Do Propane Fire Pits Smell Bad? Is This A Normal Thing? (2022)

Even if your fire pit is putting off adequate heat, you won’t enjoy the ambiance if it emits a terrible smell. Also, can you roast and eat marshmallows and hot dogs when your propane fire pit is giving off a bad smell?

Do Propane Fire Pits Smell Bad? Is This A Normal Thing? (1)

Although they shouldn’t, sometimes propane units smell bad.Do you want to know how to combat the terrible smell? We’ll give you advice on that and answer other FAQs concerning these fire pits.

Quick Navigation

  • Which Is Better Propane or Wood Fire Pit?
    • Merits of Wood Fire Pits
    • Demerits of Wood Fire Pits
    • Merits of Propane Fire Pit
    • Demerits of Propane Firepits
  • Are Propane Fire Pits Bad for the Environment?
  • Why Do I Smell Propane From My Fire Pit?
    • Propane Leaks
    • Setup Smells
    • Material Type
    • Burnt Smell
    • Other Factors
  • How Long Does Propane Last for a Fire Pit?
  • Is it Safe to Use a Propane Fire Pit Indoors?
  • Are Propane Fire Pits Worth It?
  • Conclusion

Which Is Better Propane or Wood Fire Pit?

The question of whether to go for a propane or wood fire pit is common.

Your decisiondepends on many factors, i.e., how much you are willing to spend on purchasing a fire pit, what level of commitment do you have towards fire pit maintenance practices, how much can you spare for fuel refilling plus repair and upgrades, and what kind of outdoor experience are you looking for in a fire pit.

Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to make an informed decision. Here is some information on propane and wood fire pits’ benefits and downsides to help you with your decision.

Merits of Wood Fire Pits

  • Wood-burning pits typically require less money for materials acquisition than propane fire pits
  • These units take less time to install than propane units
  • Wood-burning units cost less to install than propane fire pits
  • The brilliant visible flame from wood-burning units is a spectacular site
  • It’s easy to determine when fuel is over in a wood-burning pit
  • Thanks to their vast amounts of smoke and pungent smells, wood-burning units keep bugs away
  • Wood-burning units produce better tasting food than propane gas fire pits
  • These units allow food smoking, unlike a gas firepit
  • Wood-burning units offer more heat than propane fire pits hence better ambiance
  • Are more flexible in terms of the location to place them compared to a gas firepit

Demerits of Wood Fire Pits

  • Wood-burning units are tedious to start a flame
  • They produce more smoke and poisonous carbon monoxide compared to other fire pits
  • Wood-burning units are tedious to clean
  • These units are more prone to accidental fire outbreaks
  • Wood-burning units require continuous firewood addition
  • It takes a larger area to install a wood-burning fire pit than gas counterparts
  • Wood-burning units require a place to store your firewood
  • They are difficult and tedious to control the heat output

Merits of Propane Fire Pit

  • Easier to get a fire going than a wood fire pit
  • Produce fewer pollutants thus more environmentally-friendly
  • Don’t leave behind ashes, hence have minimal cleaning practices
  • Don’t produce embers; hence fewer chances of a fire hazard
  • Are more compact than wood-burning outdoor fire pits
  • Don’t require more space for logs
  • Temperature control with less fire maintenance practices

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(Video) No More Wood Campfires! It's Time to Switch to Propane Firepits

Demerits of Propane Firepits

  • Generally cost more to purchase and install than wood-burning models
  • If a gas line rupture, the resultant fire will be hard to control
  • Require large propane tanks and are costly to refill
  • Take longer to install
  • Limited food preparation options, i.e., no smoking
  • Require you to purchase bug repellants
  • The hardly-visible pale blue flame doesn’t give a realistic feel of a fire
  • Produce carbon monoxide although in lesser amounts than wood-burning models

The content above is enough to help you choose which among the two offers more convenience. If you want to cook and get extra warmth, go for wood-burning models. Propane models are ideal for those who want minimal maintenance practices.

Are Propane Fire Pits Bad for the Environment?

You may question whether using your outdoor fire pit usage is good for the environment.These outdoor fire pits have some detrimental effects on the environment.Besides, if you misuse them, they are more dangerous to you than to the surroundings.

These units rely on fuel combustion as their heat source, similar to wood-burning, LPG, and natural gas fire pits. Upon burning, they result in carbon monoxide production. This gas is lethal to living organisms.

If you use a wood-burning, LPG, propane, or natural gas fire pit in a poorly-ventilated covered patio or gazebo, you’ll get poisoned.

Carbon monoxide poisoning causes many detrimental results. It leads to migraines, seizures, coma, temporary memory loss, death, among others. The worst part is that you won’t know you are inhaling poison as this gas is odorless and tasteless.

