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What Do You Burn In A Fire Pit?

people roasting marshmallows over a fire pit vs chiminea

Lighting a large fire pit for you and your friends to sit around is a dream come true. Everyone can enjoy plenty of laughter, chatter, food and fun for long summer nights. However, you should be careful when gathering everyone around a fire pit. What you burn in your fire pit can affect the fumes it releases into the air, affecting you and your friends, your fire pit and the environment. So, what do you burn in a fire pit? And what should you completely avoid? Well, let’s find out!

What Do You Burn In A Fire Pit?

Fortunately, there are plenty of materials and fuels that you can safely burn in a fire pit. But, of course, you should only burn these materials to keep yourself and your fire pit safe. So what do you burn in a fire pit? Here are five materials to use without worry:


Charcoal is a classic fuel for fire pits. Slow and steady burning, charcoal provides plenty of heat to warm your friends and family or cook on top of without worry. Although charcoal will smoke at first as it warms up and begins to burn, once it has warmed through substantially, you should see a reduction in smoke. Then, it will be safe to sit around or cook on.


High-quality seasoned hardwood is another classic material to burn in a fire pit as it burns steadily and well. Additionally, like charcoal, it produces a lot of heat without releasing poisonous toxins. And high-quality hardwoods will result in a cleaner burn, meaning even less smoke. However, you should avoid burning softwood, as this can release a lot of smoke and may release toxic fumes when burnt. You can read more with our guide on the best types of wood for fire pits.


Some fire pits use gas as their only fuel source; you must be aware of this if your fire pit does so. For example, your fire pit could run off propane or natural gas, the only thing you should burn in a fire pit designed for gas.


Like gas, several fire pits are built to be fuelled by bioethanol. Bioethanol fuel is a renewable energy source created from fermented sugar and starch elements of plant by-products. Bioethanol fire pits produce significantly fewer amounts of smoke than other fire pits, but you should only use bioethanol fuel with this type of fire pit.

Fruit Woods

Fruit woods are another fuel option for fire pits, albeit a little-known one. Woods such as apple and cherry release moderate heat and reward you with pleasant, fruity smells. However, certain fruit woods, including cherry, can spark, so ensure that you monitor your fire pit at all times if you are burning fruitwood.

Shop our range of fire pit fuel

What Don’t You Burn In A Fire Pit?

                                So, now we’ve answered, ‘what do you burn in a fire pit?’, you must be aware of the opposite. You should never burn certain fuels and materials in a fire pit. Here are five things you shouldn’t burn in a fire pit:

Pressure-Treated Wood

There’s a reason burning pressure-treated wood is illegal in the United States, and that’s because it’s toxic. Burning pressure-treated wood can release toxic chemicals into the air, and pressure-treated wood that has been preserved can be even worse. So no matter the pressure-treated wood you are thinking of burning, don’t!


Like pressure-treated wood, burning plastic can release dangerous chemical fumes, including styrene gas and dioxins. These are both bad for you and the environment. In fact, burning plastic and other household waste items are illegal in the UK[i]. Nevertheless, you must stick to the fire pit rules and regulations, so avoid burning plastic!


Although paper is safe to burn itself, printed paper is a big no-no. Magazines and newspapers use ink; when burned, the ink used on them can release dangerous toxins into the air. Also, glossy magazines are usually glossed with plastic-based materials, causing even more toxins to be released.

Cardboard Boxes

Another potential surprise is cardboard and cardboard boxes: both are things you should never burn on a fire pit. Again, the ink used on cardboard boxes will release dangerous toxins when burning. However, cardboard may also cause a surge in your fire as it burns so quickly. This can be dangerous, especially if plenty of people gather around the fire.


Unfortunately, burning weeds in your fire pit is not an ideal solution. Some weeds, like ivy or sumac, contain certain oils that release fumes into the air when burnt. These fumes can irritate the lungs and cause severe allergic reactions in those with respiratory issues. So, it is safer to avoid burning weeds in your fire pit altogether.

Choosing What To Burn In A Fire Pit

Fire pit safety, including choosing the right fuels to burn in a fire pit, is essential to the well-being of you, your loved ones, your fire pit and the environment. So, make sure you make the right choice! Our ‘what do you burn in a fire pit’ article should have given you all the advice and tips you need for a fun, safe gathering around your fire pit however often you would like.

What do you burn in a fire pit? Leave your suggestions below.



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