Whenever I go camping, one of the first things I do is to dig a Dakota Fire Hole.

It’s nothing fancy. Just side-by-side holes connected by a tunnel. It’s a system originally employed by Native Americans to create super hot fires that smoke less and which will continue to burn on windy or rainy days.

Want to build a stealth fire that can’t been seen for miles away? Get down on your hands and knees, son, and dig yourself a Dakota Hole.

A fairly recent innovation based on this concept has resulted in a line of “smokeless” fire pits to cut down on the amount of smoke released by a backyard fire.

It works like this, according to TheFamilyHandyman.com, which recently rated the top smokeless fire pits on the market.

“Two-walled construction draws air in the bottom of the outer wall, then vents the now-heated air into the top of the fire. This natural bellows effect creates an oxygen-rich environment, producing secondary combustion that burns the smoke particles to nothing before they can escape the fire pit.”


That’s basic thermodynamics, we suppose, but we don’t see a lot of smokeless fire pits out there. Why is that?

For one, the idea may offend backyard fire purists. And the prices for the pits are all over the place. For a small “rocket stove” style model, you might get one for under $100. A full-size model will set you back somewhere in the area of $500 and you could be looking at a thousand bucks if you’re going all fancy and whatnot.

Of course, like everything else, there’s always the option of building your own smokeless fire pit. The suckers are fairly cheap to construct, although time intensive. For one such model, the process basically involves drilling a bunch of holes around the upper edge of a fire ring and then surrounding the ring with pavers.

The smokeless pits don’t eliminate ALL smoke, by any means, but they’re usually enough to keep your guests from choking around the fire all night, and your neighbors will be less likely to make that call to the fire department.

Or you could just suck it up and get yourself a gas-burning fire pit, which will burn cleaner and eliminate smoke right out of the box.

It’s kind of a cheat, and your wood-burning friends will make fun of you, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

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