Maybe you’ve seen them on social media or in neighborhood backyards. Smokeless fire pits like the Solo Stove are hot, so to speak. But how smokeless are they, really? Consumer Reports put some of the best sellers to the test to find out which ones make building, tending to, and cleaning up a backyard fire easier and safer.
Popular backyard fire pits—often called smokeless fire pits—like the Solo Stove conjure up images of a roaring outdoor fire sans smoke. Consumer Reports just tested seven of them. Here’s a quick takeaway.
It’s a misnomer to call them smokeless; they’re less smoky. You will always have some smoke; that’s the nature of burning wood. But the way these fire pits are designed, there’s less smoke once the fire really gets going, especially when compared with a traditional campfire.
In its tests, CR started lots of fires, noting how fast each fire pit lit and how effectively it burned. For the ones that did well in the ratings, you can have a small fire or a large one, they start quickly so that they’re out of the smoky phase sooner, and they burn wood completely so that there’s not a lot of clean up afterward.
Consumer Reports found the Solo Stove left behind lots of wood, and cleaning it up wasn’t as easy as with some of the other fire pits.
The top performer was the Cuisinart Cleanburn Fire Pit, which starts around $249. Yes, the kitchen appliance brand, Cuisinart! It’s fast to light and it burns wood more thoroughly than any other model tested, so there’s less waste and less mess.
If you want to skip chopping and lugging around firewood, the Inno Stage Smokeless Fire Pit for $79 burns wood pellets instead.
And while it’s not as easy to clean as the other two fire pits, the Blue Sky Outdoor Living Peak Smokeless Fire Pit PFP2416 for about $215 can burn pellets or logs.
And remember, no matter what type of fire you’re enjoying, keep it safe. Place your pit on an uncovered, hard flat surface at least 20 feet away from anything flammable.
CR says avoid placing any fire pit on your deck. The heat could cause wood to catch fire or melt composite decking materials.