DIY Smokeless Fire Pit

You can build a DIY smokeless fire pit using pavers and a fire ring. The larger the fire pit the larger its smokeless flame will be.

One of the main observations to consider before jumping on this DIY project is to consider these fire pits aren’t completely smokeless. They still create smoke, but not as much as a regular fire pit. A smokeless fire pit also creates a more attractive and larger flame that immediately stands out compared to a classic fire pit flame.

Why make your own DIY smokeless fire pit?

Smokless Fire Pit Design

Pre-made smokeless fire pits can be expensive. However, they can be built at home, even if not to the same standard of finish. Smokeless fire pits made at home have the advantage of size customization. You can create a large fire pit for large logs or a smaller smokeless fire pit for occasional use.

1. To avoid inhaling smoke

Smoke contains small toxic particles which can affect the respiratory system. Constant smoke exposure is detrimental to health. This is why a smokeless fire that only partially creates smoke is the best alternative.

People with severe respiratory issues might need to stay away from smoke even more. This is why a fire pit that’s made as a DIY project can eliminate most of the health hazards associated with smoke inhalation.

2. To avoid smoky clothes

One of the biggest problems with sitting by a large fire in the evening is caused by smoke that penetrates clothes. Most clothes that smell like smoke need to be washed immediately. Smokeless fire pits eliminate this problem almost completely. Even spending a few hours next to a large fire in the evening can be enjoyed without having clothes that smell of smoke.

3. To have a more attractive fire flame

Smokeless fire looks spectacular. A stronger burn often creates a larger flame. Reduced smoke also makes this flame stand out even more. This is why smokeless fire looks spectacular compared to regular fire.

4. To avoid disturbing the neighbors

Smoke from a barbeque or from roasting marshmallows can disturb the neighbors if their homes are very close to your home. A smokeless fire pit can enable making a large fire without smoke making its way to neighboring homes.

How do smokeless fire pits work?

Smokeless fire pits are almost completely smokeless. While their name suggests a fire that burns with no smoke at all, these types of fire pits still produce a small amount of smoke. This is how smokeless fire pits work.

The principle of secondary burn

A smokeless fire pit feeds the fire with extra air which ignites when in contact with the fire, essentially burning the smoke. This is also known as secondary burn. Extra air that enters the fire pit (typically from below) travels up as it heats and eventually gets in contact with the fire. This is when the smoke starts to burn as air ignites the fire further.

Additional cold air intake

Additional cold air intake is needed to make a fire smokeless. Portable smokeless fire pits use holes at the bottom and double walls for cold air to travel from the bottom of the fire pit to the top and bottom of the fire pit where other holes allow it to get in contact with the flame and burn its smoke. DIY fire pits need to be built with the same principles.

A large flame without smoke

The final result should be a large flame in the fire pit that has almost no smoke at all. One of the best parts about this type of fire is that it allows you to sit closer to it. A DIY smokeless fire pit can be used for relaxation, grilling, or simply as a place to socialize in the garden.

We have covered how smokeless fire pits work in full detail here.

How to make a DIY smokeless fire pit?

One of the easiest methods to make a DIY smokeless fire pit is by using pavers. The ground needs to be leveled first. Pavers and a fire ring are enough to create a smoke-free fire. Most importantly, this fire pit can be customized to a size that’s appropriate for your backyard.

1. Flatten the ground

First Step - DIY Smokeless Fire Pit

The first step is to flatten the ground. Pavers need to be placed on flat ground. You first need to remove any grass on the ground and lay sand on a perfectly flat surface. The area that needs to be flattened can be larger than the metal fire ring.

Most DIY smokeless fire pits are made in a circular shape. You can also build a square fire pit or a rectangular fire pit. A round fire pit is easier to build since fire rings are also sold in round shapes by most retailers.

2. Lay pavers or bricks

Pavers need to be laid next. Thick pavers go on the ground. A mallet is useful to easily install these. Sand is then laid on top of the pavers and evenly distributed to fill in the gaps between the pavers and also makes the surface more stable. Alternatively, you can lay small decorative rocks on the ground as the foundation of a DIY smokeless fire pit that also looks good.

3. Drill holes into a fire ring

The fire ring needs to be prepared first. You need to drill holes around it on the top and bottom parts of at least a couple of inches in diameter. Power tools such as a drill are required here. The holes need to be drilled on the entire circumference of the fire ring. This is where cold air is going to enter the fire ring and eventually trigger smoke burning.

Holes need to be drilled in the upper part of the fire ring. Cold air starts to rise as it warms up. Cold air is drawn from the space between the fire ring and the outer pavers. If you don’t drill holes in the fire ring, the DIY fire pit will burn like a regular fire pit with smoke.

