisture.
Moisture can massively increase the amount of smoke produced when burning wood. By opting for dry, seasoned wood, you can minimize smoke production.
Kiln-dried seasoned wood is your best bet when it comes to reducing smoke.
If you want to enjoy a fire pit with minimal smoke, consider using ethanol or gel fuels instead of wood for your fire pit. Many smokeless fire pits on the market are compatible with ethanol and gel-based fuels that produce little to no smoke.
However, people who are after the authenticity and coziness of wood fire won’t be happy with ethanol and gel fuels. But if a smokeless fire experience is your priority, ethanol, and gel fuel are excellent options.
For a virtually smoke-free fire experience, propane and natural gas are decent choices as they produce clean-burning flames with minimal smoke.
Generally, fire pits aren’t environmentally friendly by any means. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that smoke from burning wood contains fine particles that adversely affect human health and the environment.
They cause problems like runny nose, bronchitis, and burning eyes, which worsens the symptoms of heart and respiratory diseases.
On top of that, wood smoke can be significantly harmful to the environment. The smoke releases harmful gases, such as methane, black carbon, and carbon dioxide.
These gases contribute to climate change. The harmful effects of wood smoke can be even more significant depending on the climate and location.
For example, people living in deep valleys or areas with stagnant air must be extremely careful with backyard fires as the air quality is already poor. Smoke can be a huge problem even in wide-open areas, especially in winter when the airflow isn’t the best.
For instance, fine particles from wood smoke in Washington State contribute to around 10% of wintertime pollution.
Even though fire pits are generally harmful to the environment, smokeless fire bits are far more eco-friendly than traditional wood-burning pits. But why?
First, smokeless fire pits are designed to promote complete combustion, reducing smoke particles and harmful emissions released into the air. In other words, smokeless fire pits produce fewer air pollutants than traditional ones.
Moreover, smokeless fire pits are much more energy efficient as they utilize less wood than traditional fire pits.
The compact double wall design and secondary combustion system allow smokeless fire pits to produce more heat while using less fuel resources. This saves resources and reduces the carbon footprint associated with burning wood.
Finally, many smokeless fire pits use non-wood fuel types such as propane, natural gas, and ethanol. These fire pits don’t produce many pollutants as they don’t use wood as fuel.
One of the most essential features of smokeless fire pits is that they completely burn fuel, producing more heat and less smoke.
Does that mean they use more wood than traditional fire pits? Not really.
Smokeless fire pits are efficient and utilize less wood than other fire pits, producing less ash, smoke, and pollutants.
As mentioned earlier, the term “smokeless” doesn’t mean that smokeless fire pits produce no smoke. It refers to the fact that these fire pits produce minimal smoke that often goes unnoticed.
However, some people invest in smokeless fire pits but still find them to be smoking. A few factors contribute to this problem, such as improper usage, using damp wood, ash buildup, using too much wood, and hindering airflow.
Here are a few possible solutions to this issue:
Moisture increases the amount of smoke produced by fire pits. So if you’re using damp firewood, stop doing this and replace it with dry-seasoned firewood.
After every use, some ash is left inside your smokeless fire pit. When the ash builds up, it blocks the airflow, resulting in more smoke.
To avoid this problem, remove the ash from your smokeless fire pit after every use. All you have to do is tip over the fire pit to dump out the ash and allow better airflow.
Start your fire gradually using a fire starter, lighter, and small pieces of dry firewood. Don’t add larger wood pieces until you notice an ember bed smoldering.
That way, you allow the double walls of your fire pit to heat up gradually so that secondary combustion occurs, eliminating smoke more efficiently.
Adding more wood to your fire pit will produce more smoke, even if you’re using a smokeless fire pit. That’s because you’re not letting the wood burn properly.
You only need to add more wood to get the fire going. If you feel that the fire is dying out, try mixing the existing wood using your fire pit tools to bring more oxygen to the fire.
Are smokeless fire pits worth it? Yes, they are. A smokeless fire pit is your best bet if you enjoy sitting around a campfire but can’t stand the smoke.
While smokeless fire pits cost more upfront, they have several benefits for you and the environment.
No more smelling like a campfire or irritating your neighbors with wood smoke. You’ll also do your part in reducing air pollution and helping preserve natural resources.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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