why is my fire so smokey

Why is my fire so smokey? (And 6 ways to prevent it)

It’s a cool night and you have everyone gathered around the fire. You strike the first match, dreaming of the glorious blaze that will soon ignite everyone’s imagination.

But instead, nothing but thick smoke billows from your carefully built fire. People step away from the fire so they can breathe, kids demand to know when they can make s’mores, and you’re left scratching your head trying to figure out why this fire is so smokey.

In this article, we’ll explain the main reasons your fire is so smokey, plus we’ll provide some easy solutions.

Ultimately, the quality of your fire will come down to the quality of your wood. Like many things in life, great firewood creates great fires, and bad firewood creates bad fires. If you just want to get the best firewood available, then you can skip all the details below and order now.

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Why you don’t want a smokey fire

Every fire will create some smoke, but some fires can create a lot more smoke than others. Dark smoke is unpleasant for many reasons: it makes your eyes burn, it can make it hard to breathe, it will make you smell bad, and it can completely ruin a fun fire.

Fires are meant to be beautiful, so when the flames get replaced my nasty smoke it ruins the mystique of the fire.

People will sit further away to avoid the smoke (or they will leave) and miss out on the warmth the fire provides. Speaking of warmth, a smokey fire will produce less warmth than one with dancing flames.

kids cooking marshmellows on a fire that is not smokey

If you’re trying to cook over a fire, whether it’s s’mores or hot dogs or a full and fancy meal, dark smoke does not add good flavor. Clear, blue smoke on the other hand can add incredible wood smoked flavor. The dark smoke also makes it tough to get close enough to the fire as well.

For all these reasons and more, you don’t want a smokey fire.

So what causes some fires to be smokier than others?

Why your fire might be so smokey

There are several reasons your fire might be too smokey. Let’s explore the 5 most common causes:

1) You’re using wet wood: 

Wet wood will always create smokier fires. There are a couple reasons for this. First, the moisture in the wood will burn off and turn into steam. This steam mixes with the smoke of the burning wood and makes the smoke much thicker than if you used dry wood.

Wet wood is also problematic because it prevents the wood from burning as hot. Smoke will start at lower temperatures than flame, so if your wood is smoldering it will create a lot of smoke. When the fire gets hotter, it will create more flame and less smoke. Wet wood makes this difficult.

In order to prevent this, make sure you burn only quality, kiln dried firewood that is dry and dense. Cutting Edge Firewood, for instance, has a moisture content that is less than 10%. Green firewood (freshly cut or fallen from a tree) will have a moisture content of 50%, and seasoned firewood will contain 20-30% moisture. This is a significant reduction in moisture content and, therefore, will create a significantly less smokey fire.

2) You’re burning wood with mold or fungus:

If you use seasoned firewood or wood that has sat outside for too long, it could grow mold or fungus. When you burn this wood, it will burn off the mold and fungus and these things create a lot of smoke. Not only that, they aren’t exactly the kind of thing you want released into the air near your friends or family.

Seasoned firewood can be moldy and wet and cause smokey fires

Inspect your firewood for fungus or mold and don’t burn it if it isn’t clean. Once again, choosing to burn kiln dried firewood will prevent this from being a problem. The kiln drying process kills all mold, fungus, and bugs and creates a safer, cleaner burn for you and your family.

3) You’re burning yard debris:

It can be tempting to start a fire with leaves, pine straw, or pinecones. They can sometimes create a quick flame, but they can also create a lot of smoke.

Often times, yard debris is still quite wet (either because it has freshly fallen or because of the weather). This moisture will contribute to the smoke. Yard debris also reduces oxygen flow, which makes it harder for the fire to heat up and burn well. Yard debris can also have dirt or sap in it, which will also add to the smoke levels of your fire.

Instead, we recommend using all natural fire starters and quality kindling. You’ll get a clean burn that will heat up quickly and make it much easier to light your larger logs. Each of our boxes of firewood contain a small sampling of fire starters and kindling, but we also sell a complete fire starter package with enough starters and kindling for 15-25 fires.

