One of the most annoying parts of having a campfire or backyard fire is avoiding the smoke.
It seems like no matter where you sit, or how often you move the smoke manages to find you!
Making you either sit there to tough it out or scuttling your camp chair around constantly.
And that’s just when you’re sitting around the fire at a normal distance.
It’s even worse if you’re hovering over it to keep your hands warm, to dry clothing, or to cook over the flames.
In these scenarios, it’s nearly impossible to stay out of the thick nasty white smoke.
Leaving you a hot smokey mess, with campfire clothes and irritated eyes.
Instead of just “living with it”, you should consider getting a smokeless fire pit.
So today we’ll be deep diving into the world of smokeless fire pits, specifically:
- What A Smokeless Fire Pit Is & How They Work
- Reasons To Invest In A Smokeless Fire Pit
- How To Dig A Simple Smokeless Fire Pit
- How To Build A Smokeless Rocket Stove
- The Best Smokeless Fire Pits & Grills
WHAT A SMOKELESS FIRE PIT IS & HOW THEY WORK
This type of firepit uses controlled airflow and temperatures to achieve better combustion.
Just like a well-tuned engine produces very little exhaust.
A “smokeless” fire is also highly-efficiency and creates minimal smoke (significantly less than typical fire pits). AND puts out far more heat from each log you toss in.
Dakota Fire Pit
Original smokeless fire pits were two small pits in the ground connected with a vent tunnel.
This design provides fresh air to the base of the flames.
This type of fire pit has been used by nomads for thousands of years. And allows them to burn sparse fuel and conserve resources.
This subterranean firepit also has the added benefit hiding the flame. This helps to keep traveling tribes hidden from enemies looking for fires at night.
And when the time came to move on, it was simple to fill in the fire pit and replace the sod, leaving no trace of their passage.
One type of smokeless fire pit, the Dakota pit, is still taught to US military troops for these very reasons.
When it comes to covert heat, low visibility, and reliability (even in strong winds), the Dakota pit is hard to beat!
If a below-ground fire isn’t going to cut it for you, consider another “smokeless” option – a rocket stove.
Rocket stoves come in a wide variety of sizes.
The smallest ones are portable while large ones can heat entire cabins (called Rocket Mass Heaters).
These stoves use the same main idea as Dakota fire pits.
They use a constant stream of fresh air to supply the bottom of the fire’s fuel.
Backyard Fire Pits
These days, more people are becoming familiar with the smokeless backyard fire pit.
These are either bought as a smoke free fire pit insert or as a free-standing patio fire pit.
They channel fresh air through passages along the inside of the fire pit. This design pre-heats the air and mixing it with the smoke exiting the fire pit.
This input of fresh oxygen causes a secondary burn off of most of the particles in the smoke. This is how these firepits produce greater heat and far less visible smoke.
It’s sort of like an afterburner for your fire pit!
REASONS TO INVEST IN A SMOKELESS FIRE PIT
No matter what kind of smokeless fire pit you choose, they share many of the same benefits.
Due to their high-temp burn and better combustion, smokeless fire pits are efficient.
They put out more heat from the same amount of fuel used.
This allows you to burn less fuel and conserve your resources.
If you’re into preparedness and survival, long-term fuel and firewood management of utmost importance.
Reduced Smoke & Smell
Since more chemicals in wood smoke are burned in this pit, the resulting smoke is thinner and less acrid.
It still smells like a campfire, but it’s far less likely to saturate your clothes with that smell.
The reduced soot also means less staining on your pots and pans and around the fire pit.
The flame is more contained within a burn chamber (either underground or inside the shell of the fire pit). This results in less of a visible light signature to give away your location at night.
During the day, the thinner smoke column is also harder to spot.
This is a massive advantage if you’re trying to remain undetected and low-profile.
This could become an essential survival skill (if bugging out) when evasion is the primary goal.
HOW BUILD A SMOKELESS FIRE PIT (a.k.a. Dakota Fire Pit)
There are lots of videos online that show how to build a Dakota Fire Pit. For the most part, they all boil down to digging two adjoining holes.
