How to Build a Smokeless Fire Pit (9 Easy Steps)

  • by: Joshua Cooper
  • Reading time: 12 min.
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Smoke-filled fire pits! How many times do you move your chair to escape that pungent and tear-inducing gas? When all you want to do is relax and talk to friends, a windy day coupled with a smoky fire pit is a buzzkill.

Build A Smokeless Fire Pit

Do you think gas fire pits are just too expensive? We have three easy ways to make smokeless fire pits in detailed but straightforward steps. Plus, we will tell you all you need to know about fire pit installations and safety measures.

Things to Put in Mind Before You Build a Fire Pit

Here are the crucial things you should know when dealing with fire pits.


You have to position your unit strategically. Burning leads to soot and ash formation. Make sure to dispose of the ash and soot properly to save you from unwanted extra costs and ensure efficiency. Even if you are using a smokeless fire hole, you may not fully eliminate the presence of smoke.

The black sludge from smoke can mess with your furniture. Furthermore, it may clog your drainage system causing you to spend more on unclogging or reinstallations.

Make sure you keep your heater equipment away from structures. Fire accidents can happen at any time. With the right equipment, you can put it out before any severe damage.

Placing your smokeless heater to face your entrance can improve the aesthetics of your compound. Friends and guests can see it as soon as they enter.

Personal preferences also count when thinking about the position of your heater device. For instance, you may love how the city looks from a specific spot or the moon’s shimmer on a lake. Therefore, you may want your fire pit to be in a place where you can still enjoy these views.


There are many types of fuel available for you to use in your smokeless fire pit. The type of fire hole you want to get determines the fuel options you can opt for. Examples include wood, natural gas, propane, and so forth.

Some of these fuels produce harmful by-products to the environment. Smoke is a major environmental pollutant. When using wood, you need to engineer your fire pit uniquely to counter smoke production.

Gas fire pits will not produce smoke. You can use gas heater equipment both indoors and outdoors.

Seating Area

You can arrange the sitting area around your smokeless fire pit in many ways. The type of furniture you settle on depends on personal preferences, taste, budget, and convenience. For instance, you may want to get timber furniture or concrete seats to withstand the harsh climate.

Ensure your seats are away from the outdoor kitchen area. This is because you may do some grilling in the outdoor kitchen. The smoke that results from the grilling will inconvenience you since you want to enjoy a smokeless fire.

Smokeless fire pits don’t emit embers or pungent-smelling smoke that attaches to the fabric. Therefore, you can place sofas next to a smokeless fire hole without worry.

How Does a Smokeless Fire Pit Work?

A smokeless fire is non-existent even though we have smokeless fire pits. What you perceive as a smokeless fire is an illusion your smokeless fire pit creates courtesy of precise engineering. The unique design controls smoke and airflow to lower the overall smoke output in your heater unit.

This is how it works;

  • Air enters the fire pit from the bottom and comes out through its sides.
  • At the top of the fire, it mixes with smoke leading to a re-burn effect. That is why you see a lot of flames in your smokeless fire hole.

The re-burning effect, also known as secondary combustion, leads to reducing smoke production in your fire pit.

How to Build Diy Smokeless Fire Pits

The following steps will guide you on how to build a smokeless fire pit from scratch.

Step 1: Make Sure You Check on the Rules About Open Fires Within Your Locality

Confirm from the fire department on rules regarding a backyard fire. This is particularly necessary for areas such as highly populated cities and countrysides prone to wildfires.

In some cases, you may have to get a permit or notify officials every time you want to have an outdoor fire, however small it is.

Step 2: Gather All the Equipment You Need to Start the Smokeless Hole’s Construction

These include:

  • Concrete blocks, bricks, wall blocks, or paving stones
  • Gravel
  • Metal liner or fire bricks
  • Stake
  • Tape measure
  • String
  • Markers such as spray paint or chalk
  • Shovel
  • Tamp
  • Level
  • Fire-resistant mortar- optional

The total cost may range from 0-500 dollars, depending on the materials you have at home.

The walls of your fire pit should be at least 12” thick. You can effortlessly manage a fire pit with a diameter of one yard. Depending on the material used, whether stones or bricks, you can calculate how many pieces will need to cover your entire fire pit. These will determine the cost to get them.

You can decide on a smokeless hole of whatever dimensions. However, keep your fire pit within the 42-inch diameter mark. If you exceed this, you will waste a lot of fuel to get adequate heat for those sitting around. Not to mention, you will spend more cash and energy on the fire pit construction.