So, make sure you use your gas fire pit in spaces with a good oxygen supply like your backyard.

Why Do I Smell Propane From My Fire Pit?

There are various answers to this question. Let’s look at the multiple reasons for odors in your unit.

Propane Leaks

A terrible smell might be a sign of a gas leak in your outdoor fire pit. Some say it smells like rotten eggs. Others describe the smell as sewage-like pungent.

No matter the term you use, we all agree that propane gas has an unpleasant odor. However, if you have a properly installed unit, you shouldn’t detect this smell.

One of the few clean-burning fuel sources is propane. That means that it shouldn’t leave behind many contaminants upon combustion.

(Video) How To Install A Gas Fire Pit

If your propane gas fire pit smells, some propane might be escaping without burning. This is mostly due to a leak. If the gas comes to contact with your outdoor fire pit’s flame, the resultant fire is uncontrollable.

Sometimes, however, you may get an occasional puff of this foul smell. That shouldn’t worry you much because it helps to keep the burning process going.

However, if the smell persists, quickly turn off your heater and get a certified gas professional. Some experts recommend avoidances of landline and electricity usage within your home if you have a gas unit. These may form sparks that will ignite the leaked gas.

Observe caution. Although gas explosions are rare, you may be next if you’re careless.

Setup Smells

What materials are in your outdoor fire pit? The type of products in your backyard unit might be the issue. These items affect burning.

When using paints and fake wood in your fire pit, you’ll conduct extensive burning. This ensures these products receive ample heat for proper curing. It should take at least three hours.

During your first usage times, you may still get the smell. However, it eventually disappears.

Material Type

The kind of material you line your unit’s bottom with may account for the bad smell. Opt for materials that are highly heat-resistant and don’t crumble or discolor under high heat. Examples include;

  • Glass
  • Lava rock
  • River rock
  • Silica sand

When you use river or lava rock, they may emit smells once you light your pit. Silica sand’s smell varies with its purity level.

If the smells from these materials affect you, consider glass.

Burnt Smell

A smoky or burnt smell is a sign that your outdoor fire pit is dirty. Over time debris(and sometimes soot)settles on and around your outdoor fire pit. When you turn it on, these materials burn to result in a smoky smell.

When you get this smell, you should;

(Video) Gas Smell at Fire Place

  • Dust your pit
  • Let your pit cool completely
  • Use a rag to wipe all surfaces containing dust
  • Be keener while wiping valves and vent ducts
  • Replace vents and grates you removed while dusting

Dusting may seem like something you don’t have to rush to do. However, these materials create heat that may spoil your pit’s parts, prompting repair.

Other Factors

If all the above aren’t the issue, try this last option. Almost anything produces a smell once heated. Therefore, check the materials around your backyard unit.

Remove everything and reintroduce them progressively. You should identify the cause of this smell.

How Long Does Propane Last for a Fire Pit?

The kind of fire pit and your temperature settings determine how long you‘ll use your propane tank.

A 20-pound tank lasts 3-6 hours on average. Sometimes, this amount lasts up to 9 hours or 1 ½ hours depending on your BTU rating.

A 20-pound propane tank has a 430 000 BTU capacity. To determine the length of time, divide this number with your pit’s BTU rating.

Besides your temperature settings, the weather also determines your fuel depletion rate. For instance, on windy and chilly days, you’ll have to set your fire pit at high output.

Is it Safe to Use a Propane Fire Pit Indoors?

This question is one of the most common questions people ask concerning indoor heating. Whether you can or can’t use a propane fire pit or other gas heating method indoorsdepends on ventilation.

This fire pit, since it involves fuel combustion, leads to carbon monoxide production. As we discussed earlier, there are numerous harmful side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you have a poorly ventilated home(mostly old houses), you shouldn’t try fuel combustion warming methods indoors.

Don’t assume that leaving some windows open while using it is okay. An uninformed family member or friend may turn it on while you’re away without considering ventilation.

So, if your house has excellent ventilation, it’s okay. With low ventilation features, seek electric fireplaces and heaters for indoor warming.

(Video) Building A Propane Fire Pit - Paver Fire Pit For Propane Tank [TZMBY PART 2]

A breach in your gas line connection leads to leakage. A slight spark is enough to create an explosion. Remember, a propane fire pit features an open flame. Besides this gas, there are numerous flammable materials, including your dishwashing soap.

Therefore, the incidences of fire are higher than when using an electric fireplace or heater. A fire in your stand-alone gazebo won’t destroy too much property. Imagine a fire razing down your entire house!

These are some of the reasons why numerous people prefer an electric fireplace or heater for indoor warming.

