Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila
An outdoor fire pit creates an inviting campfire vibe that extends enjoying your backyard space well into the evening. But traditional fire pits can produce a significant amount of unpleasant smoke and ash, which can cause coughing and leave a strong smell on clothing and hair. Smokeless fire pits work via a double-wall design that creates warmth and flickering flames without producing smoke (though depending on fuel, they may produce ash and embers). Depending on the model, these fire pits can burn gas, wood, pellets, and even biomass (a fuel source from renewable organic material derived from plants and animals). They range in size from small portable models weighing less than 20 pounds to full-size versions as big as 30 inches in diameter.
We tested several popular low-smoke fire pits to find out if they really improved the backyard bonfire experience. To see how these models fared, check out our test results on some of the top models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL WOOD: Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 Smokeless Fire Pit
- BEST OVERALL PELLET: Inno Stage Smokeless Wood Pellet Fire Pit
- RUNNER-UP: Breeo X24 Smokeless Fire Pit
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Blue Sky Outdoor Living The Ridge Smokeless Fire Pit
- BEST PROPANE: Outland Living Mega Smokeless Fire Pit
- BEST FOR PATIO: Solo Stove Yukon 2.0 Backyard Bundle Fire Pit
- BEST PORTABLE: Fireside Outdoor Pop-Up Smokeless Fire Pit
- BEST DESIGN: Tiki Brand Smokeless Patio Fire Pit
- BEST FOR CAMPING: Solo Stove Titan Compact Wood Stove
- BEST TECH: BioLite FirePit+ Wood & Charcoal Burning Fire Pit
- BEST TABLETOP: Solo Stove Mesa XL Tabletop Fire Pit
- ALSO CONSIDER: Flame Genie FG-16 Wood Pellet Fire Pit
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila
How We Tested the Best Smokeless Fire Pits
We determined that the most important factors in choosing a smokeless fire pit included high-quality construction, ease of transportation and assembly, longer burn time, low smoke, and less ash. With the exception of the gas fire pit, the testing process was virtually the same: Assemble the fire pit, light the fire, fill the burn chamber to capacity, and then observe the flame quality, burn-down time, and ash volume.
In terms of materials and construction, stainless steel scored best for overall durability, while other types of steel coated with high-temperature paint offer an affordable alternative.
When it came to portability, the top performers were smaller, lighter, included carrying cases, and burned a wider range of materials. One even included a protective heat shield that allowed it to be used on different surfaces.
To create smokeless fire, these pits have a dual-wall design and outstanding fuel ventilation with unobstructed airflow through the wall and beneath the fuel source, which is integral to top performance. These features also lead to the signature bright flame and reduced ash associated with smokeless fire pits. The best performers achieved the bright secondary burn quickly, sustained it longer, and thus produced less smoke and ash.
Our Top Picks
We tested some of the best smokeless fire pits categorized by size and fuel type. Read on to learn more about their construction and how each one performed.
This Solo Stove Bonfire wood-burning smokeless fire pit is 19.5 inches in diameter, which makes it large enough to warm a backyard living space. The double-wall design pulls in outside air through holes in the base and releases inside the top rim to provide oxygen for a secondary burn that minimizes smoke output.
A more efficient burn on this Solo Stove Bonfire pit also means finer ash that’s easier to clean up, with no leftover unburned chunks. At just over 20 pounds, it is lightweight enough to transport to a campground or tailgating event, and it also has a convenient carrying case with handles.
Solo Stove fire pits receive lots of attention, and after testing the Bonfire, we’ve got to say: It lives up to the hype. The model we tried came with two accessories: the stand (included in some upgrade kits) and the heat deflector (sold separately). After a quick, easy start using natural tinder and a few pieces of kindling, we loaded the burn chamber with firewood pieces about 12 inches long. There was a small amount of smoke while the walls heated up, but the smoke quickly dissipated once the large firewood was well lit. Within about 10 minutes, the secondary burn kicked in for a bright, cheerful display.
