What to Burn In a Fire Pit? (And What to Avoid)

Even though around 59% of American homeowners want a fire pit in their existing outdoor living space, according to a 2021 Fixr.com report, many might need to learn what burns well in a fire pit for a safe and comforting fire. 

As a glowing, crackling fire in your yard sets for just the right environment for a chatty gathering or relaxed evening, you must keep the fire as safe as possible. And that’s why you must know what you can and cannot burn in a fire pit to keep the surroundings safe yet cozy and welcoming.

So, What to burn in a fire pit?

fire pit burn

Best Materials to Burn In A Fire Pit

You can burn a lot of things in your patio fire pit. However, it doesn’t mean you should burn anything and everything that comes your way.

However, some other materials like wood brick, charcoal, and recycled coffee grounds also burn safely in your outdoor fire pit.

Let’s discuss them in detail for better understanding.


Hardwoods are an excellent fuel to burn in your outdoor fire pit. Because they are denser than other types of woods and dry more easily, these woods will create a steady, low-maintenance fire in your yard and keep the surroundings warm for hours to come. 

Hardwoods also tend to quitter, producing fewer sparks. 

Some of the most common hardwoods that you can burn in your yard fire pit are:

  • Hard Maple
  • Soft Maple
  • Oak
  • Beech
  • Ash
  • Birch
  • Mahogany
  • Merbau
  • Pecan
  • Elm
  • Dogwood
  • Hickory
  • Sycamore
  • Apple
  • Pinion wood


In addition to hardwoods, softwoods are also a great choice to burn in your fireplace. Because they are soft and not as dense as hardwoods, these woods catch fire easily and are super quick to ignite. Also, softwoods burn more rapidly with a high, hot flame because of their low-density properties.

Here’s a list of common softwoods you can burn in your patio fire pit.

  • Pine
  • Tamarack
  • Spruce
  • Cedar
  • Yew

Wood Bricks

If you don’t want or don’t have wood handy, you can always try wood bricks instead to burn in your fire pit. Wood bricks, also known as biomass bricks, are made from recycled sawdust and wood chips and burn equally as well. They burn clean and don’t produce sparks or smoke.

In some cases, these bricks produce more heat than traditional firewood and are an excellent pick for colder nights.


Charcoal is another good material that burns well in a fire pit. This amazing bi-product of burnt wood is lightweight, burns longer than anticipated, and is also super safe. It produces fewer sparks and less smoke, so there is no chance that it would suffocate you in any way while you try to enjoy your time.

Recycled Coffee Grounds

Even though it might seem a bit unusual, you can actually use recycled coffee grounds in your fire pit for an aromatic fire. This material burns clean and steady and, therefore, isn’t a bad choice to burn in your patio fire pit.


If you want a low-maintenance fire pit that is easy to use, a propane fire pit might be a good option. Propane burns clean and doesn’t produce any smoke or sparks.

Natural Gas

Similar to propane, a natural gas fire pit is a low-maintenance option that is easy to use. Natural gas is also clean burning and produces no smoke or sparks.

Duraflame Logs

Duraflame logs are a popular choice for those who want a convenient and easy-to-use option for their fire pit. These logs are made from sawdust and wax and burn cleanly and efficiently.


Wood pellets are another option for those who want an easy-to-use fuel for their fire pit. These pellets are made from compressed sawdust and are designed to burn hot and efficiently.


Ethanol burners are a clean-burning, eco-friendly option for those who want a fire pit without the hassle of wood or gas. These burners use bioethanol fuel and produce a warm, inviting flame.

What Should You Not Burn In A Fire Pit?

Even though you can burn a lot of things in a patio fire pit, you MUST NEVER burn the following to keep yourself and your guests safe from any accidents.

  • Plastic
  • Trash
  • Poison Ivy
  • Green Wood
  • Accelerants

Any Type of Plastic

Although plastic is the most common material we often want to throw in an open fire, it’s best to keep yourself from throwing any plastic in a fire pit. Plastic burns badly and releases toxic chemicals and fumes into the air, making the surrounding polluted. Burned plastic will make it hard for you to breathe fresh air when you ought to enjoy some outdoor time.


Never, ever burn trash in your patio fire pit. Burning trash releases toxins into the environment and produces a lot of smoke, making it extremely difficult to breathe. 

Related: 10 Best Fire Pit for Wood Deck

Poison Ivy

Burning the disposal of yard weeds in your patio fire pit and getting rid of them might seem a good idea in theory. However, in reality, these weeds release fumes and black smoke into the air, which might cause lung irritation and allergic respiratory problems in the near future.


Even though wood is an excellent material to burn in your fire pit, you shouldn’t burn green wood in any shape or form. This wood makes a lot of smoke and makes it quite difficult to sit in the surrounding area. 

Particleboard/ Plywood

Just like green wood, you must also not burn plywood or particleboard in your fire pit for safety reasons. When burnt, these wood alternatives emit toxic gasses into the surroundings, making them unhealthy.


Although accelerants can start a fire quickly, using them in a fire pit is too risky, especially when you have people around. This “fire starter” is too unpredictable and can cause explosions even before you can control it.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know the materials that burn well in a fire pit, we hope you will try to pick them up the next time you light a fire in your outdoor fire pit. But then again, even after having the best materials to burn, don’t forget to follow the safety regulations completely for an even safer patio environment.


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