What Is a Smokeless Firepit?

Plus, the pros and cons of this popular outdoor accessory.

patio with string lights and fire pit

Jay Wilde

Want to enjoy a campfire without all the smoke? A smokeless firepit uses a special insert that helps reduce the amount of smoke produced. Although it isn’t 100% smoke-free, there is significantly less smoke involved, which can make it easier to enjoy an open fire for longer. For anyone sensitive to smoke or other pollutants, this is a great alternative to a traditional campfire. The wood also typically lasts longer, plus it’s often easier to start a fire. Learn the pros and cons of a smokeless firepit to help you decide which model is right for your home.

How Do Smokeless Firepits Work?

Smokeless firepits produce very little smoke because they use double walls and secondary combustion to prevent heat from escaping. The secondary combustion system burns wood or charcoal down to ash, doing away with any remaining smoke particles. This combo allows smokeless firepits to operate safely without producing uncomfortable, smelly smoke. Depending on the model, smokeless firepits may burn charcoal, wood, logs, or pellets. Propane firepits are completely smoke-free.

Smokeless pits need ventilation to ensure safety. They are ideal for outdoor patios made from non-combustible materials, like concrete. Make sure the area is level and away from any structure, including 10 to 20 feet away from your house. Never place a firepit on a slope, near trees, or under branches. Keep a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit on hand for any emergencies or accidents. 

What Are the Advantages of Smokeless Firepits?

A major advantage of less smoke is the reduction of campfire smells on hair, furniture, and clothes. After an outdoor gathering, you won’t smell like a campfire, an odor that can be tough to wash away. However, smokeless firepits do not completely eliminate smoke or its associated smells.

Smokeless firepits also tend to be more efficient than traditional wood-burning firepits. Their compact design makes smokeless firepits portable and easy to clean and remove ashes from the base. There are many sizes available, including lightweight models that make it easy to transport for game days or camping. Because of their improved ventilation, smokeless firepits are easy to light, and gas models that run on propane typically turn on with a button and produce no smoke at all.

Studies show that inhaling wood smoke can be harmful to human health. The fine particles released have been shown to contribute to respiratory diseases and air pollution. This doesn’t only affect the people immediately around the pit; lingering smoke can make its way throughout neighborhoods adjacent to wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. Seasoned firewood and smokeless pits help with combustion, so they are less harmful than traditional firepits.

What Are the Disadvantages of Smokeless Firepits?

Smokeless firepits have a few disadvantages. Many are more expensive than traditional firepits, and some feature proprietary fuel, like wood pellets. In general, smokeless fire pits tend to radiate less heat, so you might need to sit closer for warmth than you would a traditional firepit. Smokeless firepits tend to be less effective at repelling insects, so it’s best to wear sprays to keep bugs at bay. And while less harmful than traditional firepits, all firepits—generally speaking—aren't good for the environment.

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