What Is a Smokeless Fire Pit and How Does It Work?
One of the worst things about having a backyard fire or campfire is to avoid smoke. No matter where you sit, you often need to change your seat to ignore the smoke.
Moreover, if you want to stay close to the fire to keep your hands warm or want to cook something you are constantly dancing around to avoid the smoke.
The best way to deal with this smoky mess is by having a smokeless fire pit. If you have no idea what a smokeless fire pit is and how it works, then read this article till the end. We’ll discuss the practical difference between a traditional fire pit, the science behind why there is less smoke, and even share options for how to build or buy a smokeless fire pit.
What is the Smokeless Fire Pit?
A smokeless fire pit is an outdoor fire pit that can efficiently burn firewood with minimal smoke. Basically, a smokeless fire pit uses two streams of oxygen to achieve primary and secondary combustion. Primary combustion is the burning of wood, whereas secondary combustion is the burning of smoke. Yes, there is still fuel left unburned in smoke. Think of it as tiny wood bits floating into the air.
The result is a big flame, a lot of heat, and a very pleasant fire with very little smoke. Once you’ve experienced a smokeless fire, you may be ruined on traditional campfires for life!
How Does a Smokeless Fire Pit Work?
Even though the term “smokeless” fire pit has been coined to describe fire pits made by Solo, Breeo, and others. A smokeless fire pit is not completely absent of smoke. They will start as smokey as any fire pit when the fire is just starting, and the fire pit is heating up.
While the fire is heating up, all fire pits are using the air around the logs + the heat from the growing fire to create primary combustion and burn the wood (this is the “fire triangle” of heat + oxygen + fuel). Traditional fire pits can have low-air flow causing a slower, smokier fire to begin within primary combustion. All of that smoke is unburnt fuel that didn’t get enough heat and oxygen to burn up.
So the real advantage of a smokeless fire pit is that it channels fresh air around the outside of the fire, with cool air entering at the bottom, then hating up and rising to escape near the top of the fire. This hot air mixing with hot smoke gives enough heat, oxygen, and fuel to create secondary combustion or gasification which burns most of the smoke above the fire pit and leaves fire goers with a pleasant, low smoke, beautiful fire.
Some have described the smokeless fire as a “double flame” or “high flame” fire because you have flames that come directly off the logs, but also flams that seem to begin at the top of the fire pit and lick up several feet in the area where you would normally see smoke above the fire pit.
Benefits of a Smokeless Fire Pit
There are various benefits of using a smokeless fire pit, and some of them are listed below.
- A smokeless fire pit improves overall fuel efficiency, meaning more heat generated per log.
- It helps in reducing the smoke and the smell (obvious, but important).
- There are less ashes to clean up with a smokeless fire pit because most of the wood mass is burned as fuel.
- A smokeless fire pit provides more consistent fire flames over the burn as long as it is well fed with firewood.
- Most smokeless fire pits are portable, and can be easily moved around a backyard, or taken to a park or a beach.
There are a few drawbacks to consider before spending time and money on a smokeless fire pit:
- More efficient burn = burns logs faster than other fire pits (the efficiency is in wood to heat ratio, not in conserving of wood fuel)
- It’s hot! Most smokeless fire pit designs create a very hot outside layer of metal which can be dangerous to touch. Some designs, may even singe or burn the area underneath it.
- Consistent use of a smokeless fire pit can cause friends and neighbors to spontaneously appear and ask questions like “is that one of those fire pits I’ve seen online? or “how much did that cost” or “do you have any beer?”
What’s the Best Smokeless Fire Pit?
Depending on your budget, available free time, skill level, and design preferences, you have dozens of possibilities available to you. Here are a few of the top smokeless bonfire pits available for sale. Or if you’re a bit handy and/or if your budget is a bit strapped, here is a guide to build your own smokeless fire pit. Stay safe out there.