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Fuel and Wood for Fire Pits | Comprehensive Guide

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Selecting the right fuel for your fire pit is crucial to ensure its proper functioning, longevity, and safety. Using the wrong fuel can lead to issues such as insufficient heat, excessive smoke, and even damage to your fire pit. In this post, we'll discuss the best types of fuel for various fire pit styles and outline the potential issues that can arise from using incorrect fuel.

Wood for fire wood burning inside a fire pit

Wood-Burning Fire Pits

Hardwoods like oak, hickory, and maple are ideal for wood-burning fire pits. They burn hotter, produce less smoke, and last longer than softwoods like pine and spruce. Avoid using treated or painted wood, as they release toxic fumes when burned. Using green or wet wood can also cause excessive smoke and creosote build-up, which may lead to fire hazards.

Propane and Natural Gas Fire Pits

Propane and natural gas fire pits require specific types of fuel. Propane fire pits use liquid propane (LP), which comes in portable tanks, while natural gas fire pits use a direct gas line connected to your home's natural gas supply. Using the wrong type of gas can result in poor performance, damage to the fire pit components, or even explosions.

Gel Fuel and Ethanol Fire Pits

Gel fuel and ethanol fire pits are clean-burning alternatives that produce minimal smoke and odors. They use alcohol-based fuels, typically available in cans or bottles. It's essential to use the specific fuel recommended by the fire pit manufacturer, as using the wrong fuel can lead to poor combustion, insufficient heat, and possible damage to the fire pit.

Charcoal Fire Pits

Charcoal fire pits use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal as fuel. Lump charcoal is preferred by some due to its more natural composition and ability to produce higher heat. However, briquettes provide a consistent burn and are often more affordable. Avoid using lighter fluid or other flammable liquids to ignite the charcoal, as they can cause dangerous flare-ups and leave an unpleasant taste on food cooked over the fire.


In conclusion, choosing the correct fuel for your fire pit is essential for its performance, safety, and longevity. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for fuel types and ensure you handle and store fuels safely to prevent accidents. Proper fuel selection will help you enjoy your fire pit to the fullest while keeping your outdoor space safe and comfortable.

For everything else fire pit related, we recommend continuing with our Ultimate Fire Pit Guide, where we cover every topic related to fire pits.

Author Bio Image

Ryan Wright

Ryan Wright is a chemical engineer and metallurgist with a passion for outdoor living. He has an ongoing love for research and is well experienced in whole animal spits, fire pits, and parrilla grilling.

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