How to Make a DIY Smokeless Fire Pit

A smokeless fire pit allows you to enjoy a cozy fire without dealing with excessive smoke. DIY smokeless fire pits are easy to make and can be customized to suit your style. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to make your own DIY smokeless fire pit.

Choose a Location

When deciding where to build your smokeless fire pit, consider the following:

  • Pick a spot at least 10 feet away from your house or any structures to prevent fire hazards.
  • Consider wind direction to avoid blowing smoke towards your house. The downwind side is ideal.
  • Choose a location on dirt or gravel rather than wood decking or grass to prevent ember damage.
  • Check local ordinances for any restrictions on open fires in your area.

Once you’ve selected the perfect spot, mark it off with stakes or chalk so you’ll know where to dig.

Make a Fire Pit Ring

The fire pit ring contains and focuses the fire. Here are some ring material options:


Reuse an old washing machine drum, tractor tire rim, or metal pipe to make a sturdy ring. Bury it halfway into the ground.

Bricks or Retaining Wall Blocks

Stack them up in a circle at least 2-3 layers high. This inexpensive option allows lots of customization.


Use large flat stones or make a mortared stone ring for a natural look. Bury stones halfway or build above ground.

Aim for a ring with at least 24-36 inch interior diameter so you have ample fire pit space.

Dig the Fire Pit

Mark a circle about 4 inches wider all around the outside of the ring and dig down about 6-12 inches deep. The graded slope allows oxygen intake and promotes air flow for a smokeless burn.

Add Gravel Base

Put down a 5-6 inch thick layer of gravel or crushed stone inside the pit to promote airflow. Pea gravel offers excellent drainage too.

Install Firebricks or Metal Grate

Line the inside of the pit with high heat resistant firebricks or perlite concrete blocks. Or install a durable metal cooking grate for holding logs.

Firebricks radiate heat and prevent damage to the actual pit. Grates let ashes fall through providing ventilation.

Create Seating Area

Customize your hangout space by arranging gravel, pavers, stones or logs around the fire pit. Add metal benches, adirondack chairs or patio furniture.

Follow Safety Tips

  • Keep a fire extinguisher and hose nearby in case of emergency.
  • Never leave the fire unattended.
  • Extinguish fire completely before leaving the area.
  • Avoid using accelerants like gasoline or kerosene which can easily get out of control.
  • Check local burn ban restrictions if drought conditions exist.

Pick the Right Fuel

The type of fuel you burn significantly affects the smoke output. Here are some low-smoke options:

  • Seasoned Hardwoods – Oak, maple, ash or birch produce less smoke. Allow 1-2 years of drying time.
  • Compressed Firelogs – Made of compacted sawdust and wax, these slow-burning logs reduce smoke.
  • Gas Logs – Propane or natural gas fire pits emit negligible smoke.
  • Ethanol Fuel – Special fireplaces use clean-burning liquid ethanol.
  • Pellet Fuel – Compressed wood pellets create very little smoke.

Avoid pitchy softwoods like pine or spruce that smolder and put out more smoke. Also bypass wet, unseasoned wood which smolders rather than burns.

Utilize Design Options to Cut Down on Smoke

Integrating certain features into your DIY fire pit design reduces smoke:

  • Chimney – Adding a tall chimney provides an escape route for smoke while strengthening airflow.
  • Air Vents – Strategically placed vents or holes allow oxygen in for improved airflow.
  • Steel Mesh Screen – Putting a mesh cover over your fire pit traps embers while still promoting air circulation.
  • Drainage Layer – Filling the base with pea gravel or lava rock allows moisture drainage and airflow from the bottom up.
  • Smoke-Reducing Fuels – As mentioned above, utilize recommended low-smoke burning fuels.

Maintain Proper Air Flow

The key to a smokeless fire is plenty of oxygen. Here are some tips for optimal airflow:

  • Stack logs in a teepee formation to allow ample airflow between them.
  • Let the fire burn hot before fully loading up the pit with wood.
  • Periodically poke and rake the logs to create air pockets.
  • Position larger logs on the bottom for high airflow underneath.
  • Keep the surrounding ground surface graded to promote air intake from below.

Monitor Environmental Factors

Weather and wind can also affect smoke patterns:

  • Avoid building a fire when there is no breeze to dissipate smoke.
  • Be aware of wind direction and situate seating upwind of the pit if possible.
  • Windy conditions can stoke the fire too much causing excess smoke.
  • Extremely dry environments contribute to increased smoke production.

With strategic fire pit placement, fuel selection and a good understanding of airflow dynamics, you can enjoy smoke-free backyard fires for years to come. Your DIY smokeless fire pit creates the perfect atmosphere to unwind in comfort with family and friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

How deep should a fire pit be?

A good depth for an efficient smokeless fire pit is around 12-18 inches deep and 4 inches wider than the fire ring. This allows sufficient oxygen intake for the fire.

What is the best way to start a smokeless fire?

Begin with a teepee of kindling and smaller logs. Allow this starter material to catch fire and burn hot before gradually adding larger logs. Starting small builds heat and airflow.

What materials can I use for a DIY smokeless fire pit?

Good options are metal rings, bricks, stone, firebricks or metal grill grates for the interior. Use gravel or crushed stone as the base material. Avoid flammable materials like wood framing.

Should I put sand at the bottom of my fire pit?

Sand is not ideal because it suppresses airflow from the bottom up. Opt for pea gravel or crushed stone instead which allow oxygen movement.

How close can a fire pit be to a house?

A DIY fire pit should be situated at least 10 feet away from your home or any buildings to prevent fire risks. Check your local ordinances as well.


Installing your own smoke-free fire pit lets you enjoy the ambiance of an open fire any time. Strategic pit construction using non-flammable materials, proper ventilation, suitable wind barriers and ideal fuel selection determines how smoke-free your fire will be. Positioning the pit an optimal distance from structures also cuts down on unwanted smoke. With this comprehensive guide, you can create a DIY smokeless fire pit that provides the perfect backdrop for outdoor fun with family and friends.