How Does A Smokeless Fire Pit Work

Does A Smokeless Fire Pit Work?

If you love the ambiance that a wood fire produces, but the smoke produced by the burning wood is an annoyance, then a smokeless fire pit for your backyard could be just what you need! But are smokeless fire pits really smokeless, and how does this principle work?

A smokeless fire pit burns the smoke in a process called secondary combustion. This is where the smoke is combined with introduced air, and the flames burn the smoke off before it has a chance to escape from the fire pit. They are not completely smoke-free but produce significantly less smoke.

Smoke is one of the main problems emanating from a wood fire, which can be a problem for your home or neighbors. A smokeless fire pit provides a means to enjoy a wood fire without the billowing smoke normally associated with this type of fire. We will examine the principles that make a smokeless fire pit possible and whether they really work or not.

How Do Smokeless Fire Pits Work?

Wood-burning fire pits bring warmth, romance, and atmosphere to your outdoor activities and entertainment in your backyard. Billows of smoke normally associated with wood-burning fire pits can quickly change the atmosphere from romantic to suffocating when you cannot get close enough to the fire to enjoy the heat.

The smoke can also enter your home or blow into your neighbor’s yard and cause tensions to rise unnecessarily. Wood smoke can also be a problem for people with respiratory complaints and prevent them from getting close to the fire.

The answer to enjoying a wood fire without the smoke is a smokeless fire pit. The secret to how the fire pit operates with less smoke is found in the construction of the unit.

How to use Lava Rocks in a fire pit

How Are Smokeless Fire Pits Designed?

The smokeless fire pit design is key to reducing the smoke emissions of the wood burning in the fire pit.

Most smokeless fire pits have a dual-wall design. This means there is a double wall to the exterior of the fire pit, with an air gap between the two walls. 

Are smokeless fire pits actually smokeless?
Are smokeless fire pits actually smokeless?

At the base of the external fire pit walls, air-intake holes are drilled to allow free access of fresh air into the walls of the fire pit.

At the top of the fire pit, on the inner wall, similar holes are drilled as air outlet holes, directing an airstream back towards the center of the fire.

What Makes A Smokeless Fire Pit Smokeless?

The magic of a smokeless fire pit happens when the fire has been lit and the structure’s walls start to heat up.

As the air in the gap between the two walls of the fire pit warms up, it rises to the top of the fire pit. This rising air creates a low pressure at the fire pit’s base, and fresh air is pulled through the bottom holes.

As this hair heats up, it rises through the wall cavity and is forced out at the outlet holes at the top of the fire pit, directed towards the central fire. This stream of air provides fresh oxygen-rich air at the top of the flames.

The reason wood fires smoke prolifically is that all the oxygen in the fire is used at the base of the fire. This leaves little to no oxygen at the top of the flames to burn off smoke and gas produced by the initial combustion of the wood.

Fire Glass vs Lava Rocks

The jets for fresh, oxygen-laden air directed to the top of the flames provides the oxygen necessary for the fire to burn the gas and smoke at the top of the flames in a secondary combustion process.

The secondary combustion burns off the excess smoke produced by the primary combustion of the wood at the base of the fire.

Is A Smokeless Fire Pit Completely Smokeless? 

Calling a fire pit smokeless may lead people to believe that there is no smoke produced whatsoever from a smokeless fire pit.

It is almost impossible to burn wood without the production of any smoke at all. A smokeless fire pit is not completely smoke-free, but the smoke production is significantly reduced.

The smoke production of the fire will be greatest when the fire is initially ignited, and the wood starts to burn. It will take some time for the fire to warm in the fire pit walls and initiate the airflow in the wall cavity to produce sufficient air for secondary combustion.

Once the fire pit warms up and the airstream in the wall chamber starts to flow, the smoke volume will quickly reduce, and the fire will produce very little smoke.

There will still be some smoke that escapes the secondary combustion. The quantities of this smoke will be small enough to dissipate quickly before becoming a problem to those around the fire or your neighbors.

The best way to reduce the amount of smoke the fire generates in the beginning stages of the fire is to ensure that your wood is completely dry. Wood that is not properly dry will produce significant amounts of smoke until the fire becomes hot enough to dry the wood out.

Another option is to use commercially made wood pellets for your fire pit, which light quicker and are much drier than normal wood logs.

Do smokeless fire pits put out heat?
Do smokeless fire pits put out heat?

Top Tip: Do not build a fire so that the flames are much higher than the top of the fire pit. This will reduce the effectiveness of the smokeless feature, and the fire will generate more smoke. As the smoke starts to burn, the flames will appear above the top of the fire pit.

Do Smokeless Fire Pits Generate Heat?

Since the fire is contained in a double-walled container, many people may wonder if a smokeless fire pit generates enough heat to keep warm.

A smokeless fire pit burns the fuel more efficiently than a normal fire pit, with the secondary combustion adding to the heat that the fire pit generates. Typically a smokeless fire pit puts out more heat than a standard firepit that does not use this feature.

The walls of the fire pit are often made from metal, such as stainless steel or copper. When the metal heats up, it also radiates heat laterally, warming people sitting around the fire.

Do Smokeless Fire Pits Burn More Wood?

Since a smokeless fire pit utilizes secondary combustion, you may wonder how this affects the amount of wood that this fire pit will consume.

Smokeless fire pits use less wood than traditional fire pits. Smokeless fire pits burn more efficiently and burn the wood more completely, producing less ash and embers. This allows the wood to burn for longer in the fire pit, producing more heat and using less wood

The efficiency of the smokeless fire pit not only produces more heat for the wood that it burns, but it burns the wood more slowly, making it more cost-effective than standard open fire pits.

What To Use In The Bottom Of A Fire Pit?
Can you cook on a smokeless fire pit? – Yes use a grill plate.

Do Smokeless Fire Pits Smell?

All wood fires produce the attractive aroma of a wood fire, but the problem associated with most fires is the smell of the smoke.

Smokeless fire pits give you the aroma of the burning wood without the overwhelming smell of smoke. People sitting around the fire pit and the person making the fire are less likely to come away from the fire with the smell of smoke in their hair and on their clothes.

Most of the offensive smells from a wood fire comes from the excess smoke generated in the fire. Less smoke translates to less smoky smells from the fire, making everything around the fire smell of smoke.


Smokeless fire pits are a superb means to include the mesmerizing dance of wood flames in your outdoor entertainment area without the problem of billowing smoke.

Even if the smoke does not bother your neighbors or pose a problem for you, the added efficiency of these fire pits makes them a sensible option for heat generation and using less wood in the process.

If you are looking for a wood-burning fire pit to enhance your outdoor experience, you should definitely consider a smokeless option!