4) You aren’t letting your fire breathe:

A good fire needs three things: heat, a fuel source, and oxygen. If you stack your logs too tightly together, it reduces the available oxygen and can really make it hard to get a fire going. This can snuff flames out (sometimes before they even start) and cause the wood to smolder instead of burn. When the wood smolders, it creates more smoke.

The trick is to stack your firewood logs so that they are close enough to share heat, but far enough away that they can still breathe. If you want to learn how to stack, start, and maintain a fire then make sure you watch this video:

5) You’re burning trash:

Burning trash is always a bad idea. While you probably aren’t out there trying to burn an entire week’s worth of garbage, it can be tempting to toss in some food wrappers or solo cups into the fire when you’re done using them while sitting by the fire.

Don’t do it! Any kind of trash will add to the smoke and could release toxic fumes into the air that will be bad for everyone.

Keep the fire clean from trash and everyone will have a better experience.

6) You’re using softwoods like pine

It’s easy to find softwoods lying on the ground in many parts of America. Pine trees drop limbs like it’s their job, and the wood can light up pretty easily once dry.

Only problem is, pine trees contain a resin like substance that burns and creates dark smoke. Softwoods also are not great for your fire pit or fireplace because they burn so quickly.

It’s ok to use a small piece of heartpine as a fire starter – it will light easily and burn quickly to help get your kindling lit. Because the piece is small, it won’t create too much smoke and it actually creates a really nice aroma.

Otherwise, it’s important to always choose hardwoods over softwoods for building a fire. Evergreen trees are typically softwoods, whereas tree that are deciduous and create leaves are hardwoods. Good hardwoods include cherry, oak, and hickory.

Where to get firewood that is less smokey

If you wanted to summarize all the causes of a smokey fire into a single thing, it is ultimately about the quality of your firewood. If you burn good wood, you’ll have a good fire.

The only problem is, it can be really hard to source firewood that is consistently good quality. You might grab a bag of firewood from the grocery store that works well, but your next bag could be a total disaster. You might get a delivery on your driveway one year that burns ok, but the next load could be wet and moldy.

Cutting Edge Firewood was founded for this very reason – we were tired of the consistently poor quality of the firewood industry. We worked with suppliers to develop the most rigorous and consistent drying process in the world.

All of our firewood gets cut while fresh and placed into a kiln for 48 hours at 250 degrees – this is 12 times more rigorous than the USDA requirements for kiln dried firewood. This means our wood is consistently dry, dense, and clean. It provides a great burning experience every time you use it.

The other challenge with obtaining good firewood is knowing where to go. Fortunately, with Cutting Edge Firewood, you don’t have to go anywhere! We bring the firewood directly to you. We offer a complimentary delivery artisan service to a growing network of places including Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and more! If you’re not in our delivery artisan network than no worries – we also ship our firewood nationwide.

It’s never been easier to obtain quality firewood than ever before, so place an order with Cutting Edge Firewood today. We’re confident you will love the firewood and have a great experience!

  • Cherry Firewood Box

    $69.00

    There is a reason George Washington cut down his father’s cherry tree: it makes for some incredible firewood! Cherry displays beautifully, burns less hot than hickory or oak, and it offers a subtle sweet aroma that will provide your home with a welcoming atmosphere for your family and guests alike.  Our Cherry Firewood is absolutely amazing.  This is our all around favorite firewood box.  

    This box of cherry firewood includes everything you need for 2-4 amazing fireside experiences, including fire starters, kindling, matches, and firewood. See full details below.

  • Cherry Firewood Rack

    $299.00

    There is a reason George Washington cut down his father’s cherry tree: it makes for some incredible firewood! Cherry displays beautifully, burns less hot than hickory or oak, and it offers a sweet aroma that will provide your home with a welcoming atmosphere for your family and guests alike.  Our Cherry Firewood is absolutely amazing.  

    Our patent metal rack of cherry is 2′ wide and 4′ tall with enough quality firewood for 15-25 amazing fireside experiences. View more details below.

    Firewood Rack Service

    Cutting Edge Firewood proudly offers firewood rack services nationwide. 

