Over the last number of years people have been experimenting with ways to enjoy a campfire without the cloud of annoying smoke. Many of these methods have turned out to be quite successful in creating a smokeless fire pit and we will explore all the options here!
So first of all, how does a smokeless fire pit work? Well to answer that, we need to answer why a fire pit would smoke in the first place.
The reason a fire pit smokes is because it does not have the proper mix of the three necessary ingredients for fire: Heat, Fuel and Oxygen. If any one of these is off, the fire produces incomplete combustion and will therefore smoke. A fire that is burning with the right mix of heat, fuel and oxygen achieves complete combustion and will have virtually no smoke.
That is the whole goal we are trying to achieve here: complete combustion
So what is the right mix of heat, fuel and oxygen and why are all campfires smoky. The usual culprit here is the last one: Oxygen. A campfire is often built on the ground and has inconsistent and insufficient oxygen. Even worse, some fire pits are built in stone or brick and the fire is buried all the way in the bottom where almost no air can get to it.
The usual culprit of a smoky campfire is not enough airflow
The rule of thumb is always: More air equals less smoke! Every invention you will see on this page is focused on how to get more air to the fire and thereby reduce the smoke.
There are two main ways to get more air to your fire pit: Primary Air and Secondary Air. Primary air enters at the base of the fire and helps the fire burn stronger and hotter. Secondary air enters above the fire and burns off smoke that is trying to escape. We will see example of both types in the fire pits below.
Dakota Smokeless Fire Pit
First in our lineup of smokeless fire pits is the classic Dakota fire pit. This style of smokeless fire pit has been around for hundreds of years, especially among nomadic tribes of Indigenous groups.
How does it work? Well, remember our little lesson about oxygen? The Dakota fire pit provides additional primary oxygen to the base of the fire using a tunnel system.
Here is how it works:
1. Dig a hole 2-3 feet deep and 1.5 feet wide
2. Dig a second, smaller hole about 1 foot to the side
3. Dig a tunnel between your first hole, and your second hole!
This tunnel acts as an air chamber, funneling primary air to the base of your campfire. This helps the fire pit burn hotter and cleaner, and does somewhat help with smoke. However, because it is only receiving more primary oxygen this fire pit can still end up smoking quite a bit.
The next type of smokeless fire pit we will look at is commonly referred to as a rocket stove. Similar to the Dakota fire pit, the rocket stove creates a clean burning, smokeless fire through concentrated primary combustion in the bottom of the stove.
There are a couple ways to do this, the most solid and long lasting style is to create one out of steel. Here is a great looking rocket stove that can be made if you have the tools and abilities to attempt it!
Another, much simpler way to make a rocket stove is by using making it out of bricks! This requires almost no equipment and can be done for as little as $10. Here is a great video showing how to make a rocket stove out of bricks, for a simple smokeless fire pit:
Smokeless Fire Pit Brands
If you’ve decided you want to experience a smokeless fire pit, but don’t want to build one yourself, then the next best thing is to buy one!
Luckily there are now several different brands offering smokeless fire pits online and through stores in the US. Each of these fire pits has their pro’s and con’s and we’ll go through each product below.
This product has been on the market for a couple years now, and has been getting great reviews on Amazon and elsewhere! Designed to reburn the smoke using a secondary combustion system, the Solo Stove Bonfire is very efficient and attractive. It is also relatively light weight, making it a great portable option if you want to take your smokeless fire pit camping.
The Solo Stove can be purchased on Amazon for around $300 and is a great option for those looking to purchase a stand alone smokeless fire pit that is quite portable.
Solo Stove also makes a larger unit, called the Yukon. This functions the same as the Bonfire, but is larger.
According to their website, this is the original smokeless fire pit. Breeo manufactures a number of different smokeless fire pits in their facility in Pennsylvania. This is one advantage to the Breeo fire pits, they are the only American Made option in our list here.
The Breeo Double Flame product is available on Amazon for $338 and has very high reviews.
Another smokeless fire pit that Breeo builds is the Zentro fire pit. This is an insert that goes down into paver or stone fire pits and turns them into a smokeless fire pit! The Zentro also has additional cooking accessories, which is something that almost all the Breeo fire pits feature. These accessories allow you to grill, sear, or boil water right over the flames!
Another product that Breeo builds is called the Luxeve smokeless fire pit. This is a decorative fire pit that looks very high end, for being a wood burning unit!
Biolite Smokeless Fire Pit
This fire pit uses a different type of technology to create the smokeless effect. Rather than relying on heat transfer through a wall system to fuel the secondary combustion, the Biolite fire pit uses a fan to blow air through a ventilation system.
So far we have covered what a smokeless fire pit is, how it works, how to make your own, and which ones are available to buy.
Fire pit emissions are just like any other form of emissions and they increase our carbon footprint.
There is one other piece of the pie to include before we wrap up, and that is the environmental effect. The more efficient your fire pit is, the lower the impact on the environment. Its that simple. Fire pit emissions are just like any other form of emissions and they increase our carbon footprint. Using a smokeless fire pit greatly reduces the emissions from your fire pit, which keeps you from smelling like smoke and poluting the air! That’s a win win if there ever was one.
Thats it! Now you have the tools to either create or buy your very own smokeless fire pit. Take that extra step to reduce your smoke emissions and we will all be happier for it.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.