The burn down lasted about 2 hours after adding the last piece of wood. After about 3 hours, almost no material (coals or ash) was left inside the burn chamber. Overall, the visual flame quality, warming heat (especially with the heat deflector installed), and smoke control were excellent, though the heat deflector somewhat inhibits sightlines. Burn length was good, but fuel goes quickly because of the highly oxygenated burn chamber. This would be an excellent choice for backyard use, picnics, or base camping.
Read our full review: Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 Smokeless Fire Pit
- Material(s): Stainless steel
- Size: 19.5-inch diameter
- Fuel source: Wood
- Double-walled design delivers excellent flame quality, heat, and smoke control
- Produces almost no ash for easy cleanup after use
- Lightweight 20-pound construction; carrying case is included
- No ash drawer, which means you must wait for the entire pit to cool before cleanup
Get the Solo Stove Bonfire smokeless fire pit at Amazon, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Solo Stove.
A solid build, attractive finish, and versatile size make this model from Inno Stage one of the best pellet-fueled no-smoke fire pits around. At 15 inches in diameter (other sizes are available), this fire pit is large enough for a backyard hangout while still remaining portable.
Handles on the sides and a convenient carrying case make transporting this 15-pound fire pit even easier. Geometric designs in the vents and a stainless steel finish add to its aesthetics as well as its durability. A grate on the bottom and holes on all sides of the fire pit promote airflow for the heating chamber while eliminating smoke through secondary combustion.
Pellet fire pits were new to our testing team, so we were happily surprised at their ease of use. We loaded the Inno Stage fire pit with a 2-inch layer of wood pellets, applied an ounce or so of charcoal lighter fluid, and lit the pellets in several places. Within a minute or so, the surface was covered with flame, and a few minutes later, the flames reached about 18 inches above the pit, and the secondary burn began. The burn down lasted about 40 minutes, and a thin layer of glowing pellet embers was left smoldering. Within an hour, virtually all of the material in the chamber had burned up. The visual flame quality and smoke control were excellent, and the warmth was good. With its compact size and mess-free pellet fuel, this could make a convenient choice for urban dwellers and those with smaller patio spaces.
- Material(s): Stainless steel
- Size: 15-inch diameter
- Fuel source:Wood pellets
- Multiple sizes available to accommodate various outdoor spaces
- Lightweight, portable design with built-in handles and a carrying case
- Built-in grate for air circulation and maximum flame production
- Loses flame before all pellets are fully burned
- Metal became discolored after the first burn and may rust over time
Get the Inno Stage smokeless fire pit at Amazon.
Breeo competes closely with Solo Stove for the title of best smokeless fire pit. As with our top pick, it uses a dual-wall design to eliminate would-be smoke as it exits the top of the fire pit, creating a bright, warm, and pleasant atmosphere for an evening around the fire.
One big difference between the Breeo X-series and Solo Stove is the focus on durability versus portability. The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 incorporates thinner steel for an easy-to-carry build that weighs about 20 pounds, but the marginally larger Breeo X24 doubles down on heavy-duty construction, weighing in at 62 pounds. It measures 27.5 inches in diameter and burns 16- to 18-inch logs. This 304 stainless steel and corten-steel fire pit can reside outdoors year-round, exposed to the elements, where it will develop a rich earthy patina.
While the Breeo X24 is not especially portable, we loved the corten-steel fire bowl’s sturdy build and rustic style. Corten steel is a high-strength steel that weathers to an earthy iron-oxide finish. The oxidized surface seals off the material beneath, protecting it like paint so that it remains structurally sound. The stainless steel legs made a nice contrast, and both materials are equally durable. The X24 is alternatively available with a brushed stainless steel fire bowl for those who prefer the sleek, shiny look.
In action, the Breeo X24 performed exceptionally well. Because the fire bowl is so well oxygenated, thanks to 64 air-vent holes in a raised “X” pattern in the bottom, wood burns fast. We burned through two bundles of firewood in a little more than 4 hours our first time using it. There was no smoke as long as the wood was well seasoned, dry, and did not stick out above the rim. Poor-quality firewood (wet, green, or partially rotten) and overstuffing the firebox led to a higher likelihood of smoke.