Step 3: Marking

You have to decide where to locate your fire pit. Position the fire pit away from any buildings or trees. Most local authorities will dictate that you position your fire pit 15-25’ away from structures. These also encompass things like patios and wood decks. Make sure to place your unit within the stipulated distance.

For effective marking;

  • Drive your stake into the ground to mark the center of where you will build the fire pit.
  • Attach a string half the size of the diameter you want to have, say 18”.
  • Tie chalk or spray paint can to the other end of the string.
  • Drag the string as you outline the area.

Step 4: Digging

To dig a 6” hole for a standard fire pit or a 12” for a deeper one;

  • Remove the stake.
  • Using a shovel, scrape out the topsoil and other things like grass.

Step 5: Dirt Levelling

Here is how you can go about the leveling process:

  • Stamp the dirt with your tamp to level it.
  • Use your level to ensure that the surface is even.

Step 6: Gravel Introduction

The ease of gravel application depends on the gravel sizes.

  • Pour gravel into the hole up to the hole’s surface.
  • Use your stamp to compact the gravel and level its surface.
  • Pack it entirely so that it does not get displaced. Displacement will make block construction difficult and of low quality.

Step 7: Block Laying

Lay the first circle of bricks, blocks, or paving stones. Do this while using your level to ensure even placement. You may insert gravel chunks underneath some blocks for precision.

Step 8: Wall Stacking

Continue adding the second and third layers to finalize your fire pit. While laying the blocks, offset them to make sure that your smokeless hole is sturdy.

If you are using blocks or paving stones, you have a structure that can support itself without using fire-resistant mortar or masonry adhesive.

However, if you want to seal your blocks, leave a few spaces open to act as vents. This allows air to get in and minimizes the amount of smoke your structure emits. Besides, there will be adequate oxygen to keep the fire going.

Step 9: Fire Ring and Fire Bricks Installation

While the smokeless structure you have so far is adequate for safe use, it may not be long-lasting. A fire ring or fire bricks increase their longevity purposes.

With online resources such as the amazon services LLC associates program, an affiliate advertising program, many content creators are endorsing their fire rings. However, if you want to save time from reading lengthy reviews, check out Zentro smokeless fire pit inserts.

Some fire rings fit along the top of your fire pit due to their extended design. However, others will fit right at the base of the fire pit because they lack this extension.

Here is how to place your fire ring.

  • Introduce your fire bricks after constructing the outer wall of your structure.
  • Use fire-resistant mortar to attach the fire bricks to the outer wall.
  • Leave a few spaces to allow for ample airflow for smoke minimization and sufficient combustion.
  • Wait for the mortar to dry totally before you begin using your fire pit.

What Is the Best Smokeless Fire Pit?

There are numerous smokeless fire pits around. The best smokeless heater depends on your preference. Some may prefer a smokeless fire pit because of affordability while others go for usability.

Below are smokeless fire pits available in the market today, listed with their pros and cons for you to choose from.

Dakota Fire Pits

A Dakota unit has immense benefits such as,

  • It conceals fire from enemies, prey, and so forth. It’s an ideal smokeless fire pit when going out for hunting.
  • It produces higher heat levels hence warmer than most fire pits.
  • It prevents the spread of fire by containing it within the hole.
  • It’s energy-efficient and requires less firewood for you to get the same results as other wood fire pits.
  • It’s easily portable. You can set it in many areas. Besides, you don’t have to carry heavy equipment with you. You can make a Dakota fire pit through improvisation.

On the downside,

  • It’s a bit tedious to dig the holes.
  • You can’t use it everywhere. There are some places you may find it challenging to create a Dakota fire. For example;
  • Rocky areas that may hamper digging.
  • Areas with thick trees
  • Wet ground or areas close to water sources
  • Areas with loose soils such as sand that cannot take shape

Rocket Stoves

If you like going on hunting or camping trips, a rocket stove can be a lifesaver.

Pros of a rocket stove:

  • It is time-saving to make a fire with it.
  • You won’t dirty yourself as much as with Dakota construction.

Cons of a Rocket Stove

  • Its price is not pocket-friendly.
  • It’s made of not so light materials; hence it can be a little strenuous to carry it from one place to another.

Before buying a rocket stove, check the essential features such as fuel type and weight.

