How to light a fire pit and stop it smoking

Getting a fire pit or portable fire pit going isn’t always the easiest thing. In this article we want to take a look at how to light a fire pit and hopefully stop it smoking too much in the process. One of the worst things about getting any fire going, be it charcoal bbq, portable charcoal bbq, garden incinerator, or our trusty fire pit is the smoke. One of the worst things to annoy your neighbours is destroying their freshly washed laundry 😀 so we are going to take a look at what will help reduce the smoke too.

You don’t just use a fire pit to keep warm, it can also be the focal and gathering point for any social event. This is particularly important if you consider the current climate we are in with Covid. So getting hands on and learning how to light a fire pit with relatively small amounts of smoke is an absolute must!

How to light a fire pit without lighter fluid

What could be worse than starting a bbq with lighter fluid? If you’re honest you really do not need chemicals or paraffin to get a fire pit going nicely. The best way to start a fire pit without the use of lighter fluid is kindling wood or small sticks that are dry. These work best when used in conjunction with a bit of newspaper. Because the sticks are so small – as is kindling wood, they take to flame really easily.

You won’t get rid of all smoke but you certainly can get rid of most smoke. Smoke will also not be prolonged either if you follow this method. The likelihood is that you’ll suffer no more than a couple of minutes with smoke following this method.

How to start a fire pit with sticks

When you start a fire with sticks you want to be sure that the moisture content is low and the sticks are as dry as possible. This will mean the sticks need to either have been kept in a dry place for a few weeks or dried out in an already raging fire. Both ways will get rid of the moisture but using green timber will give off some smoke and steam so worth avoiding this if you’re really trying to run a clean fire.

Once the kindling takes then you can move onto larger timber progressively until you have a raging fire pit with little to no smoke at all. At this point you want to then keep the fire going strong so that it does not smoke

How to keep a fire pit going so it doesn’t smoke

Once a fire is up and running maintaining it is that much easier. It’s a simple case of ensuring that you feed the fire with nice dry wood or charcoal. Preferably you’ll burn wood as this has a much higher chance of staying lit with an aggressive flame. While charcoal is hot, it will not spark into flame quite as easily as good dried logs. So really the best thing to dod (unless you’re cooking is try to avoid the use of charcoal in this case). If you’re cooking then charcoal on top of a raging fire will cook down to a nice white ember quickly. The result will be a nice hot bed of coals to gently cook food with minimal smoke 🙂

How to light a fire pit without smoke

There are a few great ways to get a fire going without smoke. We already discussed the benefit of using kindling wood or sticks. Another great eco friendly way of starting a fire is eco firelighters. As you can see from the picture they are just a small bundle of stringy wood like material which will burn with a pretty intense flame for about five to ten minutes. This is absolutely ample to get a fire going and you are certain to be reasonably smoke free if you use these in conjunction with a reasonable amount of kindling wood.

Follow this up with some smaller logs and you’ll be set. Not only is this method low in smoke, it is also visually one of the most attractive ways to create a fire. There’s nothing quite like staring into an intense burning flame 🙂

The other way you could light a fire with a reasonably small amount of smoke is the good old fashioned firelighters. Whilst I dod not like these chemical laced paraffin fire starters because they give off a slightly unpleasant odour, they are actually extremely effective and well worth keeping in the shed just in case you happen to run low on kindling wood, they are a great alternative.

Just place a few firelighters in amongst a pile of medium sized logs and you’ll have a fire going in absolutely no time at all. The best thing about this method is the sheer ease of it. You really can get a fire lit in minutes with no fuss at all.

How to light a gas fire pit

Lighting a gas fire pit is relatively straight forward. You want to keep yourself at arms length from the fire pit itself an then use a safety fire lighter or extremely long match to give you even further distance from the flame itself. Wearing some king of denim jacket to protect your arm from an initial surge of gas burn isn’t a bad shout either. I have on occasion been caught out and ended up with a few signed hairs on my arm.

The only problem with gas is the fact that you need to store a gas bottle and then subsequently replace it when empty. This means if you want to run a fire pit continuously you’ll need at least two gas bottles. One way or another though a gas or wood fire pit is a super evening experience. You don’t just use one to keep warm, it can also be the focal and gathering point for any social event. This is particularly important if you consider the current climate we are in with Covid.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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