10 Best Firewood Alternative for Fire Pit and Fireplace

Susan Foster

Last updated Mar 2, 2024
Susan! The traveler and cheerleader of our team. She always has instant and backup ideas. She is our DIYs and blog specialist.

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Wood has been the traditional fuel for the fire pit or fireplace for eras. We feel nostalgia when we smell the burning wood. The crackle, the sound of burning wood remind us of the giggles and cheering we had with our loved ones. But this nostalgia is no more worthy for the sake of our environment and health. Moreover, the woods are expensive too. 

In this writing, you will have a lot to explore, raising problems using wood as fuel, to the best alternative for firewood. This article will also provide you the additional information about what you should not use as fire fuel. Lastly, some bonus tips for you!

The Problems of Using Wood in A Fire Pit 

The environmental aspect of burning wood

Burning wood causes the production of a massive amount of carbon monoxide. That leads to extreme air pollution. Moreover, using wood as a fuel leads to cutting down trees. Which means? Inevitable deforestation!

Wood smoke affecting health 

Wood smoke releases carbon monoxide and other fatal particles into the air.  Benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAs) are some of them. Inhaling these can cause cough and other severe breathing issues.  Also, tiny wood particles and the fume cause irritation in the eyes and nose. 

Additionally, in this recent Covid situation, we should take extra care of our respiratory organs.


Not all woods are fit for burn in a homely environment. There is a selected range of woods for burning into a fire pit or fireplace. And their collection, utilization process, and availability make them expensive. 

Take up to more place to store 

Keeping dry and protecting woods from rain or snowfall takes additional effort, physical work, and storing them demands large space in your store or yard. Nowadays, very few homes come with that extra space.  

Inhibited in some Neighborhood 

Many neighborhood and government environment activists have now strongly inhibited the use of wood as fire fuel. So wanting to use wood in your firepit can cause you to move your place. Who wants these unnecessary hassles?

10 Best Wood Alternative for Firepit & Fireplace 

So, what should you use as your fire fuel in the alternative to wood? Nothing to worry about at all. The solution is here. 

We are bringing you the Ten best fire fuel for your fire pit or fireplace in alternatives to wood. These selected alternatives are eco-friendly, safe for health. Moreover cheap, easy to get, and has good fuel efficiency.

1. Organic Briquettes 

firewood alternative

Also known as biomass briquettes/green charcoal, getting popular as a substitute fuel. The primary materials of organic briquettes are agro-waste, organic materials like rice husk, corn cobs, and municipal solid waste. Organic briquettes are very cheap, produce low smoke, low ash, and almost no odor.

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2. Sawdust Brick 

Sawdust Brick

Sawdust bricks are densified recycled sawdust and waste wood chips. These all ingredients dried up in a kiln. It requires almost zero cost to produce. This condensed sawdust brick burns cleaner. Also, these bricks are not harmful to health. It is a more sustainable fuel alternative than traditional wood. 

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3. Wood Pellet 

Wood Pellet

Like wood brick, wood pellets are preparation of sawdust and wastage of lumber mill. Wood pellets produce less char than wood. That makes burning them safe. It comes in a tiny shape with bags full. So it takes less space to store. For enabling wood pellets fuel efficiency, all you need is just an insertable tray for your patio. These trays are cheap and regularly available.

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4. Switchgrass/Soy Log 

Switchgrass/Soy Log

Many farmers are growing switchgrass and soy to use these as fuel. This type of plant contains natural wax and burns sufficiently in a fire pit. The log making process is the same as biomass briquette. Just like the biomass briquette, it causes zero harm to the environment.

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5. Gas Fire/ Natural Gas 

Gas Fire/ Natural Gas

A well-known fuel alternative for wood is natural gas. And there is a single type of firepit which is run by gas, called a gas fire pit. It requires an easy installation procedure, which can be done by a plumber or self as well. Natural gas is inexpensive but burns very clean. Safe for use both indoor and outdoor.

