Consumer Reports: ‘Smokeless’ fire pits aren’t exactly smokeless, but some are better than others

Popular backyard fire pits -- often called smokeless fire pits -- like the Solo Stove conjure up images of a roaring outdoor fire sans smoke. Consumer Reports just tested seven of them. Here’s a quick takeaway.

“It’s a misnomer to call them smokeless. They are less smoky, but they’re not smokeless. You will always have some smoke,” said Consumer Reports’ Bernie Deitrick.

That’s the nature of burning wood but the way these fire pits are designed, there’s less smoke once the fire really gets going, especially when compared with a traditional campfire.

In its tests, Consumer Reports started a lot of fires, noting how fast each fire pit lit and how effectively it burned.

“The ones that did well in our ratings, you can have a small fire in them or a large fire in them, they start quickly, so that they are out of the smoky phase sooner and they burn the wood completely so that there’s not a lot of clean up afterwards,” Deitrick said.

Consumer Reports found the Solo Stove left behind lots of wood and cleaning it up wasn’t as easy as with some of the other fire pits.

The top performer was the Cuisinart Cleanburn Fire Pit, which starts around $249. Yes, the kitchen appliance brand, Cuisinart! It’s fast to light and it burns wood more thoroughly than any other model tested, so there’s less waste and less mess.

If you want to skip chopping and lugging around firewood, the Inno Stage Smokeless Fire Pit for $79 burns wood pellets instead.

And while it’s not as easy to clean as the other two fire pits, the Blue Sky Outdoor Living Peak Smokeless Fire Pit PFP2416 for about $215 can burn pellets or logs.

And remember, no matter what type of fire you’re enjoying, keep it safe. Place your pit on an uncovered, hard flat surface at least 20 feet away from anything flammable.

Also, avoid placing any fire pit on your deck. Consumer Reports says the heat could cause wood to catch fire or melt composite decking materials.