    • If you live within our “local delivery network” (Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Greenville and greater metro areas) you will receive a metal rack personally delivered by our Artisans.
    • If you live outside of our “local delivery network” across the United States, our rack products will be shipped via a freight company in a wooden rack to the end of your driveway.  Upgrade to Cutting Edge Firewood Metal Rack is available via phone.
  • Fire Starter Package

    $59.00

    The Cutting Edge Firewood Complete Fire Starter Package includes everything you need to start over 20 fires quickly and easily. Each package includes:

    • Oak Kindling
    • Excelsior Fire Starters
    • Heart Pine Bundle
    • Cigar Matches

    Ignite your fire with a single match using the Cutting Edge way. Check out our how-to video in the details section below so you can master the single match light every single time! If you’re after actual firewood logs as well, don’t forget to check our firewood options!

  • Hickory Firewood Box

    $59.00

    Hickory is our best seller, and for good reason. Kiln dried hickory firewood burns hotter and longer than any other firewood we offer. The signature aroma and crackle bring back positive memories from childhood and make it a customer favorite. Enthusiasts and casual burners alike have something to love.

    This box of hickory firewood includes everything you need for 2-4 amazing fireside experiences, including fire starters, kindling, matches, and firewood. See full details below.

  • Hickory Firewood Rack

    $299.00

    Hickory is one of our best sellers, and for good reason. Kiln dried hickory firewood burns hotter and longer than any other firewood we offer. The signature aroma and crackle bring back positive memories from childhood and make it a customer favorite. Enthusiasts and casual burners alike have something to love.

    Our patent metal rack of hickory is 2′ wide and 4′ tall with enough quality firewood for 15-25 amazing fireside experiences. View more details below.

    Firewood Rack Service

    Cutting Edge Firewood proudly offers firewood rack services nationwide. 

    • If you live within our “local delivery network” (Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Greenville and greater metro areas) you will receive a metal rack personally delivered by our Artisans.
    • If you live outside of our “local delivery network” across the United States, our rack products will be shipped via a freight company in a wooden rack to the end of your driveway.  Upgrade to Cutting Edge Firewood Metal Rack is available via phone.

     

  • Oak Firewood Box

    $59.00

    Oak is a timeless classic, and a popular hardwood firewood from one of America’s most iconic trees. Oak has a more subtle aroma than hickory or cherry. It burns hotter and longer than cherry, but cooler and not as long as hickory. For many of our customers, oak is their first experience with our kiln dried firewood.

    This box of oak firewood includes everything you need for 2-4 amazing fireside experiences, including fire starters, kindling, matches, and firewood. See full details below.

  • Oak Firewood Rack

    $255.00

    Oak is a timeless classic, and a popular hardwood firewood from one of America’s most iconic trees. Oak has a more subtle aroma than hickory or cherry. It burns hotter and longer than cherry, but cooler and not as long as hickory. For many of our customers, oak is their first experience with our kiln dried firewood.

    Our patent metal rack of oak is 2′ wide and 4′ tall with enough quality firewood for 15-25 amazing fireside experiences. It is filled with our 16″ standard cut firewood.

    Firewood Rack Service

    Cutting Edge Firewood proudly offers firewood rack services nationwide. 

    • If you live within our “local delivery network” (Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Greenville and greater metro areas) you will receive a metal rack personally delivered by our Artisans.
    • If you live outside of our “local delivery network” across the United States, our rack products will be shipped via a freight company in a wooden rack to the end of your driveway.  Upgrade to Cutting Edge Firewood Metal Rack is available via phone.
  • Pecan Cooking Wood Box

    $69.00

    Pecan is the most legendary cooking wood in the South, and Cutting Edge Firewood offers the best Pecan available. Maybe that’s why our Pecan Cooking wood was featured in Garden and Gun magazine.

    These 16″ split pecan logs provide the perfect flavor for any smoking and barbecue enthusiasts. Pecan burns hotter and longer, and it ignites quickly and easily. Because of our rigorous drying process, you know that all of our pecan wood will arrive dry and free from bugs, mold, or fungus. That means your food gets nothing but the best.

    Give your team the competitive edge it needs by selecting Pecan cooking wood from Cutting Edge Firewood.

    Boxes of Pecan ship nationwide and usually include complimentary shipping!

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