Methods of Building Smokeless Fire Pits

Here are several ways on how to build a smokeless fire pit:

Charcoal Fire Pit Method

The materials you’ll need include:

  • Charcoal
  • A fire starter
  • Newspaper
  • Tinder

Procedure for the Charcoal Pit Method

  • Start by placing your bricks in a manner that will trap the most heat. You can use two to three blocks to contain your backyard fire and fuel.
  • Insert a piece of the newspaper within the brick enclosure and add three pieces of tinder. Arrange these tinder pieces centrally on top of the newspaper and in a triangular fashion.
  • Place a second triangular tinder layer on top of the first one. This time, interchange the direction so that the two tinder layers create a hexagonal star.
  • Repeat the same procedure in arranging the tinder pieces until you make a pile.
  • Introduce the fire starter into your fire pit and start a fire.
  • Gradually add charcoal to your fire pit once the fire starts to brighten.

Upside Down Fire Pit Smokeless Method

When using this method, you may experience smoke in the first few moments. However, once good airflow kicks in and your firewood catch fire, smoke production will reduce.

For the upside-down method for smokeless fire pits, you will need,

  • Logs of various sizes
  • Kindling
  • A paper


  • Pile the logs, starting with the large-sized ones, and progressing to smaller ones.
  • Stack a pile of kindling on top of the log pile. The size of kindling should be about two inches.
  • Take the paper and crumble it, then place it on top of your kindling.
  • Set the paper ablaze. It will burn and progressively spread the fire downwards, creating a smokeless fire.

You may find the interchanged log piling procedure quite different from how you usually do it. However, it is one of the best, cheap, and easy ways to make a smokeless fire in your fire pit.

Smokeless Dakota Heater Method

To make a Dakota fire pit, you’ll need:

  • Charcoal
  • Kindling
  • Shovel

How Do You Build a Vented Fire Pit?

  • Use your shovel to dig about a foot deep. Make the hole round with a diameter of about one foot. Once you get a good cylindrical shape, widen the bottom until you get a jug-like shape. This will help you create more room for the big pieces of wood.

Because of the jug-like shape:

  • You won’t have to waste time breaking up a lot of wood pieces.
  • You’ll have lagger fires hence hotter and warmer conditions.
  • The neck will act as a chimney to increase the draft effect. This concentrates the heat within the opening for hotter fires.
  • The next step is introducing a vent shaft. Determine the wind direction. If the draft is too light to detect, lick your thumb and hold it up. You’ll know the wind’s direction by feeling the side of your thumb that cools because of evaporation. That the direction you should dig your air vent.
  • Dig another hole a foot away from the previous one. The second hole should be approximately six inches in diameter and angle in the first one.
  • Join the vent shaft with your fire hole. Dig the second hole halfway to make things simpler. After that, dig from your fire hole to connect it to the second hole.
  • Get a fire going using kindling, charcoal, and nearby firewood.
  • If you want to cook something, use a new sapling grid over the heater hole. Alternatively, you can get an iron grate.

When building a Dakota fire pit, ensure you follow the local rules concerning fire-making. Also, try not to destroy plant roots in the process. Do not make a Dakota fire pit in areas where tinder and other flammable materials lie around carelessly.

Making a Smokeless Fire Using the Charcoal Method

Advantages of the Charcoal Method are

  • Affordable
  • A little simpler than constructing Dakota units

Cons of the charcoal method are:

  • It’s more tedious than getting Zentro fire pits.
  • It’s not as energy-efficient as the Dakota fire pit.
  • It’s not as hot as the Dakota fire pit; hence food cooks slower.
  • Handling charcoal can leave you quite dirty.

The Smokeless Fire From the Upside Down Method


  • It’s simple to set up.
  • It is affordable.
  • You’ll not get dirty as with the Dakota fire pits and charcoal methods.


  • You have to find firewood.
  • It requires more firewood than Dakota fire pits.


Can You Build a Fire Pit on Dirt?

Yes, you can build a smokeless fire pit on dirt. However, you will need to level the surface and apply fire-resistant material on top of it. This is to prevent the fire from accidentally spreading.

Moreover, the area around your fire pit should have fire-resistant material.

What Are Some of the Smokeless Fuels Available?

Propane and natural gas in gas equipment produce no smoke at all. However, if you have a smokeless unit that relies on kindling methods, go for anthracite and coke.

Final Words

With your smokeless fire pit in place, there is still one vital thing you need. Ensure you have bug repellant to ward off insects. By eliminating smoke, you also eliminate the natural bug protection mechanism your fire was providing.

You can also introduce aroma sticks to your fire to make the smell more pleasant. With all these measures around your smokeless structure, you and your friends will enjoy spending more time together, enjoying some small talk around your fire pit.