It seems simple, you buy a fire pit, get some wood, and light it on fire. But anyone who has used a fire pit for the first time will know that choosing what kind of wood to use is not that simple. There are things that must be considered when deciding what you will burn in your fire pit.
- What kind of emissions are released
- How hot does the wood burn
- How fast does the wood burn
What kind of wood do you use for a fire pit? The best kinds of wood to use for a fire pit are hardwoods like oak, birch, and beech. Hardwoods burn hotter and longer. They generally produce a cleaner burn than softwoods. This means you will get less dangerous emissions when burning hardwood.
Softwood like pine burns faster than hardwoods. Pine can be good to use for starting your fire.
How to properly season wood for burning?
Any wood will burn in a fire. The question of seasoned wood versus non-seasoned wood has to do with the quality of the burn. If you don't season your wood, it will smolder. Smoldering puts off a lot of smoke. This makes standing around your fire very unpleasant.
What is seasoned wood? Seasoned wood is wood that has been allowed to properly dry out. It is wood that is mostly free of moisture and sap. Seasoned wood looks dry and has cracks that are reminiscent of dried wood.
You can tell if wood is seasoned or not by smacking two pieces together. Properly seasoned wood will make a clanging sound when hit together. Unseasoned, or green wood, will make a thud sound when hit together.
How much firewood do I need for a fire pit?
Choosing the right amount of wood to buy or cut for your fire pit can be challenging. The decision comes down to a few factors.
- How often will you use your fire pit?
- How much space do you have to store fire wood?
- How much money do you want to spend at one time?
If you are only going to use your fire pit once or twice a year, you only need to buy a small bundle from your local hardware store. If you plan on using your fire pit often, then you should look for a local supplier that can supply you with large amounts of wood at one time.
Before buying a lot of wood, make sure you have a good, dry area to store your wood. Your wood has to remain dry. Underneath a porch or patio cover works best.
The third factor to decide is how much money you want to spend. If you are willing to put out a few extra dollars now, you may be able to save more. Of course, you have to have a good place to store the extra wood. Storing it in a poor location will cost you more money if the wood becomes unusable.
Is it OK to burn pine in a fire pit?
You will usually see people on one side or the other when it comes to burning pine in your fire pit. I don't think it is a black or white issue. At a base level, it is perfectly fine to burn pine in your fire pit. Your fire pit won't explode or melt.
The big issues with deciding to use pine have to do with temperature, smoke, and soot. Pine is a softwood with a lot of sap in it. This means it will burn fast and hot. It also means it will put off a lot of smoke. More smoke means you will be exposed to more dangerous emissions.
With all of that said, it is still safe to burn pine in your fire pit. You just need to take some precautions. First, don't put too much pine wood in your fire pit or it may get too hot. The high temperatures may damage your fire pit, particularly if it is made of aluminum. Next, make sure you stand a safe enough distance away from the fire pit so you don't breath the smoke. If there is a breeze out, position your seating in the direction of the breeze and away from the smoke blow off.
Chemical emissions from burning wood
Anytime you burn something there are gases, vapors, and particles emitted. Some of these emissions are not too dangerous, but others are dangerous. You have to be concerned with carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxide, and nitrogen oxide. These gases can be detrimental to your health. They can cause serious injury and lose of life.
Wood alternatives for fire pits
An alternative to burning regular wood logs are wood pellets and logs made from sawdust and recycled wood. These burn much cleaner than regular wood logs.
These solid wood alternatives boast an up to 80% reduction in emission as opposed to burning wood. You can find fire logs at many general stores and online. The in different scents. Some of the more unique scents available are coffee and KFC chicken.
Wood you should not use
As we said earlier, all wood will burn. But there is some wood that you should not use in your fire pit; painted or stained, pressure treated, and wood with other objects embedded are all dangerous to use in your fire pit.
Painted and stained wood should not be used in your fire pit. The paint or stain will burn off releasing chemicals into the air. Anyone standing nearby will breath these chemical emissions.