Are Propane Fire Pits Worth It?

As mentioned earlier, this fire pit has numerous benefits. Besides, they have an average heat output ranging between 40, 000- 100, 000 BTUs. Thus, they have ample warmth for small and averagely-sized gatherings.

Make sure you observe fire pit maintenance practices like covering it after usage. Remember to inspect the causes of soot and black smoke in your fire pit. When you properly maintain your fire pit, you’ll lengthen its life span and get the most out of it.

The short answer to this question is, they are a worthwhile investment, but they require a lot of proper care.


So, back to our main question: do propane fire pits smell bad?

With proper installation, these fire pits don’t have a terrible smell. However, if you smell propane, ensure you immediately shut your fire pit.

Use the information in your manual to troubleshoot the problem. If the problem persists, call a certified professional to look into it.

Remember that smells may also be present during the first times of using your fire pit. These shouldn’t worry you much as they are probably things like chemical additives and paints.

The way you maintain your unit also determines the presence of terrible smells. Make sure to cover your fire pit when not using it. You’ll minimize dirt build-up and insect infestation in your pit.

Finally, clean your pit and the area around it from time to time to enjoy the most from it.

(Video) Crazy heat retention from steel logs on a propane gas fire pit


Do Propane Fire Pits Smell Bad? Is This A Normal Thing? ›

Propane is the fuel that powers your fire pit. It's a fuel source that burns clean. This means that it leaves behind almost no contaminants or particulates after burning. There isn't anything to smell; it's all burned away.

Is it bad if you can smell propane? ›

Propane vapor is not toxic, but it is an asphyxiating gas. That means propane will displace the oxygen in your lungs, making it difficult or impossible to breathe if exposed to high concentrations. If you suspect you have inhaled a significant amount of propane, call 911.

Can you make a propane fire pit smell like wood? ›

Sprinkle cedar wood fragrance oil near your fireplace, or pour it into a small votive holder, to emit a wood scent.

Do outdoor propane heaters smell? ›

Natural gas and propane burn cleaner, producing no smoke or odor, so they may feel more environmentally friendly. However, they are not environmentally neutral—like any electric, propane, or natural gas device, they still consume energy and potentially produce carbon dioxide.

What does burning propane smell like? ›

Your nose is your first defense against a propane gas leak because propane manufacturers add a chemical to propane to make it smell like rotten eggs (on its own, propane gas is actually odorless).

Do propane fire pits smell? ›

So…do propane fire pits smell? They shouldn't. Propane is clean-burning, meaning that you shouldn't smell much of anything from the flame. If you smell anything more than the occasional whiff of gas, you should turn off the flame immediately and have the unit serviced before turning it on again.

How long does it take for propane smell to go away? ›

Because it takes an hour or two for the gas to dissipate – the safety recommendations are to never turn on any electric device or spark a flame (i.e. light a candle or cigarette) if you are in a house with a possible gas leak. It's also the reason to leave the house until it has been cleared by the first responders.

How long can you run a propane fire pit? ›

The average gas fire pit will last from 3 to 6 hours on a 20 lb. propane tank. Depending on your fire pit BTU rating a tank can last you as long as 9 hours, or as little as 1-1/2 hours. A 20 pound propane tank contains approximately 430,000 BTU's.

How can I make my propane fireplace smell better? ›

The best way to prevent smells in a gas fireplace is to improve the quality of air in your home. If you smoke, take it outside. If you have pets, vacuum regularly and consider investing in a room air purifier. Avoid the use of harsh cleaning chemicals and plug-in deodorizer.

How can I make my fire pit smell better? ›

Place small bundles of rosemary on the outer edges of the fire to give a sweet, pine scent. For a sharper aroma try dried sage which leaves a lingering, lighter scent.

Is it normal to smell propane with a propane heater? ›

Propane and natural gas are naturally odorless, so an odor is added that smells like rotten eggs or rotting in general. This makes it easier to detect in case of a leak. If you smell this, you could have propane or gas leaking into your home.

What does it mean if you smell propane? ›

If You Smell Gas In Your House…

Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or a fire. Leave the area immediately! If you smell propane inside, get yourself and your family out of the home as quickly as possible.

Can you get carbon monoxide poisoning from a propane heater? ›

However, if you will be heating a room inside a home or other building, choose an electric space heater instead, because propane heaters can pose a carbon monoxide hazard when used without adequate ventilation.

What should you do if you smell propane? ›

Call your propane supplier right away — from a neighbor's home or nearby building — and if you can't reach them, call 911 or your local fire department. Do not return to the building or area. Wait until your propane supplier, an emergency responder, or a qualified service technician determines that it is safe to do so.