This is an excellent heavy-duty fire pit for those who appreciate attention to detail. All of the welds were clean and smooth. The legs sat squarely on a hard flat surface, with no wobble before or after burning, no warping, and no unnecessary moving parts. The Breeo X24 is just a really good fire pit. Those who enjoy outdoor cooking will want to check out the array of Breeo Outpost grilling accessories that further extend the X24’s functionality.
Read our full review: Breeo X24 Smokeless Fire Pit
- Material(s): Stainless steel and corten steel
- Size: 27.5-inch diameter
- Fuel source: Wood
- Heavy-duty construction of 304 stainless and corten steel for extreme durability
- Through-the-floor ventilation maximizes airflow through the fire for improved efficiency
- Dual-wall design facilitates the secondary combustion that eliminates smoke
- Numerous cooking accessories sold separately to enhance the fire pit’s functionality
- At 62 pounds, the fire pit is one of the heaviest we tested and is not easily portable
- Price point is significantly higher than some similarly designed models
Get the Breeo smokeless fire pit at Ace Hardware (stainless steel), The Home Depot (corten steel), or Breeo.
This Blue Sky fire pit weighs less than 15 pounds, but it’s large enough to warm a backyard get together or a tailgating event. In addition to the manageable weight, the base detaches from the firebox and fits inside it, and a carrying case with a shoulder strap holds everything. The Blue Sky logo surrounding the base doubles as a vent to supply airflow to the firebox. It doesn’t have the stainless steel construction of other more expensive models but is made more affordable with its black alloy-steel construction.
In testing, we were impressed that this budget pick delivered a comparable performance to the Inno Stage, except the pellets burned up faster and cleaner. Construction is similar as well, but this model has more airflow coming through the pellet base grid, resulting in a faster, cleaner burn and higher flames. Burn-down time was about 35 minutes, and all material was burned up within 1 hour. It gave us outstanding visual flame quality with excellent smoke control and warmth, but this pit will need more pellets on hand to keep up with our Best Overall Pellet pick.
- Material(s): Alloy steel
- Size: 11.6-inch diameter
- Fuel source: Wood or wood pellets
- Value price with excellent smoke control and warmth
- Detachable base fits inside firebox, which then fits inside included carrying case
- Lightweight at less than 15 pounds for fantastic portability
- Padding or cover required under unit; can damage underlying surfaces
- Burns through pellets faster than the competition
Get the Blue Sky Outdoor Living smokeless fire pit at Amazon, Lowe’s, Target, Tractor Supply Co., or Blue Sky Outdoor Living.
With an easy-to-light design and no mess to clean up afterward, this Outland Living propane gas fire pit is a breeze to maintain. Boasting a powerful 58,000-British thermal unit (BTU) burner, this large gas unit is ideal for warming up a chilly backyard or campsite.
More than 4 pounds of lava rock cover the fire pit’s burner, while a 10-foot hose provides enough length to conceal the 20-pound propane gas tank required to fuel it. A large knob on the front of the fire pit controls the flame size, and four sturdy feet keep the firebox elevated safely off the ground.
If smoke-free burning is the top goal, then the Outland Living fire pit might be ideal. It arrived almost entirely assembled; we only needed to put it in place, install the lava rock, and attach a grill-size propane tank. The burner was a snap to light, and flame adjustment was equally easy. The fire didn’t offer the same visual entertainment value that we got from natural wood or wood pellets, but the heat radiating from the lava rock felt cozy. It bears mentioning that the 10-foot gas hose lies on the ground and could become a tripping hazard, especially after dark.
