Concept of smokey fire pit

Why Is My Fire Pit So Smokey?

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Colleen Roberts

Expert writer

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There is possibly nothing more enjoyable than a nice evening spent around a fire with friends and family. When that experience is ruined by fire pit smoke, the entire evening can turn from enjoyable to downright disgusting. A backyard party can often be salvaged by moving the party indoors. But what if you are camping and relying on that fire as the evening entertainment?

There are a few things that you can do to prevent a smokey fire from ruining your evening around your fire pit. The best fire will be comprised of quality wood under optimal environmental conditions in a controlled area.

Reasons Your Fire Pit Is Smoking

Reasons Your Fire Pit Is Smoking

You could be experiencing a smokey fire in your fire pit for many reasons. Here are some reasons you may have more smoke than warmth from your fire pit.

Debris or Yard Waste

Yard waste should never be used as kindle in a fire pit due to the risk of increased smoke. While it may seem easy, yard waste or debris can lead to increased smoke and pollution. Instead, use a properly dried kindle, and it will lay the groundwork for a high quality and low or no smoke fire.

You should also clear your fire pit of debris, such as garbage. Food wrappers can catch fire and create a large amount of smoke when they melt from the heat. Garbage should never be burned or used as kindle because it can release hazardous toxins into the air. No one wants to breathe in harmful chemicals. Especially when they’re trying to enjoy a nice night outside.


Moisture is the most common reason why a fire will produce smoke. Only properly dried and stored wood should be used in a fire pit. Moist wood is usually a result of wood that wasn’t stored properly. When the wood is burned, the water evaporates and turns into smoke.

If you are using yard waste in your fire, you also risk having too much moisture in the fire. Leaves and other yard waste also contain water molecules and can release smoke when they are incorporated into a fire.

Wood Type

The type of wood you are burning can also create unwanted smoke. Green Pine is known for its smoke-producing tendencies and creates excessive amounts of soot.

Why A Smokey Fire Pit Is Bad

A burning fire pit with smoke

The number one reason you are using a fire pit is to provide an actual fire that you can sit around and enjoy. No one wants to be stuck sitting around a cloud of smoke. But there are other reasons to avoid a smoking fire pit.

Cooking Food Over a Smokey Fire Pit

If you are trying to cook over your open fire pit, your food will absorb some of the smoke properties and take on a smoked taste. This is dangerous if there is trash or unsafe wood being burned.

Allergy and Asthma Risks

Allergies can also be set into motion by excessive smoke. And you’ll want to take into consideration anyone with asthma. You can accidentally trigger an asthma attack from too much smoke inhalation.

Toxic Chemicals

If you’re burning something other than dry wood, you risk breathing in something you shouldn’t. Anything from yard waste to debris will produce smoke. And that smoke is usually contained in toxins that we shouldn’t breathe in excess.

Not Neighborly

The smoke will likely enter through windows if the fire is near your home or any structure. This will cause a lingering smell that is difficult to get rid of.

Severe smoke damage from a small and maintained fire pit is unlikely. But if you are near your neighbors, you will want to inform them of your fire pit plans. It is courteous to give neighbors the opportunity to close their windows and effectively block out any smoke that may be produced by your fire.

How To Stop Your Fire Pit From Smoking

If you have lit a fire and it has begun smoking, you can do a few things to try to salvage the fire and not ruin the time spent around it.

  1. Take note of any debris that may have blown into the fire.
  2. Use a fire poker or long tongs to retrieve the trash.
  3. If one particular log is smoking and the other wood is catching properly, you can push that log aside with the fire poker.
  4. Fires that become uncontrollably smoke-filled should be extinguished immediately to prevent pollution, smoke damage, or allergy flare-ups.
  5. You can extinguish a fire by saturating it with water or smothering it with sand or dirt. A naturally burning fire that does not produce smoke will eventually burn out.
  6. You will want to move the remaining burning embers around with a stick or fire poker until you are certain the fire is fully out.
  7. Never leave a fire unattended.

How to Properly Prep to Use Your Fire Pit

Fire on fire pit at night

There are a few things that you can do to prevent your fire pit from smoking. Here are some steps to prep for a nice evening around the fire.

Clean the Surrounding Area

When you know in advance that you will be having a fire, you should head out to the pit and ensure it is clean. This should be an easy task if you have a portable fire pit. You may need a yard waste bag and a shovel if you have an in-ground fire pit.

Remove any dirt and debris left behind from previous fires. Clear out any weeds or yard waste that may have fallen or blown into your fire pit.

Inspect the Fire Pit

Inspect the fire pit to ensure it is dry. If you see moisture, try to clean it up. Also, ensure there isn’t something in the fire pit that may cause smoking.

Use the Right Kindling and Firewood

When you light your fire, use a kindling designed for starting fires. Place only dry wood inside the fire pit. Avoid using green wood because this will smoke.

Outdoor Conditions

Do not light a fire on a windy or rainy day. If you do, the wind will make the experience unpleasant and difficult. And if it’s raining, the rain will put the fire out or create evaporation smoke.

Smokeless Fire Pit Options

Enjoying a backyard fire can be smoke-free. Smokeless fire pits that utilize natural gas or propane are as nice as wood-burning fire pits.

The gas or propane-burning fire pits will not produce air-polluting smoke. They also have fewer restrictions than traditional fire pits. And we like that gas or propane pits burn cleaner and the fire can easily be turned off.

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