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

Even though around 59% of the American homeowners want a fire pit in their existing outdoor living space, according to a 2021 Fixr.com report, many might not know what burns well in a fire pit for a safe and comforting fire. As a glowing, crackling fire on your yard sets for just the right environment for a chatty gathering or relaxed evenings, it’s important that you keep the fire as safe as it can get. And that’s why you must know what you can burn and what you cannot burn in a fire pit to keep the surroundings safe yet cozy and welcoming.

So, What to burn in a fire pit?

10 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 should burn anything and everything that comes in your way. Wood is the best material to burn in your fire pit on any given day. The warmth and flame it produces is quite unmatchable. However, there are a few other materials like wood brick, charcoal, recycled coffee grounds that burn safely in your outdoor fire pit as well.

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, because of their low-density properties, softwoods burn more rapidly with a high, hot flame.

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

  • Pine
  • Tamarack
  • Spruce
  • Cedar
  • Yew

Wood Bricks

If you don’t want or don’t have woods 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 therefore, 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 not only is lightweight and burns longer than anticipated but it is also super safe. It produces extremely fewer sparks and less smoke and hence, 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 ground in your fire pit for an aromatic fire. This material burns clean, steady and therefore, isn’t a bad choice to burn in your patio fire pit. 

What Should You Not Burn In A Fire Pit?

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

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

Any Type of Plastic

Although plastic is the most common material that we often want to throw in an open fire, it’s best that you keep yourself from throwing any type of plastics in a fire pit. Plastic not only burns badly but also releases toxic chemicals fumes into the air to make the surrounding polluted. Burned plastic will make it hard for you to breathe fresh air when you are ought to enjoy some outdoor time.


Never, ever burn trash in your patio fire pit. Burning trash not only releases toxins in the environment but also 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 woods in it 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 in the surroundings making them unhealthy for you.


Although accelerants can start a fire in no time, it’s too risky to use them in a fire pit, 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 can hope that you would 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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