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The clearest and cleanest guide to smokeless fuel

A smog takes over London. The Clean Air Act emerges. Smokeless fuel rises from the mist. Learn the story, discover the fuels and get up to speed. Lets go!

During the lockdown days, it appeared that Mother Earth had a chance to recharge her batteries a little. Many facets of travel, industry and production came to a holt – albeit for a brief time. Balance began to be restored between man and the planet. At Big K we are acutely aware of the challenges of our industry and our relationship with the environment. This mind set is reflection of the ever-growing eco consciousness within both the business and societal paradigm. Moving forward, smokeless fuel has a key role to play in the future. .

Today, our agenda involves opening your eyes and heat seeking faculties to the world of smokeless fuel. What is smokeless fuel exactly? Good question you inquisitive lot. Basically, smokeless fuel is a type of fuel that does not emit visible smoke, or minimal amounts of smoke below a certain measurable threshold. The smokeless fuel label is used to refer to solid fuels including coke, anthracite, and charcoal. Smokeless fuels have a lower carbon footprint, and are therefore kinder to the environment and the air around us. So let’s see how smokeless fuels, including smokeless logs and smokeless coal for fire pits, can help you enjoy the warmth of an open flame and do a little something to help out the earth.

 

To move forward we must first look back

Just before we delve in, a brief historical interlude. Friday the 5th December 1952 – the Great Fog of London suffocates London in its opaque embrace. The burning of ordinary bituminous coal and wood with high moisture content, freezing temperatures, and stagnant smoke pollution were the primary culprits behind the apocalyptic scenes.

This led to some drastic changes in the legislature, with the first smoke-controlled areas emerging in 1956. A smoke control area is a location where you cannot emit smoke from a chimney (attached to any structure or building) unless you are burning certain authorised fuels, including various smokeless fuels. As most barbecues are independent free standing structures, smoke control area restrictions do not apply. However if you have a wood or multi-fuel burning stove, as well as any indoor barbecue or pizza oven connected to any kind of ‘chimney’, then you can only burn authorised fuels If you are a still a little unsure, you can find out all the information on smoke control areas here.

A pile of smokeless fuel smoulders to perfection with an orange and yellow glow

 

The rise of fire pits 

Smokeless fuel and fire pits have seem to have found each other amongst the plethora of fuel choices and BBQ equipment out there. More on this later. But first let’s look at fire pits for a minute. In the context of the surging popularity of the backyard fire pit, it’s important to understand why homeowners are gravitating towards having one in their own yards.

Fire pits have been trending up for the last decade. And once the pandemic hit, the steady rise became a surge. Essentially people wanted to be outside breathing fresh air and having a good (and safe) time – rather than being stuck within the confines of four walls. The fire pit is also very versatile, doubling up as an outdoor BBQ for general cooking or perhaps a little toasted marshmallow action – all while enjoying the warmth and hypnotic glow of the flames. Picture summer nights or winter gatherings around a self-contained fire that offers heat and the feeling of timeless nostalgia – pretty special, right?

 

Smokeless fuel charcoal burns white hot with an orange glow

 

Where is smokeless fuel near me?

Forget moving from your comfy chair. Just go online and visit bigkproducts.co.uk for all the smokeless fuel you could dream of. Looking for smokeless fuel, smokeless logs or smokeless coal for your fire pit? Big K’s instant fire logscrackle logs and smokeless coal can swoop in for a smoke-free save to make sure your fire pit keeps burning all night.

 

The 4 types of fire pits 

Fire pits come in many shapes and do an excellent job of keeping you warm and snug when the weather gets frosty. Even though fire pits differ on the fuel they use, at the end of the day they all tickle our primal fancy of being in the presence of a burning open flame. Let’s take a look at the different types of fire pits that keep the cold weather doldrums at bay.

 

Wood burning fire pits 

The most traditional fire pit is also the most tried and tested one since the days of our bow and arrow-wielding ancestors. Wood-burning fire pits and the sound of crackling wood connect deeply with our primeval roots. Watching the flames dance to the tales being shared around a fire will always be poetically nostalgic. Some Wood fire pits also double down as a grill, letting you enjoy some grilled meats or veggies. DIY dazzler? You can make your own with minimal fuss with a bit of brick and stone. For all intents and purposes, this option will be the easiest on your wallet.

Always remember to be responsible with a wood-burning flame. Safety should always be paramount through the whole process of burning wood and disposed of without causing a fire hazard. Especially on a windy day.

 

Gel fuel fire pits 

Gel fuel fire pits add a warm ambience to your outdoor setting. Portability, ease of use, and the ability to use indoors make it a versatile option. These fire pits are odourless, smokeless, and do not release any toxic fumes. This is a great option to add some life (and fire) to any outdoor space. One of the downsides is that the fuel doesn’t burn too hot and is harder to source.

