Why Does Your Campfire Smoke -WHAT I DID TO STOP IT COMPLETLY

You know sometimes some amazing things can be ruined by small things in this case the beautiful view and the fun of sitting beside your campfire while camping can be ruined by something small that is done wrong.

Why Does Your Campfire Smoke? to make it short you campfire smokes due to; using improper materials, using the materials improperly or doing some small thing wrong can make your campfire smoke, like one of the most common things that result in smoke is lack of ventilation!

Smoke is created when there is incomplete combustion; which means when you are burning wood and there is no enough oxygen that is when smoke occurs.

The thing is one thing like if the wood you use is wet or using the wrong type of wood can make a whole bunch of smoke. Like if you have ever used charcoal for barbeque or cooking before, you know one tiny stick inside it can make the whole thing smoke very much.

Like you see in this picture before and after I removed the stick you can see the difference in the second picture, you don’t see no smoke coming out from it and it is because of this one small stick is thrown away. So this might also be your problem so just stick with me.

This is actually going to be a long post so if you want to jump to one section you can use the table of contents to jump to the section you want but it took me hours to write the post I hope you find something helpful from it.

Table of contents

what makes your campfire smoke

smoke with a black background

This question doesn’t have one answer campfire can smoke due to many reasons the common problems are using improper wood and you might be using the right wood but if it hasn’t dried well that is also a problem, the third and a very common problem that beginner campers tend to do is using leaves and debris which is wrong thing to do, the last which is probably the most common is lack of ventilation.

what would be the perfect combustion of wood contain? only water and carbon dioxide, but what extra things does smoke contain? carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide and many more and as I have said above these are caused by many things lets get to them

These four are the most common things that make your campfire smoke like an old train that works with coal you have to identify which one is your problem and you can fix it for the next time.

Using improper wood

There are tens if not hundreds of types of woods you can use for your campfire, all of them have a good side and a bad one but as a general rule the denser the wood the better, why? the hotter and the faster the wood burns, the less smoke it produces.

But it is not only maple and oak as I have said there are many more; common woods used for campfires are maple, oak, elm, birch, and hickory we will focus on these five. The most common wood used for campfires is oak but my personal favorite is maple.

Maple is my favorite wood spices for campfires because of many things: one is it is super dense might be hard to split to half but its burns way longer than most species and also it less smokie, the thigh that might hold you back is it is bit too expensive than the other species which in my opinion worth spending a few dollars more and get the best campfire experience.

Moisture in the wood

You might have the best wood but if it has moisture in it, you would not like it. So as much as possible get dried wood and make sure you protect your wood after you buy it.

As I have said the hotter the wood burns the less fire it’s going to have and this also works if you are using wet wood so that means if you are using wet wood the water inside the wood will reduce the burning temperature which results in a high amount of smoke. So it is optimal if you use a dry wood

Stick to the browns, not the greens

This is the same as the above one; if you are using things like tree branches, leaves or debris it will almost be impossible to enjoy your campfire because it will be smoking a lot.

This is because of the water that is inside green things which makes them burn at a low temperature so never try to use leaves even the dried ones, not only that make sure there is no green thing in your campfire. Cause one tiny piece can be super smoky and irritating.


Don’t underestimate this one, ventilation is probably the most common problem that causes campfires to smoke. As I have said smoke is the result of incomplete combustion which means,s while the wood is burning there is not enough oxygen for it to react with it.

What is the harm of a smokey campfire

If your campfire is smoking you are causing harm to both the environment and yourself. Gases like carbon monoxide and other fatal gas are produced if your campfire is smokey so you have to watch out

  • CO emission: Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that doesn’t have a smell nor a taste and the problem is you can not stop this but you can decrease the effect on you and on the environment. The first thing you should not do is sit too close to the campfire to decrease the effect of the CO.
  • Affects your lungs: due to harmful substances in the smoke, inhaling it can have a major effect on your lungs and to your entire body.

How to avoid over smokey campfires build the perfect campfire

Let come to the point of this article and that is how to stop campfire from smoking! by this point, you should have identified the problem, I mean whether you are using the wrong species of wood or you are not allowing airflow there is a solution for all. And watch the video you can get some tips on how you can build a campfire

Airflow(especially smoke in your fire pit)

This is probably the mistake most beginner campers make when they build their campfire, it is actually a basic knowledge that when something burns it needs O2 but you know what your campfire smocks mainly due to lack of enough oxygen. Do you know how charcoal is made the absence of oxygen and if you have seen the process high amount of smoke comes out from it due to the absence of O2.

So when we come to the point of what makes this happen, I mean what is blocking the oxygen out of the campfire? nothing but over stacking the woods is what is stopping airflow and which in result causing a smokey campfire so never do that, you should use the right amount of wood. One bundle of wood would be enough for an average-sized campfire, one bundle of oak or maple will stay for 1 or 2hours.

The hotter it burns the less it smokes

It is 100% true that when wood burns at a higher temperature the less smoke it produces why is that it is because smoke is the collection of unburned particles but if the campfire is burning at a higher temperature these particles will burn out.

The denser the better

The denser your wood is the less it will smoke due to dense woods bure at a higher temperature and burns out slower. So high-density woods like maple or would be nice for both decreasing smokiness and to increase the time of stay.

Types of woods and which wood produces the least smoke

chopping wood with axe
smokiness density
maple low750 kg/m3
oak low700-800 kg/m3
elm medium820 kg/m3
birch medium670 kg/m3
hickory low650 – 930 kg/m3

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