DIY Smokeless Fire Pit Steps

4. Lay pavers around the fire ring

Once holes are drilled in the fire ring you can proceed to lay the outer pavers. These are laid at a distance of 2-5 inches from the fire ring. Pavers can be laid on top of each other circularly around the fire ring. The final row of laid pavers should be at the same level as the fire ring.

5. Remove pavers from the bottom of the fire pit

You need to remove a few pavers from the bottom layer of the fire pit to facilitate air intake. Some people only remove 3-5 pavers while others remove every second paver. The more pavers you remove the bigger the flame of the fire pit will be as more air will make its way to the fire.

How to make a DIY smokeless fire pit in camp?

You can also make a smokeless fire pit without using pavers, a fire ring, or even bricks. One of the first smokeless fire pits has been seen out in nature as a survival method. Today, smokeless fire pits dug directly into the ground are mainly used in camping. These types of fire pits which create a fire that burns below the surface are ideal in high wind. This is how to create them.

1. Dig a hole in the ground

The first step to creating a DIY smokeless fire pit while camping is to dig a small but deep hole in the ground. A hole with a 10-inch opening that’s at least 20 inches deep can be dug using a small camping shovel. These holes are normally small in diameter as they are only used for a limited time, while in camp.

2. Dig a second hole nearby

The next step is to dig a similar hole nearby, at a distance of at least 10 inches. These holes then need to be connected. The second hole you dig in the ground should be of the same diameter and depth as the same hole for a fire that burns without interruptions with sufficient airflow.

3. Connect the two holes with an underground tunnel

Now that you’ve dug 2 holes in the ground you need to connect them at the bottom. You need to dig a small tunnel to connect the holes. A small camping shovel is ideal for this process. The connecting tunnel needs to have a diameter of at least 5 inches for sufficient air intake.

4. Build a fire in one of the holes to test the fire pit

Now that the makeshift fire pit is ready you need to test it out. Small branches and dry leaves can be used to make a fire in one of the holes. This fire is typically dependent on the height where it’s made. You shouldn’t directly make a fire at the bottom of the hole. Smoke is going to be drawn through the second hole. This means you should not be facing any smoke directly over your fire when using this DIY campfire pit-making method.

To learn more about why your campfire smokes so much, check out this article to learn the steps you can take to prevent it.

Where to make a DIY smokeless fire pit?

DIY smokeless fire pits can be dangerous if they’re too close to flammable objects. They should not be made in the immediate vicinity of your home. If you decide to build one on the patio you should ensure there’s a thick base that’s not heat-conductive as a best safety practice.

1. In the backyard

The best place to build a DIY smokeless fire pit is out in the backyard. This is the place where you can build a large smokeless fire pit. Ideal for families, large smokeless fire pits in the yard also easily allow you to place chairs around it to relax in the evening. It’s best to find a clear location for your DIY smokeless fire pit in the backyard away from fences, trees, and other structures as a safety precaution.

2. On the patio

Some people prefer to have smaller DIY smokeless fire pits on their large patios. While still outdoors, you should ensure proper insulation on the bottom of the fire pit so that no heat is transferred from the fire to the patio. However, it’s best to avoid building a fire pit on the patio altogether.

3. In camp

DIY smokeless fire pits are very common in camp. The method described above relies on no building materials and it represents the simplest method of making a smoke-free fire while camping with just a small camping shovel.

Final words

The easiest method to build a DIY smokeless fire pit at home is to use a metal fire ring (sold in most hardware stores) and pavers. Some pavers go underneath the fire ring while other pavers are stacked around the fire ring at a reasonable distance to facilitate air circulation.

Other types of DIY smokeless fire pits can be made by digging 2 holes in the ground and connecting them via a small tunnel. This allows you to make a fire in one hole while smoke is directed outwards and up through the other hole.

DIY smokeless fire pits can also be made using metal barrels. However, these barrels need to be reinforced to deal with the high heat specific to smokeless fire pits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do smokeless fire pits use more wood?

Smokeless fire pits burn efficiently with a larger flame. This means they also use considerably more wood than regular fire pits. A large flame also emits more heat.

What fuel can I use in a DIY smokeless fire pit?

Logs, charcoal, and dry wood, in general, are the ideal types of fuel for smokeless fire pits. Wood pellets are a good alternative for the fire pit. However, logs tend to burn longer than small wood pellets.

Why does my smokeless fire pit smoke?

Logs that aren’t completely dry are likely to smoke. A DIY smokeless fire pit can also smoke as a result of poor air intake. You need to create more holes at the bottom and at the top of the fire pit or fire ring to facilitate better airflow and faster smoke burning.