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Smoky fires are the bane of any fireside gathering, leading to an endless game of musical chairs as the wind shifts. Rather than scrambling around your outdoor fire pit all evening in an effort to avoid being smoked out, follow these easy tips on how to build a smokeless fire that will provide you and your guests with hours of enjoyment.



What Makes a Fire Smoky?

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.

How to Make Your Fire Smoke-Free

Where there's fire, there's going to be some smoke, but that doesn't mean it has to billow out of your bonfire ring and engulf you like a toxic smog. Check out these smoke-minimization tips:

Fresh stacked firewood

1. Use the right wood.

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. Wet wood is the number one culprit of a smoky fire, so be sure to store it in a way such that it is shielded from the elements. If your wood is hissing, it means that it is very damp, and it is likely to produce a lot of smoke.

Above ground fire pit

2. Use an above ground fire pit

Because smoke billows upward, you will be subject to a lot less smoke if you use a large outdoor fire pit, such as the Walden Legacy Series™ Fire Pit Insert, as opposed to a fire ring that is sitting on the ground. With an above ground fire pit, even when the wind is blowing in your direction, much of the smoke that would have hit you directly in the face will instead billow over your head. 

Hot coals on a fire pit grate

3. Use a fire pit grate.

If you have an in-ground fire pit, consider using a steel fire pit grate that elevates your flame off of the ground. This will ensure that oxygen flows all around your fire for hotter burning and less smoke overall.

Stacked firewood

4. Stack the wood properly.

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.

Starting a fire with a fire starter

5. Use a good fire starter.

Dry grass and newspaper are the most commonly used fire starters, but they create harsh smoke and turn to ash in a matter of seconds. Using a non-toxic fire starter is the easiest and best way to ensure that you don’t produce a ton of unnecessary smoke during the lighting of your fire.


So there you have it, hoping that your next fire is relaxing and smoke-free!

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