- Material(s): Alloy and stainless steel
- Size: 24-inch diameter
- Fuel source: Propane
- 58,000-BTU output sufficient to warm larger spaces, like campsites
- 4 pounds of lava rock as well as ultraviolet (UV)- and weather-resistant cover included
- 10-foot hose keeps propane tank out of site
- Large control knob makes it easy to adjust flame size
- Gas hose could be a tripping hazard if not properly placed
- Large size, long hose, and need for propane make it less convenient to transport
Get the Outland Living smokeless fire pit at Amazon, Wayfair, Outland Living, Bass Pro Shops, or Cabela’s.
Solo Stove’s Yukon fire pit was designed for decks and patios. An included stand allows you to raise the stainless steel fire pit for greater airflow. Other useful accessories include a shield that prevents sparks and embers from flying out of the pit and a weatherproof cover.
With a 27-inch diameter, the Yukon is one of the largest fire pits on the market. Despite its large girth, its double-wall design effectively eliminates smoke, even with bigger fires. Difficult to move for indoor storage, larger fire pits must endure the elements, and this model is well equipped to do so thanks to its stainless steel construction and weatherproof cover.
In our tests, the great-looking Solo Stove Yukon performed much like its Best Overall little brother, the Bonfire. However, this larger model doesn’t just “hold” more wood—the dual-wall functionality requires more firewood to deliver an experience comparable to the Bonfire. In our test burn, we used almost twice as much wood to fill the Yukon to achieve the secondary burn, but the burn down was only marginally longer at 2 hours and 15 minutes. The included stand and cover make the Yukon a great choice for patios and decks, and the spark shield is great for larger gatherings.
- Material(s): Stainless steel
- Size: 27-inch diameter
- Fuel source: Wood
- Stand and spark shield included for safe use on lawns, patios, and decks
- Double-wall design provides great performance
- Waterproof cover included; no need to move in between uses
- Requires more firewood to deliver an experience comparable to smaller models
Get the Solo Stove Yukon smokeless fire pit at Amazon, BBQ Guys, Best Buy, or Solo Stove.
The Fireside Outdoor fire pit is an ideal choice to bring along on any outdoor adventure. It features a collapsible aluminum frame, flexible stainless steel mesh fire surface, and an insulated heat shield to protect grass or other sensitive ground cover. This lightweight pit weighs just 8 pounds and packs into its own durable nylon carrying case. The assembled pit provides a 24-inch square platform with a 4-inch rim that safely holds up to 125 pounds of wood.
While this is neither a fire pit in the conventional sense nor truly smokeless, in our tests, it proved to be an excellent lightweight, packable, safe place to build a campfire. Assembly took about 50 seconds: Unfold the base, attach the heat shield with four Velcro straps, and install the four solid side rails and fine-mesh top onto the leg posts.
At that point, this Fireside Outdoor fire pit functioned like a breathable tabletop, elevating the fire about 12 inches above the ground. The added airflow and elevated height improved the visibility of the flame and seemed to decrease the smoke we experienced while seated around the fire. It would be a good choice for camping where there are no established fire rings.
- Material(s): Stainless steel and aluminum
- Size: 24-inch square
- Fuel source: Wood
- Weighs just 8 pounds but holds up to 125 pounds of wood
- Sets up in under a minute for quick use in any outdoor environment
- Collapsible design packs neatly into included carrying case
- Some ash filters through the stainless steel mesh
Get the Fireside Outdoor smokeless fire pit at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or REI.
With its dark-brown finish, metal bands that curve around the body, and design touches that include wood handles and wrought-iron feet, this fire pit from Tiki Brand has a sophisticated appearance.
Not only does this fire pit look good, but it also functions well, thanks to an internal airflow system that creates a more efficient burn while producing less smoke and ash than some other models. It comes with a removable ash pan to make post-fire cleanups easier. With a 25-inch diameter, this fire pit is big enough for a large backyard.
The largest pellet fire pit we tested, this attractive patio fire pit delivered a big, bright flame and plenty of smoke-free warmth. Two impressive standout features—a steel burn-assist cone and the light-the-bag wood pellets—make this unit a breeze to use. We placed the cone in the center of the pit, laid the bag of pellets on top, and simply lit the four corners of the waxed paper bag. The fire was going strong in mere minutes with no need for lighter fluid or dealing with a partial bag of pellets. (This pit can also be used with conventional firewood.) It provided a super-strong flame for about 30 minutes, and the remaining embers burned up by the 1.5-hour mark.