 

Natural gas fire pits 

These fire pits depend on if you have a natural gas line running through your backyard. If so, you might want to consider a natural gas fire pit. They are similar to propane fire pits but are considered an improvement of the propane fire pit design. The biggest advantages of having a natural gas fire pit are that you won’t run out of fuel, won’t have to worry about chopping wood, changing propane tanks, or Goggling where to find gel fuel – among other things.

Natural gas fire pits may ring up a steep installation cost since you will need professional help to get the apparatus functioning seamlessly. Once installed it will be a permanent fixture in your outdoor area so you better choose your spot wisely.

 

Alternative smokeless fuels for fire pits 

 

Bio Ethanol (Bio Fuel)

A big thumbs up to this renewable form of smokeless fuel that is derived through fermenting from harvesting mass-produced crops like corn, rice, and sugarcane. With the depletion of natural resources, renewable fuel sources like biofuel will surely surge in popularity in the future. The drawbacks of bio ethanol are that it doesn’t give that fireplace experience we adore, plus it’s expensive.

 

Gel Fuel 

Gel fuel is made with isopropyl alcohol and usually comes in cans that burn up to 2 to 3 hours. Gel fuel is smokeless and lights up in seconds, making it easy for your gel fuel fire pit to start instantly. And when you are done you don’t have to worry about putting the flame out because it’s quite safe to leave it unattended.

 

Compressed logs and briquettes 

Compressed heat logs are made from compressed sawdust. Usually the saw dust is sourced from naturally felled timber or created from waste or recycled wood. Thanks to the compression process, the internal moisture content is very low – about 7% – 10%. This low moisture content makes the fuel pretty much smokeless as well. Our 100% natural Compressed Saw Dust Heat Logs have a super dry moisture level of 8% and consistent heat output too. They are the perfect partners for your pit.

 

Advantages of using smokeless fuel in your fire pit 

 

Smokeless coal is stacked on a pallet ready for sale as smokeless fuel

 

As previously stated, Smokeless fuels are a clean and easy way to reduce your carbon footprint without having to compromise on the fireside memory making. Take smokeless coal for example: these magnificent chaps produce 80% less smoke than traditional coals. ‘Where can I buy smokeless coal?’ we hear you cry. We’ve got you covered. Big K’s Smokeless Coal burns hotter and longer than traditional coals, boasting a whopping 5 to 6 hour burn time.

This is due to the anthracite base of the smokeless coal. Anthracite is a naturally occurring mineral that is hard and energy-dense with a high carbon base. There are no chemicals or artificial products in smokeless coals. Smokeless coals also burn hotter! How hot? 1000 degrees Fahrenheit hot! The ability of smokeless fuel to draw in oxygen from the air to burn efficiently means it produces more heat. More heat means more hours of enjoying your time outdoors under the stars on a nippy night.

Although it’s a few months away, nobody really relishes the idea of freezing off for months in wintry weather. Smokeless coals also work great in multi-fuel stoves to get you all heated up when the degrees drop on the temperature scale. What separates a regular wood stove and a multi fuel stove you may ask? You can only burn wood in wood stove. Where as you can burn wood, pellets, and coal in a multi-fuel stove. If a stove possesses a grate for the fire to sit on, and a removable ash pan – it qualifies as a multi fuel stove.

 

A bunch of smokeless fuel wood burns with orange flames in a fireplace

 

How to burn smokeless coal in a multi-fuel stove 

Open the door to your stove and place a natural wood wool firelighter on top of a bed of fuel such as logs or coal. Cover this stack with kindling, and then place more logs, coal, or briquettes around it. The firelighters should be lit directly, and once the fire begins burning consistently, add more fuel as required to keep it lit.

You will need

  1. Big K smokeless coal 
  2. Multi fuel stove (obviously)
  3. Woodies natural firelighter 
  4. Kindling
  5. Lighter or match sticks

Make sure your stove is empty! By chance, if it is, place a bottom layer of BIG K smokeless coal. Proceed to place a firelighter on the top centre of the smokeless coal. Stack the firelighter with a bit of kindling and surround the kindling with more smokeless coals or smokeless logs. Finally, light the firelighter and watch the coals ignite. Add more smokeless fuel to keep it lit as long as you like.

If your insatiable appetite for more smokeless fuel info needs satisfying, you can check out our previous blog on smokeless fuel for more insights. Our guide to buying smokeless coal can give you a heads up of what to look out for when you go eco next time you spark up your barbecue or fire pit.

It doesn’t hurt anybody to think a little more about the environment. Even the smallest action, like choosing smokeless fuels, can play a part. We hope that you’ll have your eco hat on the next time we connect on the interwebs!