All burning will release some gases but for the best smokeless fuel for a chiminea, burn wood with 10-20% low moisture value. Steel or cast iron chimineas can also burn charcoal which emits little smoke.
Clay Chimineas Best Smokeless Fuel
Look for a low moisture wood that’s been kiln dried or similar. This low level of moisture will ensure a nice clean burn with little smoke.
Our favourite low moisture wood is:
- Birch (easy to buy in the UK)
- Pinion (easily obtainable in US)
However, any hardwood that has been seasoned should burn well in your chiminea.
Steel and Cast Iron Chimineas Smokeless Fuel
The benefits of charcoal are:
- It produces little smoke
- It’s inexpensive
- It’s available everywhere – supermarkets, gas stations etc
- It burns hotter and will therefore radiate more heat
- It’s better for cooking with
For more information on chiminea cooking check out my guide and recipes specifically for chimineas.
Other Smokeless Fuel Options
For lots more information on reducing smoke from your chiminea check our guide.
The main culprit for fuel smoking is wood that has too much moisture but also consider the following:
- Is my chiminea dirty?
- Is it windy?
- Am I burning other garden debris?
There are also various compressed logs that claim to be ‘smoke-free’, but I have never used these myself but here are some examples if you are interested in exploring this option:
Anthracite (not in clay chimineas)
How do you make a chiminea less smoky?
If you’ve read about the precautions to take to avoid smoke, yet here you are with a smoky chiminea bellowing out stacks of smoke and you’d like to stop it immediately there’s a few things you can do.
If your chiminea is lined with sand in the bottom of the firebowl, use it to smother the fire. This does unfortunately kill the fire, but you are better to stop the fire and start again. That’s because it’s more than likely that the log you are burning has too much moisture.
If you’re not using a clay chiminea with sand you should have some sand in a bucket in case of emergencies or needing to put the fire out. If you don’t have sand, you can use soil though it will be more of a clean up and is generally messier as will produce more smoke when smothering fire due to the moisture content. However, having moisture content temporarily in a metal chiminea is far less of an ordeal than it can be in a porous clay chiminea.
Checklist for making a chiminea less smoky:
- Use kiln dried or seasoned hardwood
- Don’t use too much kindling
- Don’t light your chiminea when it’s windy
- Clean out your chiminea before using
- In a metal chiminea, use charcoal
- Burn one log at a time until you are sure the wood is dry
How do you light a chiminea without smoking?
Use as little kindling as possible to get the fire going. Kindling is usually made from softer wood that will have a higher moisture content. If your chiminea has any adjustable vents, make sure they are wide open and also ensure to remove the chiminea lid. Doing this ensures a healthy airflow through your chiminea and will make lighting the fire easier and with less smoke.
What is the best thing to burn in a chiminea?
The best thing to burn in a chiminea is seasoned or kild dried hardwood wood. You can read more about your fuel burning options in my full article: What To Burn In A Chiminea?
What is the Best Smokeless Fuel For Cooking in a Chiminea?
The best smokeless fuel for cooking in a chiminea is charcoal brickets. These are versatile and available everywhere. You will have to have a metal chiminea to use them. If you’re planning to do a lot of cooking using a chiminea I recommend using a metal chiminea. Cooking on charcoal is WAY easier!
Can you use smokeless coal in a clay chiminea?
No. Do not attempt to use coal or charcoal in a chiminea. The only exception to this rule is if you have a chiminea that is made with a special type of reinforced clay. One example of this is the chimalin AFC from Gardeco.
Can you use a chiminea in a smokeless zone?
Chimineas are exempt from fuel restrictions even in smoke control areas. For bonfires, BBQs and chimineas you can burn any fuel. However, you have to be aware of nuisance laws and if you regularly burn a smoky fire, get ready for the wrath of your neighbours who are protected by the nuisance laws.
The reason for this is because the chimney of a chiminea is not part of a house or other structure. You can read the full law about smoke and chimineas.
Here is a list of exempt appliances for your region – it’s different for the different parts of the UK. Of course, it is! You can read more about the chiminea laws in the article: Are Chimineas Legal in the UK?
For best burning characteristics, use hardwoods (oak, hickory, birch, mesquite and fruit woods) that have been seasoned for at least a year or kiln-dried wood. Dry wood produces very little smoke. Green or fresh-cut wood is far more likely to produce smoke.
Most chimineas are designed to burn small wood logs. Keep in mind the diameter of your chiminea and the internal size of your fire bowl when purchasing any fuel for your chiminea to ensure it fits. Small chimineas may only be 30 cm total diameter at the widest point and will definitely need small logs!