- Material(s): Stainless steel
- Size: 25-inch diameter
- Fuel source: Wood or Tiki Brand wood pack
- Wrought-iron feet, built-in handles, and powder-coated steel provide a sophisticated appearance
- Internal airflow system and light-the-bag pellets make for easy fire making
- Removable ash pan with decorative wooden handle is convenient and attractive
- Smaller burn chamber requires more frequent refilling
- Heavy weight at 43 pounds; best if covered and left in place between uses
Get the Tiki Brand smokeless fire pit at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Tiki Brand.
Weighing just over a pound and standing under 8 inches tall with a 5-inch diameter, this small stove is ready for a backwoods camping adventure. Unlike standard camp stoves, it burns small twigs, sticks, and other biomass that can be found on the forest floor.
Its stainless steel construction resists rust and corrosion, while a double-wall design reduces smoke output. The stove can reach temperatures hot enough to boil 34 ounces of water in just 5 minutes while the three-pronged stovetop can accommodate a small frying pan or pot.
Like the larger Solo Stove models, the Titan’s dual-wall design produced a big, bright flame with almost zero smoke while generating a surprising amount of heat for its size. In our test burn, we boiled a quart of water in less than 10 minutes, so we consider it a great choice for brewing coffee or cooking pasta and soup in the backcountry. However, the lack of thermal mass may limit its usefulness for more temperature-sensitive recipes.
- Material(s): Stainless steel
- Size: 5-inch diameter
- Fuel source: Twigs, sticks, or other biomass
- Effective double-wall design in a package small enough for backcountry use
- Boils a quart of water in 5 to 10 minutes
- Included 3-prong stovetop turns this fire pit into a cooking appliance
- Somewhat pricey for its small size
- Cannot burn large pieces of fuel, requiring you to gather small twigs and sticks
Get the Solo Stove Titan smokeless fire pit at Amazon or Solo Stove.
Can smart technology make campfires better? The BioLite FirePit+ creates highly efficient flames with patented airflow technology and provides better visibility into the fire than any other smokeless fire pit available.
The problem with many other fire pits is that they have solid walls that hide the base of the fire. The BioLite FirePit+ features X-ray mesh sides that allow you to actually see the fire. It incorporates a Bluetooth-ready rechargeable four-speed fan and over 50 air jets to eliminate smoke and improve campfire burn efficiency. The fire pit is compatible with firewood and charcoal, with a dual-setting fire grate and removable grilling grate.
The fan is powered by a 12,800-milliamp battery that runs for 30 hours on low, 14 hours on medium, or 7 hours on high. Fan speed is controlled manually or remotely via the free BioLite mobile app.
When we tested the BioLite FirePit+, the aspect that really stood out was its versatility. The lightweight build and foldable legs made it easy to transport and easy to use on the ground (as a fire pit) or on a tabletop (for convenient grilling). The sides, handles, and the surface beneath the fire pit didn’t get hot. We were able to pick up the fire pit by its handles with our bare hands while the fire was still burning. As a result, it was safe for any surface and safer than other fire pits for those walking nearby. We also really liked getting the full view of the fire. It absolutely glowed at night through the mesh sides.
One thing that felt odd and may be a con for some shoppers is the battery requirement. The FirePit+ operates up to 30 hours per charge, which was adequate for two or three fires, but it eventually needed to be recharged. Therefore, it may not be the best choice for extended wilderness camping. The only other drawback might be the appearance after many hours of use. The mesh is susceptible to slight warping with intense heat, and exposure to rain will cause rust.