Does propane smell more when tank is low? ›

It's also good to be aware that you may smell a strong odor of propane gas when your tank is empty. This is because the odor can sometimes settle and collect in the bottom of the tank. When the propane supply runs low, you are left simply with the concentrated odor.

What are the symptoms of propane poisoning? ›

  • Burning sensation.
  • Convulsions.
  • Cough.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fever.
  • General weakness.
  • Headache.
Feb 12, 2021

Why does my propane fireplace smell like propane? ›

If you're getting a true propane or natural gas odor from gas logs or space heaters there's more than likely a very small gas leak that is causing the odor and that can be fixed by repairing the leak. If it is a gas leak inside the fireplace you should smell it all the time and not just when the logs are operating.

Can you roast marshmallows over a propane fire pit? ›

While gas fire pits are mostly used for esthetics, you can use them to roast marshmallows if the mood for some s'mores strikes you. Honestly, they're no different from a gas grill, and they're completely safe. You can roast marshmallows on a propane fire pit as well as a natural gas fire pit.

What can go wrong with a propane fire pit? ›

If you still have pilot light problems, the valve may be faulty and now it's time to call an expert technician. You have pilot and burner flame but there is a whistling sound. What to do? A few of the most common culprits are bends in the flexible lines, too much gas supply, and wrong size gas line.

How can you tell if your propane tank is leaking? ›

Checking for a propane tank leak is easy. Apply soapy water or a special leak detector solution to where the propane tank's cylinder valve and regulator outlet connect. Next, you'll need to slowly open the cylinder valve. Bubbles will form if there is a leak.

Does a carbon monoxide detector detect propane? ›

You should have CO detectors on every level of your home, and outside all sleeping areas. But most carbon monoxide detectors do not detect propane in your home. So, you need propane detectors as well. Contact us to learn more about propane detectors.

Should you open propane tank valve all the way? ›

You should open a propane tank valve all the way when using a grill. The valves are double sealing which means they seal in a fully open or closed position. Turning it partially increases the chances of gas leaking. Turn the valve counterclockwise (in the “Open” arrow direction) until it stops.

How safe is a propane fire pit? ›

Gas fire pits do not emit sparks or smoke the same way a traditional wood fire does. For these reasons, they're often safer from both a fire hazard and health standpoint. While the previously noted risk of pooling gas may be a concern, this can easily be avoided with proper installation and maintenance.

How long will a 20lb propane tank last on a fire pit? ›

For the Fire Pit, a 20# propane tank will last approximately 4 to 4 ½ hours at a continuous burn at the maximum output. The tank will last approximately 8-9 hours at a moderate gas output.

How far should propane fire pit be from house? ›

Place your fire pit at a safe distance (10-25 feet) from any flammable structures or surfaces. This includes your house, trees, shed, vehicle, neighbors' property, and wood deck, among other things. Keep your fire pit away from overhanging branches.

Is it normal for a gas fireplace to smell? ›

Although it is normal for a fireplace to omit a slight odor, it is important to take proper precautions if you think you may smell a potential gas leak. Natural gas itself is odorless, but has an additive that makes it smell like rotten eggs.

What can I put in my gas fireplace to make it smell good? ›

Hickory, apple or cherry wood chips give off a great smoky scent. Soak 1/2 cup of wood chips in a bowl of water for 30 minutes to an hour. Drain and place wood chips in smoker box. If using an empty tin can instead of a smoker box, place wood chips inside tin can and cover with lid or aluminum foil.

Should a gas fireplace have a smell? ›

Should You Smell Gas When Using A Gas Fireplace? Ventless gas fireplaces may produce a faint gas smell during use, but any strong rotten egg gas smells associated with any form of gas fireplace should be considered as a gas leak and you should leave the house immediately and get professional advice.

Is propane toxic to breathe? ›

Breathing in or swallowing propane can be harmful. Propane takes the place of oxygen in the lungs. This makes breathing difficult or impossible.

Can you get carbon monoxide poisoning from a propane leak? ›

Inhaling carbon monoxide can be very dangerous for health and may even cause death. Carbon monoxide is released when appliances and vehicles burn combustibles such as propane, wood and fuel oil.

Can you smell propane when tank is low? ›

Empty Propane Tanks

It's also good to be aware that you may smell a strong odor of propane gas when your tank is empty. This is because the odor can sometimes settle and collect in the bottom of the tank. When the propane supply runs low, you are left simply with the concentrated odor.

Are propane heater fumes harmful? ›

Like other fuels, such as oil or natural gas, propane is perfectly safe for use as a home heating fuel. Propane itself is non-toxic, so it will not cause health issues.


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4. Common Wood Stove and Firplace Backdraft Smoke Issues
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