Smoky fires are the bane of many autumn evenings, leading to an endless game of musical chairs as the wind shifts and sends thick smoke drifting your way. The good news is that thanks to science, you can make a smokeless fire to enjoy all night long.
Fire requires three things to burn at its maximum efficiency: Fuel, oxygen, and heat. The fuel, typically wood, must be ignited by a heat source, and the fire draws in oxygen from the surrounding air, feeding the flames. A smoky fire can have a number of culprits, including poor air flow, a slow start, a low fire temperature, and poor fuel—meaning the wrong kind of wood or wood that's moist.
Where there's fire, there's going to be smoke, but that doesn't mean it has to billow out of the fire and engulf you like a toxic fog. Here are some tips that will help you build a fire that you can enjoy while breathing free and clean.
A windy day will have the smoke shifting directions, sending you scurrying for cover.
Make sure your wood is bone-dry. You can tell by smelling the wood—the more pungent the odor, the more moist it is. The best woods to use for a fire are hardwoods, such as oak and maple.
Building your fire right on the bottom of the fire pit restricts the flow of oxygen around the wood. A grate in the fire pit ensures oxygen flows all around your fire for hotter burning and less smoke. Walden Backyards' Original Fire Pit Grate with Ember Catcher and our Spoke-Style Premium Steel Fire Pit Grate are two options that fit inside standard fire pits.
You want to stack your firewood so that there are plenty of large gaps to allow oxygen in to keep your fire burning free and hot.
Dry grass and newspaper are the most commonly used fire starters, but you'll need a lot of dry grass, and newspapers burn quickly, turning to ash in a matter of seconds. Instead, try Walden Backyards' Sure-Fire Starters, which are completely natural and non-toxic and stay lit for ten to 15 minutes under the toughest conditions.
Make sure you have a sturdy metal fire poker and plenty of wood on hand to keep the fire going strong once you've got it started, and your fire will stay smoke-free all evening long. For more tips on building the perfect fire or finding the best fire pit for your backyard oasis, contact Walden Backyards. We know fires, and we can help yours burn long and bright.