Read our full review: BioLite FirePit+ Wood & Charcoal Burning Fire Pit
- Material(s): Stainless steel
- Size: 27 inches long by 13 inches wide
- Fuel source: Wood or charcoal
- Lightweight fire pit with foldable legs is easy to transport and safe to use on most surfaces
- X-ray mesh sides allow heat to radiate outward and provide an excellent view of the fire
- Multispeed fan maximizes airflow throughout the burn chamber for efficient fuel use
- Offers 2 different fire-grate height settings for burning either firewood or charcoal
- Recharging the fan battery may not always be practical or convenient while camping
- The appearance of the fire pit will take on a patina that some users may not love
Get the BioLite smokeless fire pit at Amazon, BioLite, Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cabela’s, L.L.Bean, or REI.
Love the wood fire aesthetic but lack the time or space for a big bonfire? The Solo Stove Mesa XL tabletop fire pit might be the perfect solution. This dual-wall 304 stainless steel fire pit uses the same 360-degree airflow system as the larger Solo Stove models, only it’s smaller. The stove comes with a foldable and packable stand, fire pit body, flame ring, and drawstring carrying case. When assembled, it measures 7 inches in diameter, 8.6 inches from tabletop to rim, and weighs just 2.3 pounds.
As with its larger peers, the Mesa XL lights quickly, burns efficiently, and produces almost zero smoke. Unlike larger fire pits, this model can burn small chunks of firewood or wood pellets. For a look that matches your decor and personality, choose from the standard stainless steel finish or five other color options.
The Solo Stove Mesa XL came out in early 2023 as a slightly larger variant of the original Solo Stove Mesa. The main benefits of the larger size are a larger flame and longer burn time. In our tests, the Mesa XL burned for about 1 hour, fueled by 2.25 pounds of wood pellets. Burn time with firewood varied between 45 minutes and 1.25 hours, depending on the size, shape, type, and condition of the firewood being burned.
The Mesa XL was comfortably sized for use on a coffee table without blocking eye contact with those seated on the opposite side. We appreciated that the feet on the foldable stand were equipped with a nonmarring, nonskid surface that protected the tabletop. As an added bonus, we toasted marshmallows over the fire using the Mesa accessory pack (sold separately). The kit included four stainless steel mini sticks, four stick rests to keep marshmallow mess off the table, a stainless steel pellet scoop, and a Mesa lid to cover the fire pit after it was burned down—all packable in a soft-sided carry case.
Most importantly, we noted the Mesa XL’s high score for smokelessness. Wood pellets did not produce smoke. Firewood occasionally produced traces of smoke, mostly when we overloaded the firebox with pieces extending above the rim. At the same time, it produced a high-quality flame and comforting warmth for cool weather. Just be sure and take care to prevent accidental contact with the exterior of the fire pit while it’s burning, as it does become dangerously hot.
- Material(s): Stainless steel
- Size: 7-inch diameter
- Fuel source: Wood or pellets
- Delivers an authentic wood-fire aesthetic in a smaller package; ideal for a low table
- Compatible with firewood up to 7-inches long and wood pellet fuel
- Shorter burn-down time and quicker cleanup after fire time is over
- Offers the same smokeless fire and secondary burn as the larger Solo Stove models
- Fire must be fed more frequently to facilitate an extended burn time
- Sides of the fire pit become extremely hot while in use
Get the Solo Stove Mesa XL smokeless fire pit at Solo Stove, Scheels, Nomadic Supply Company, or BBQGrills.com.
Weighing less than 14 pounds, this smoke-free fire pit is ready for the road. The base detaches and nests inside the firebox for transport. A convenient tote with handles holds both pieces and doubles as a cover that protects the fire pit from the elements.
Its simple double-walled design draws in air at the base as well as the bottom of the firebox to create an efficient burn while eliminating smoke. It comes in black alloy steel or durable stainless steel and uses wood pellets for fuel.
Of the three similarly sized wood pelletfire pits we tried, the Flame Genie burned its pellets the slowest. Because it has fewer vent holes and less air movement through the pellets, the flame was slightly lower than either the Inno Stage or Blue Sky Outdoor Living models. The restricted airflow also caused it to leave a deeper bed of glowing embers behind after the flame died down at around 40 minutes, but these faded away by the 2-hour mark. Essentially, this model provides a longer-lasting but slightly smaller (and still nicely animated) smokeless flame with good warmth. This could be the best choice for those with more confined space, where a large flame and higher heat may not be as desirable.
