Smoky Fire

What is Smoky Fire and What Causes a Smoky Fire? (All You Need To Know)

One of the reasons people love outdoor life is the freedom the outdoor space gives them to express themselves and be in tune with nature. That is why it is common to seek rustic ways of doing things like cooking with woods.

Food cooked with woods has a unique smoky flavour, and this is because the smoke is like an ingredient that adds a layer of flavor to the food. 

However, the smoke from woods can get into your eyes, nose, mouth and even leave its odor on your skin and things around you.

Smoky fires produce more smoke than usual, and they are mostly caused by burning softwoods or woods that are not properly.

The goodness is that you can take care of that smoky nuisance by doing very simple things. Come along with us, and we will show you how.

What Is Smoky Fire

Smoky fire is any fire from burning wood or other combustible materials that produce smoke above normal. 

It is almost impossible to burn materials without producing smoke; this is because smoke is a sign of incomplete combustion of material due to low levels of oxygen, heat or the presence of other materials that are not readily flammable.

What Causes a Smoky Fire?

There are a few reasons why your smoke will smoke, and some of them are:

1. Burning Wet Wood

Woods that are not dry will cause a lot of smoke, and this is because as you heat the wet wood, the moisture in the wood tries to escape in the form of steam. This steam which is like smoke, mixes with the smoke of the wood and makes the smoker heavier.

2. Mold and Fungus Infested Wood

When some wood has been outside for a while, they grow molds and fungi, and these fungi cause the wood to smoke heavily when burnt. They give off a kind of odor and effluents that are nasty.

3. Burning Softwoods

Softwoods might be great for lots of things, but they are certainly not good as firewood because they produce heavy smoke. 

This is because they have a high content of the organic material known as resins. People usually use softwoods like pines as kindling because they burn fast, but just for starting the fire because of the smoke, they give off, which has a nice aroma but can be too heavy.

4.  Adding Some Waste to Your Fire

It is never recommended that you burn some of the garbage around you because of the fire hazard you expose yourself to and because they produce a lot of bad smoke for you and the environment. 

So, when you burn your wood and add little food wrap, waste bag and what have you, then be ready to be bathed in smoke.

5. Lack of Adequate Oxygen

If you are using seasoned hardwoods and your fire is still smoking, the wood is not getting enough oxygen to produce fire, producing a lot of smoke. 

When your woods are stuffed up tightly, there is no room for oxygen to get in, which will cause your fire to smoke heavily. 

Related Article: Mesquite vs Hickory Smoke – Which is Better for Your Food?

How Do I Stop Smoky Fire?

To stop your fire from smoking heavily, you can do just simple things to take care of this problem because let’s face the truth, there is not so much with using your fire pit or cooking with wood if the wood smothers you. The following will help you enjoy cooking with your beloved wood:

1. Use hardwoods

You should choose the best kind of wood for your fire. First, they must be hardwoods that produce lignin instead of resin that causes woods to smoke a lot. 

Hardwoods like hickory and oak are denser and contain more wood fiber than your typical softwoods, and that is why they burn well with little smoke. 

2. Always Ensure that the Hardwood You Use is Well Seasoned

Seasoned woods have been felled, spilt, then stacked properly and then allowed to air-dry outdoors for not less than six months. 

Well-seasoned wood has a low moisture content, sometimes as low as 20%. 

This same result can be gotten by using a kiln which in simple terms is a giant oven that removes the moisture in woods. 

When these woods are dried, they have very little moisture content that will cause the wood to smoke lightly.

3. Build the Structure of Your Wood Properly

Placing your wood properly before lighting them is very important because if they are not properly placed, it will not allow adequate oxygen to get into the pile and oxygen is needed for fire to burn. 

Your best bet is to stack your wood so that they are close enough to share heat yet not too close to stop air from getting into the pile.

4. Clean Up Your Burning Unit

If you are burning your firewood in a fire pit or on the ground, ensure that you keep the place clean. Remove all the Ashes and wood chunks left in the unit before you start a new fire. 

