Huddling around a wood-burning fire pit with family and friends is meant to be a pleasant experience. However, there are those instances when warming yourself next to a fire pit has you and others choking and tearing as a result of your fire pit smoking too much.
When you find yourself shifting from one chair to another in hope of avoiding smoke by trying to stay upwind, then you know it’s time to get to the bottom of why your fire pit is smoking too much if you are to enjoy your fire without the need for a face mask.
Knowing the common causes of excessive smoke in your fire pit should help you solve the problem and prevent it from happening again going forward.
Reasons Why Your Fire Pit is Smoking Too Much
Three things are necessary to achieve a quality fire; these are good ventilation, good fuel, and heat. If you have already correctly started your fire by stacking your logs properly, they should burn well and increasingly with minimal smoke.
You’re Using Damp Firewood
If the smoke is too much, it can mean that the firewood you are using is not completely dry. Logs that are not sufficiently dry will not burn well and instead will smoke.
How do you know your logs are not dry?
This may not be so obvious from a cursory glance. The logs may appear dry on the surface but maybe damp on the inside.
A moisture content of 20% in logs is ideal for burning but even logs with 30% moisture content will burn just fine with little to no smoke.
Moisture content that is above 30% in your logs will result in excessive smoke and a poor burn in your fire pit which in turn lead to a lousy fire experience.
Moisture content in logs can be measured using a moisture meter. This simple gadget is inexpensive and can be purchased in your local supermarket or hardware.
It helps check the moisture content of your logs to determine which ones are satisfactorily dry and best placed to give you a quality fire with minimal smoke.
For a great fire experience when gathered around a fire pit with family and friends, be sure to use sufficiently dry logs for fire pit fuel. Some logs sold in supermarkets are kiln dried and burn very well with barely any smoke.
Kiln-dried logs tend to be fairly expensive though. If you live in a wooded area, you can gather your logs and stack them in an open rack and leave them exposed to the sun for days to dry. It is better to gather plenty of wood or logs and sun dry them in racks for a long time so that by the time you get to them they are adequately dry and ready to burn without emitting much smoke.
For proper seasoning of logs, it helps to split logs in the middle in manageable sizes so that the inside of the log is exposed to the sun when racked. This method of wood seasoning ensures that your wood dries well and quickly.
When damp wood is the cause of excessive smoke in your fire pit, using only well-seasoned or dried wood will effectively solve the problem and will have you enjoying a quality fire every time you use your fire pit.
You’ve Not Stacked Your Wood Properly
As we mentioned earlier, a key ingredient to burning a high-quality fire with little smoke is ensuring there is adequate ventilation.
When oxygen is freely flowing in and around the fire area, you can expect to have a raging fire provided the wood fuel being used is adequately dry.
When you are sure that your logs are dry but still your fire pit is emitting a lot of smoke, probably, the logs are not properly stacked.
A teepee or log cabin firewood stack comes highly recommended as it allows adequate spaces in the stark for free movement of air and space for your tinder to ignite readily with plenty of room to spread a continuous flame to the wood splinters and eventually onto the logs.
When the logs are too close together in the initial stages of the fire, a lack of adequate ventilation will have your tinder and logs smoldering and producing a lot of smoke instead of igniting and facilitating a raging fire.
Using seasoned logs and stacking them properly in a way that allows free flow of air, will result in a better ignition and a raging fire devoid of much smoke in no time.
You’re Using the Wrong Type of Wood
When you have the right wood and materials, starting a fire is a breeze. On the other hand, if your wood and kindling is wanting, starting and maintaining a fire will turn out to be a tedious chore filled with tears and chokes from the resulting smoke.
If you happen to have pine trees in your neighborhood or backyard, you already know that the bark, cones, and needles from pine trees make good kindling material provided they are dry.
Dried softwoods such as pine, cedar, spruce, and hemlock are great fire starters. This is because of the simple reason that they contain high amounts of terpene. Terpene is a flammable chemical in tree sap that makes most softwoods excellent fire starters.
But when softwoods such as those mentioned above are used as the main source of fuel, they will tend to smoke more than other woods.
Whereas on the other hand, hardwoods such as ash, oak, maple, and hickory are preferred as the main fuel because they smoke less. Furthermore, they are better suited for burning as they burn longer and hotter.
However, it’s worth noting that not all hardwoods emit minimal smoke, Eucalyptus, Poplar and Elm are a few examples that you want to steer clear of as fuel for your fire pit.
Final Thoughts to Prevent Your Fire Pit From Smoking Too Much
Ensuring a good ventilation in your fire pit and giving some thought to the wood you use for firewood in your fire pit can help you get a cleaner fire that does not smoke too much And when you use dry tinder in tandem with well-seasoned wood as fuel, your fire pit fire will take quite pleasantly and with minimal smoke.
If you see your fire pit smoking incessantly, it’s very likely that one or two of the above reasons are contributing factors. Diagnose which one is the culprit and fix it to enjoy a cleaner wood fire with minimal smoke.