A large hole for the combustion chamber and chimney and a smaller one as an air intake tunnel.
Fuel is inserted into the bigger hole.
To start, remove a 12” circle of soil and plant roots and set it aside to replace later.
Continue digging straight down roughly 12”. Then expand the base of the hole several inches on each side. This leaves a broader area to accommodate larger pieces of firewood.
Next, repeat the process to create a 6″ airway tunnel that angles down to meet the combustion chamber at the base.
This tunnel will provide fresh air to the base of the flames. This allows your fire to draft better and burn clean.
Once your Dakota fire pit is complete, build a fire in the combustion chamber. Make sure to use plenty of dry fuel and small kindling to get it going.
After the fire is lit, you should see a strong draft down into the airway tunnel. With flames and heat building inside the combustion chamber.
As the fire heats up, the smoke will taper off, and you’ll be rewarded with a clean, even heat!
HOW TO BUILD A SMOKELESS ROCKET STOVE
While you can buy a rocket stove, a well-built one isn’t always cheap.
You can also build your own IF you have the right metal working skills (and equipment).
If you do, you can make a long-lasting rocket stove in a couple of hours.
This DIY build is a more involved build than a simple Dakota fire pit. So make sure you watch the video and plan your parts before you start cutting and welding!
THE BEST SMOKELESS FIRE PITS, INSERTS & GRILLS
Sometimes it’s easiest to order the stove that fits your needs. Even if a DIY solution might sound cheaper – remember, your time is worth something as well!
Fortunately, there are a few options to buy a smokeless fire pit, a fire pit insert, or grill.
Solo Stove Bonfire
Solo Stove is one of the most visible smokeless fire pits on the market.
They have a wide range of products in their line up. They have a small backpacking stove all the way up to a Bonfire stove.
The bonfire stove is a free-standing fire pit designed for backyard use. Or it’s lightweight enough to take with you camping.
So feel free to add it to your cool camping gear.
All Solo Stove’s designs incorporate a double wall.
This design provides plenty of air and preheating for better combustion. But also provides a cooler outside surface than other backyard fire pits.
Plus, the stainless steel construction and precision cut pieces look great.
Finally, their solid warranty means they stand behind their products.
Double Flame Smokeless Fire Pit
The Double Flame Patio Fire Pit also features dual stainless steel walls.
These walls channel fresh air up from the base and release it from small vents near the rim.
This provides a secondary burn and reduces the smoke to nearly zero.
It’s a larger unit, with taller standoff legs that keep the heat of the fire from scorching anything below.
Zentro Smokeless Fire Pit Insert
If a free-standing fire pit isn’t for you, check out the Zentro smokeless fire pit insert. This smoke free fire pit insert turns your existing brick or stone fire pit into a smokeless cooking center.
The triple wall construction pulls air down through a baffle and then back up to the reburn vents. This again preheats the air and reduces the smoke.
The cold-rolled steel blends well with modern or traditional fire pits.
It’s easy to install in any 30-32” diameter fire pit, just dropping in from the top.
Of course, the best feature of the Zentro smokeless fire pit insert is the grilling and cooking options.
Grills, griddles, rotisseries – even a winch to lower a dutch oven (or witches cauldron?) to the perfect height above the flames.
BioLite FirePit Outdoor Smokeless Fire Pit Grill
The BioLite FirePit grill manages airflow via built-in fans. These fans run off a battery and are controlled via Bluetooth and a smartphone app.
This active air management can take you from spark to fire in seconds and keep your fire roaring.
It uses a 10,400 mAh rechargeable battery power pack which also sports USB outputs. So you can charge your devices while out at the firepit!
Further proof that you can add Bluetooth and a USB battery pack to just about any product!
Dealing with smoke around the fire pit is an age-old dilemma.
It’s can be so frustrating at times, that people avoid sitting around the fire altogether. But you don’t have to just ignore this problem anymore. You can do something about it.
You also get the added benefits of letting your firewood last longer and you’re being more environmentally friends.
So whether you go DIY or buy- you can have a “smokeless” fire. It’s time you got an efficient, clean, smokeless fire pit you and all your friends will love.