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6. LPG 


LPG’s full form is Liquified petroleum gas. It is the composition of inflammable hydrocarbons. There are vast usages of LPG in the residential area. For heating, cooking, and so on. LPG is entirely safe for health. Moreover, it emits 50% fewer pollutants than other traditional fuels. LPG can be the best alternative for firewood.

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7. Lava Rocks

Lava Rocks

Lava rocks can be a unique alternative for fire fuel. You can use lava rocks as filler in your fire pit. It burns the best along with the slightest amount of alcohol gel, plant-based wax, or natural gas. It allows the gas or added fuel for transforming in all directions. Lava stone is reusable. It does not produce any char, so you get a clean firepit every time.

You may also like: The Best Rocks for Fire Pit

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8. Compressed Paper Bricks 

Compressed Paper Bricks

Your paper trash and old cardboard can be a good alternative for firewood. Blend your old paper stock with water. Set the mixture in a simple mold. Densify it with more cardboard or sawdust. Dry up and use in your fire pit. It burns enough to light and warms up your firepit area. But make sure not to burn a single sheet of paper. It will produce flying ash and char. If you want, you can watch a video of this process.

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9. Gel Fuel 

Gel Fuel

Gel fuel is smokeless and soot free. It is a mixer of isopropyl alcohol and other organic material sometimes. It comes in different weight cans. A minimum sized can of gel (13oz / 385ml) burns up to 2-3 hours. Open the can lid, place the gel cans in your fire pit or fireplace, flame with a match or lighter. It is easy for real!

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10. Electric Fire 

Electric Fire

You can easily use renewable energy to produce electric fire. It will not make visible flame but efficient enough for yielding heat to warm up your winter night. The electric fire has no harmful effect on health. It has a neutral impact on the environment than other fuel sources.

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What You Should Not Use in A Fire Pit As An Alternative Fuel 

There are so many harmless looking things in our surroundings. But when these things get burned create fatal toxicity. Burning these items produce carbon dioxide and heavy black smoke. That will pollute your indoor or outdoor area. Yet these things release toxic and carcinogens while burning. That is why to be sure about what you are burning. Do not burn, 


There is extensive use of plastic a lot in our everyday life. Most of the plastic products are near to non-degradable. Non recycled is already a significant threat to the environment, but it worsens when it burns. While burning plastic releases toxins like furan, mercury, dioxin, and others. That will pollute the environment and also will adversely affect your health.


Waste products made of rubber, like old tier, old water pipes, old shoes, other rubber made things are also threatening for the environment and health if they get burned.

Treated wood 

Do not fire any treated wood like painted or stained wood, deck lumbers, driftwood, and railroad ties. These things also release deadly chemicals like arsenic while burning.

Untreated paper

Untreated papers are also not safe for burning. It produces fly ash, which will make your pit dirty and mess to clean. The ash can fly into the nose or eyes, so be careful about burning a single piece of paper. 

You may also like: Best ash vacuum

Poisonous wood or plants 

There are many species of plants that tend to be poisonous. The poisonous ivy, poisonous oak is deceiving with the non-poisonous ones. These woods will emit toxic fumes if they get burned. That can harm you fatally by causing breathing problems or creating a rash. So always be sure.

Household trash. 

Trash like food scraps, broken household items, animal waste, and others are not appropriate for burning. This trash can produce non-removable char or soots, which can spoil your fireplace or fire pit area.

Bonus Tips for Making Your Fire Extra Beneficial 

Last few words for letting you know some tips which can make your fire fuel extra beneficial.  

  • Add some Lavender or Citronella to your fire. They both work as mosquito repellers and have a pleasant smell, which you will love!
  • Use Peppermint in an outdoor fire. Its strong fragrance will keep any type-of insects away along with mosquitoes. 
  • Burning Sage emits a sweet fragrance. Perfect for making your ambiance soothing and mystic! 

I hope you might have something helpful from this writing. Choose the best firewood alternative for your fire pit or fireplace. Keep the environment fresh and burn the fire clean. 

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