These ashes will not burn, and the chunks of wood that are there might still be wet from the water used to quench the fire.

5. Don’t Use Softwood

Softwoods like redwood, spruce and pine are good for kindling fire, but they are not to be used for a long time because they produce a lot of smoke. If you must use them, then mix them up with hardwood-like hickory to minimise the smoke.

Read Also: Is Kiln Dried Wood Safe to Burn?

Should A Fire Pit Be Smoky?

Smoke in a fire pit is inevitable because smoke comes out as a by-product when you burn flammable materials; this is made worse if you use a wood-burning fire pit and use wet or fatwood (this is a name some people call woods that come from softwoods).

If you do not want a smoky fire pit, you will have to get propane or natural gas fire pits. However, if you want a wood-burning fire pit, you must ensure that you get hardwoods that are seasoned and free of fungus or mold.

Is Breathing Fire Smoke Bad for You

Breathing smoke is not good for you because when the fire burns, they produce smoke that has carbon monoxide, which is poisonous if inhaled for a long time in an enclosed space. That is why you should never burn anything bigger than a candle in an enclosed space.

Of you have noticed, when you are in a smoky place, you cough, and your breathing is irregular, and this is because you are breathing the fire fumes.

This is perfectly normal; if after 30 minutes you are still feeling this symptom, you might have breathing difficulty is common to cough for a few minutes after breathing in smoke or fumes from a fire. Your breathing should return to normal within a short period, about 30 minutes. 

Suppose your breathing does not return to normal or is getting worse instead of improving. In that case, it is important to think about whether you are having breathing difficulties because of smoke inhalation.

Is It Bad to Be Outside When It Is Smoky?

It is bad to be outside when it is smoky; the degree of effect it will have on you will depend on the smoke intensity, how much ventilation you have in the place, and any underlying respiratory problems like asthma.

If the smoke is intense and there is a low movement of air around your space, your best option is to leave the smoky place before you start experiencing the symptoms of smoke inhalation. 

Does Fire Smoke Make You Sleepy?

Increases in air pollution have also been shown to increase feelings of depression and anxiety, which are common reasons people lose sleep. 

For communities in the West, the stress of fires blazing in their backyards will likely have just as much of a mental toll as a physical one.

When fires burn, they release gases that pollute the atmosphere, and studies have shown that the presence of these pollutants increases anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are the main causes of sleeplessness.

So, smoke from wildfires can happen for days, and the trauma that comes with it can cause insomnia. However, you can also feel restless and lethargic that can cause sleepiness if you are exposed to smoke for a while, as you will have in a bonfire or your fire.

So, smoke for a short period can cause sleepiness, a fire outbreak, and all its attendant consequences and trauma will cause anxiety and stress that causes lack of sleep.

Can Fire Smoke Cause You to Sneeze?

Smoke cause sneezing because, like all other symptoms of respiratory infections, they always manifest like cold symptoms, which is because smoke affects the lungs and its associated organs.

In simple terms, when smoke gets onto your lungs, your body sneezes in trying to get the smoke particles out of your lungs and respiratory system in general. So sneezing and noisy breathing are associated with smoke.

What Are Symptoms of Smoke Inhalation

The symptoms of smoke inhalation and those of cold are similar, and they include:

  • Scratchy throat: This happens because the smoke particles are irritating your throat. 
  • Coughing, wheezing and sneezing: this results from your system trying to get rid of the smoke particles.
  • Dark mucus coming out of the mouth and nose: these are the smoke particles that you have inhaled. 
  • Trouble breathing is because smoke particles are interfering with the much-needed oxygen you need for life.
  • Restlessness, agitation, confusion, and lethargy: the low level of oxygen available and the smoke particles all add together to cause these symptoms.


A smoky fire that produces more smoke than usual can be caused by using wet wood, softwood, and other things, and it is easy to take care of this problem by sticking to simple solutions that work. 

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We trust this article helped you know what Causes a Smoky Fire. You may also want to check out How To Make a Propane Fire Pit Smell Better.

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