- Material(s): Stainless steel
- Size: 13.5-inch diameter
- Fuel source: Wood pellets
- Detachable base nests inside firebox for increased portability and more convenient storage
- Double-walled design has fewer vent holes than similar models, leading to a slower and more contained burn
- Lightweight 13.5-pound construction makes this fire pit easy to move
- Leaves more pellet matter behind after the flame dies as compared to other models
- Takes longer to burn down completely for storage
Get the Flame Genie smokeless fire pit at Amazon, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Target, or Overstock.
What to Consider When Choosing a Smokeless Fire Pit
While size and fuel type are the key characteristics, other important fire pit features include material, design, and safety. Ahead, learn about these and other attributes of smokeless fire pits.
Since smokeless fire pits are used outdoors and must endure extreme heat as well as the elements, they should be made from durable materials. Most smokeless fire pits consist of either stainless steel or steel alloy. Not only is stainless steel the more aesthetically pleasing of the two materials, but it also naturally resists rust and corrosion and can better withstand intense heat. Alloy steel, in comparison, must be stored indoors or protected with a rainproof cover to prevent rust. Moreover, alloy steel discolors under intense heat.
Stainless steel’s durability makes it superior to steel alloy. It also makes it more expensive: A stainless steel smokeless fire pit can cost twice as much as an alloy steel fire pit.
The size of a smokeless fire pit determines the size of the blaze it can create and the amount of warmth it can produce. Most models range between 14 and 20 inches high, while portable smokeless fire pits measure about 13.5 inches in diameter and are suitable for two to four people to gather around.
Larger models can measure up to 30 inches in diameter, which is large enough for gatherings of up to six people. Portable models typically weigh about 20 pounds or less, while large permanent fire pits can weigh more than 50 pounds. Smokeless fire stoves designed for backwoods camping weigh about a pound and measure just 5 inches in diameter.
Unlike classic DIY fire pits, smokeless models eliminate smoke and reduce ash thanks to their dual-wall design. The air space in the fire pit wall becomes a heat-powered convection chamber. It draws cool air in through the holes at the base of the outer wall, where it quickly heats before exiting the holes at the upper rim of the inner wall. That air provides the oxygen to ignite exhaust particles that would otherwise be given off as smoke.
This secondary burn is easily visible as streams of flame that appear to flow from the upper holes above the main fire. The best smokeless fire pits achieve the secondary burn phase quickly, continue that phase for a longer portion of time, and leave behind very little ash after the fire burns down.
Airflow (aka ventilation) is the other critical design factor that influences a bright flame and clean burn. In the reviews ahead, we use “burn down” to describe the time it takes the fire to go out after adding the last bit of fuel to the fire. In general, increased airflow through fuel causes a livelier flame and faster burn down. Fire pits built with a wire grid achieve maximum airflow for conventional wood-burning fire pits. The bases of pellet burners are made of sheet steel with holes drilled through, and those with the greatest density of holes offer the best ventilation.
Another design element that many shoppers find important is portability. Some portable fire pits have a collapsible design that allows the base to fit inside the firebox, which makes the unit more compact for transport. Many larger one-piece fire pits include a carry bag that helps to contain ash remnants and other messy bits. Be sure to consider these features when shopping for a portable fire pit.
Since smokeless fire pits burn very efficiently, they can reach much higher temperatures than a standard fire pit. Wood and pellet fire pits can reach temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and gas fire pits can produce more than 50,000 BTUs, which is more powerful than many gas porch heaters. This ability to reach extreme temperatures makes smokeless fire pits capable of warming a larger area than a standard fire pit of similar size.