Pressure treated wood contains harsh chemicals. Pressure treated wood should not be used in a fire pit.
Any wood with nails or other objects embedded in it should not be used in your fire pit. As the wood burns, the objects can become heated and possibly become projectiles that are launch out of your fire pit.
Best smelling wood for fire pit
What smells good and what does not smell good are really personal preferences. So I will just give you my preferences here as a recommendation, but you will have to determine what wood you feel smells the best.
Oak and maple are the best smelling wood when they are burned. Oak has a rustic, sharp smell when it burns. It reminds me of an old log cabin. Maple has a sweet smell when it burns. Just think of maple syrup or maple bacon.
Best wood for fire pit cooking
You can cook on your fire pit with many different types of wood. The best woods for cooking on your fire pit are hickory, oak, and apple.
You may also want to try pear, pecan, mesquite, and cherry. Each of these types of wood add their own unique flavors.
Best wood for fire pit no smoke
All wood will produce some smoke when it burns. Your best option for producing less smoke is to use a dry, seasoned hardwood in your fire pit. Any wood that is fresh will produce more smoke. These are know as green wood.
Green softwood will produce the most smoke. So, don't burn green pine or any green wood in your fire pit if your don't want smoke.
Where to buy wood for fire pit
Fire wood for your fire pit is available at many places to buy. If you live near a large general store or department store, you can usually find fire wood in there hardware department. You won't be able to buy large amounts. They should have small boxes of fire wood and wood alternative logs for your fire pit.
Also, search the internet or ask around about locals that sell firewood. There should be at least one person in your area that sells firewood from there home or small business.
You can always order firewood for your fire pit online through Amazon.
Wood won't burn in fire pit
There could be several reasons that you wood won't burn in your fire pit. First, make sure that your wood and the inside of the fire pit aren't wet. The wood for you fire pit don't have to be soaked to prevent the wood from burning. Even a little dampness can make it hard for your wood to burn.
If water is not your problem, make sure that there is enough air flow around your wood. If your fire pit is deep and you have a bunch of logs restricting air flow, then you may not get enough oxygen to your wood for it to burn.
Air is need for a fire to burn, but too much air, in the form of wind, can quickly put your fire out. If you are trying to get you wood started in your fire pit and it is windy, your flames may be extinguished fast.
Burning rotten wood in your fire pit
It's not a good idea to burn rotten wood in your fire pit. Rotten wood is deteriorating because different bacteria and insects are breaking it down. This rotting process allows mold, mildew, and fungus to grow on it and inside it. When you burn rotten wood the spores from all of these unwanted organisms are released into the air via smoke. This has the possibility of making you sick.
In addition, rotten wood will burn fast. It will not give you a good fire in your fire pit.
Fire pit wood holder
There are a few different options you can use for holding your fire pit wood. You can purchase a metal holder from a hardware store. You can build a holder out of wood. You can use an existing shelving unit. You can just stack the wood in a dry spot on the ground.
Other options you may want to consider for your wood holder are:
You can burn many different kinds of wood in your fire pit. You can even use alternative wood products that are formulate for fire pits. Before choosing what you will burn in your fire pit, consider what is available to your, how much you want to spend, and where you are going to store it.
Also, consider what the short term and long term effects of breathing some of the emissions will do to your health. Though you should try to avoid breathe any of the emissions, it is inevitable that you will breath some.
Wood needed for proper stacking in your fire pit
Stacking wood in your fire pit really has to do with starting your fire. Improperly stacked wood will not catch fire well. Properly stacked wood will make it easy to get your fire started and keep it burning.
To stack your wood in your fire pit, you need several elements. These elements are kindling, small sticks, medium pieces of wood, and large pieces of wood. See our article on stacking wood in your fire pit to learn the correct way to get your fire started.
List of firewood
Silver maple - use as a shoulder wood in cold environments and a regular season wood in warmer environments.
Red maple - nice medium heat wood.
Poplar - light wood that burns fast.