How To Build A DIY Smokeless Fire Pit w/ 3 Items

smokeless fire pit on a backyard patio with two Adirondack chairs

Smokeless fire pits are an incredible invention. Unless you like the nostalgia behind a smoky fire pit or want your clothes to hold that smell, smokeless fire pits are flat out better than regular ones. However, smokeless fire pits aren’t inexpensive. You can’t buy a smokeless fire pit for under $50 the way you can with normal fire pits. What if you want one but can’t bring yourself to fork up the money? Try building a DIY smokeless fire pit. Using the step-by-step guide we’ve built you, constructing a DIY smokeless fire pit can be a breeze.

What Is A Smokeless Fire Pit?

A smokeless fire pit is an outdoor fire pit made to prevent smoke from being produced while burning fuel. These fire pits rely on a combustion system that moves air around the fire. This circulation helps burn the fuel more efficiently, which results in less smoke. Some smokeless fire pits also have eco-friendly technology built in. This special feature can reduce the amount of smoke that escapes into the air.

Are DIY Smokeless Fire Pits Cheaper Than Buying One?

DIY smokeless fire pits can be much cheaper than buying even an inexpensive one from Amazon. To get the best savings, use the materials we suggest in this guide. A DIY smokeless fire pit using cinder blocks and metal can cost under $100. Whereas even an inexpensive pre-made smokeless fire pit $200 – $300. Therefore, it’s absolutely worthwhile to make your own DIY smokeless fire pit.

What You’ll Need To Make A DIY Smokeless Fire Pit

The reason a these fire pits are much less expensive is because of the materials you’ll use. To construct a DIY smokeless fire pit, you really only need three materials and one tool. You can elect to make your fire pit fancier, but this short list is all you truly need.

  • Gravel stone
  • Retaining wall blocks
  • Fire pit ring
  • Cordless drill
  • Retaining wall caps (optional)
  • Grate (optional)
DIY smokeless fire pit in modest backyard with four metal chairs and a retaining wall in the background

How To Build A DIY Smokeless Fire Pit

Building a smokeless fire pit from scratch requires some skill and preparation. However none of the steps we’ll explain are particularly difficult. If you’ve completed other DIY projects in the past you will probably be fine. Here are the steps to build a DIY smokeless fire pit quickly and easily.

Fire Pit Location

The first step in building a DIY smokeless fire pit is to figure out where you want it located. This may sound obvious, but making sure that you stay away from things like your home, patio and anything other structure that you have in your backyard is important. As a general rule, stay at least 10 feet away. Also choose a spot in your backyard this is flat. Deciding on this location also includes considering the size of the fire pit you’ll build. Unlike other DIY fire pits, size matters. Smokeless fire pits work best when they’re slim and tall.

Once you’ve chosen your location, lay down the gravel stone to be level and wider than the actual size of your fire pit. You can remove or rearrange the overflow gravel once you’re done.

Choose Your Bowl/Ring

Choose the type of circular ring you’d like for the inside perimeter. Fire pit rings come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are an oval shape and others are a perfect circle. This is going to be the most expensive part of your project, so choose wisely. Make sure that your ring reflects the size of the DIY smokeless fire pit you’re trying to build. Once you have your ring, drill small holes around the top for ventilation.

Build Your Structure

Before you can put the fire pit ring into place, you must build the stone structure around it. We recommend using retaining wall blocks because they are inexpensive ($2 – $4) and can withstand hot temperatures. Alternatively, you could use bricks but we think this is a worse aesthetic.

Be sure to leave one of the bottom-most blocks missing for every 3-4 you install. Make sure the retaining wall blocks are tight together, otherwise the smokeless effect won’t happen. If the shape of your blocks doesn’t allow for them to be tightly pressed against each other, you may need to add retaining wall caps, too.

You should account for a quarter to half of an inch of space in between where your ring will rest and where the inside of the retaining blocks will end. This is space and the missing blocks on the bottom are the most important parts of making this DIY fire pit actually be smokeless. You introduce a small amount of cool air and it creates the popular effect.

Light Your Fire And Test

After you’ve completed your DIY smokeless fire pit, you’re ready to test it out. Gather some fire wood, small sticks and a good fire starter. We like actual fire starter material, dryer lint or crumbled up newspaper. Make sure you build up the fire wood height above the ring you added. You might see small traces of smoke swirl around your fire, but nothing like regular fire pits. Traditional fire pits have a lot of smoke involved simply because they don’t have good ventilation at the bottom.

Lastly, if you want to cook food over your fire pit frequently, consider a grate. Therefore, you can rest food on the grate and allow it to cook while you wait with minimal effort. Of course, you can also add on things like fire pokers and other fire pit accessories. Now congratulate yourself, you’ve successfully built a DIY smokeless fire pit.

DIY smokeless fire pit in a grassy backyard with trees and two metal chairs behind it

Smokeless Fire Pit Benefits

Smokeless fire pits have many benefits whether you build your own or buy one already made. If you make a DIY smokeless fire pit, you’ll certainly save money. Another benefit is that you can control the appearance of the fire pit more. However, there are some unmistakable benefits of a smokeless fire pit either way.

  • Cleaner air (better host/guest experience)
  • Safer (less burns/accidents)
  • Less maintenance (no soot or ashes)

DIY Smokeless Fire Pit Disadvantages

Creating a DIY smokeless fire pit does have some cons. First, you’ll probably spend more on a DIY smokeless fire pit than you would on a decent regular fire pit. There’s just simply less material required, but if you really the smokeless option, DIY is the way to go.

Next, building a DIY smokeless fire pit means you’ll probably use wood as your fuel. This varies from most smokeless fire pit models that are powered by natural gas or propane. These fuel sources are actually better than wood for the environment.

Lastly, the portability of a DIY smokeless fire pit will be inferior to that of a manufactured one. Most of the ones you find on Amazon or elsewhere online are easy to turn off and move around your backyard. However, if you build a smokeless fire pit out of heavy retaining wall blocks and gravel stone, you’re probably not going to be able to move it any time soon.

3 Helpful DIY Smokeless Fire Pit Videos

We enjoy figuring out DIY projects here at Backyard Assist, but we do get tips and tricks from other professionals. We found these three “how to” videos particularly helpful in our assembly of a DIY smokeless fire pit.


Now you know that building a DIY smokeless fire pit is a good idea and a fun project. The simplicity of this project makes it very compelling. By building your own, you will save between $100 – 200. A DIY smokeless fire pit only requires a few materials and an afternoon of your time.