Fuel Types and Efficiency
Smokeless fire pits use a variety of fuel types, including pellets, propane, and firewood. Propane smokeless fire pits are easy to light and produce no smoke at all; however, they don’t offer the same cozy campfire experience of a wood-burning fire. Moreover, they require a 20-pound propane tank for fuel.
Wood and pellet fire pits have the potential to burn hotter than gas fire pits, but they do produce ash. Gas models burn cleaner with fewer emissions than wood or pellets.
Though not as efficient as gas, wood pellets contain less moisture than wood and burn more efficiently than firewood. Pellets are less bulky and are better suited for smaller smokeless fire pits.
Ease of Use
Propane smokeless fire pits are the easiest models to start—simply push a button to light the fire—and there is no messy ash to clean up. A wood fire pit is started like a campfire, with a fire starter or natural tinder, kindling, and firewood. Once the fire is out, accumulated ash below the grate is dumped out when cooled and can be composted or bagged with trash. Pellets are drier than wood, making them easier to light, and ash cleanup is the same as for wood fire pits.
Smokeless fire pits don’t produce smoke and typically create less ash, so they are generally safer than their standard counterparts. However, they generate intense heat, so keep a fire pit at least 10 feet away from structures and place it on brick, stone, or some other type of masonry. Some fire pits include additional safety features, such as a screen to help prevent sparks from causing injury.
The relatively thin steel walls of smokeless fire pits cool as the fire burns out. Allow the fire to burn out on its own rather than attempting to put it out with water or other methods. When all smoke and smoldering stops and the wall of the fire pit has cooled to ambient temperature, it is safe to clean and store. Cooling time varies by size and the amount of material in the fire pit.
The main attraction of a fire pit is, well, fire—but some smokeless models do include a few accessories. There may be grates that allow the fire pit to be used for grilling food. Heat deflectors increase the warmth that those seated around the fire will experience. In some cases, a stand may allow the fire pit to be safely used on a wood deck, grassy area, or other sensitive surface, but other fire pit stands are a decorative part of the basic design. Portable versions usually include a storage bag with handles or a shoulder strap to make them easier to carry.
If you’re wondering which fire pits produce the most heat, which material is the most durable, or how to safely use a fire pit, keep reading for answers to these and other commonly asked questions.
Q. How do smokeless fire pits work?
A dual-wall design turns the fire pit wall into a heat-powered convection chamber. Cool air is pulled into the chamber through the holes at the base of the outer wall and quickly heats before exiting the holes at the rim of the inner wall. That air provides the oxygen to ignite exhaust particles that would otherwise have exited as smoke, making the fire pit smokeless.
Q. What kind of fire pit produces the most heat?
Wood-burning fire pits can produce flames that are much larger than those produced by gas fire pits and therefore give off the most heat. Of the wood fire pits, smokeless fire pits are the hottest, reaching temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Q. Which type of smokeless fire pit lasts a long time?
Stainless steel fire pits are significantly more durable than their alloy-steel counterparts because stainless steel resists corrosion and rust. Alloy-steel fire pits should either be stored indoors when not in use or protected with a waterproof cover.
Q. Does a fire pit need a liner?
No, a fire pit doesn’t require—and should not use—a liner. Adding a liner to a smokeless fire pit would inhibit the ventilation the fire pit needs to burn efficiently. However, a fire pit should be used only on nonflammable surfaces such as gravel or masonry.
Q. How do I clean a fire pit?
For lightweight fire pits, simply pick up the pit once it’s completely cool and dump the ashes in a garbage can. Larger fire pits require scooping out the ash leftover from the burned wood or pellets. Some fire pits feature removable ashtrays that make them easier to clean. To clean the exterior of a fire pit, use a stainless steel cleaner to remove any soot.
Q. Do smokeless fire pits keep mosquitoes away?
Sadly, no. These pests are repelled by the pungent smell of smoke, but since mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, which all fire produces, they often are attracted to gas and smokeless fire pits.
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Meet the Tester
Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industry. For more than 20 years, he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn-care products, and other outdoor living goods.
Additional research provided by Tony Carrick.