Can You Burn Leaves In A Fire Pit? [ANSWERED]

Autumn is just around the corner. This means that in a few short months, every square inch of your yard/patio/deck is going to be covered in leaves. If you’re like me, you get tired of raking, bagging, and composting. In fact, you might be a bit tempted to start a nice fire in your fire pit and take care of the problem that way. But should you burn leaves in your fire pit? Long-time reader Robert S. had the same question:

Hey guys! I was wondering if you knew if it was safe/legal to burn leaves in my wood burning fire pit. Any insight would be great!

– Robert S.

Well, Robert, the answer is complicated. Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with burning leaves generally, special care must be taken in order to keep the fire contained. And there are plenty of reasons to choose something better than a fire pit!

raging fire

Is It Legal For Me To Burn Leaves?

The first question you have to answer is whether or not your town/city has any sort of open burning / leaf burning bans. You might need a permit, or dry conditions may prevent you from burning on that specific day. Do not get yourself in trouble over a fire.

Can I Burn Wet Leaves?

Dry leaves are ideal fuel for an autumn fire, but can you also burn wet leaves? You can, but that doesn’t mean you want to. Not only are they harder to start a fire, but wet leaves will generate a ton of smoke. I’m not kidding, you’ll be choking and gasping for air if you try to burn too many wet leaves.

Does Burning Leaves Hurt The Environment?

Unfortunately, burning leaves does release air contaminants into your immediate area. This can exacerbate allergies and other health conditions. There’s also a risk of forest fires, which would be devastating to the environment.

What Can I Burn Leaves In?

If not a fire pit, what can you burn leaves in? Mainly, you want to make sure that a couple things don’t happen when you decide to burn:

This brings one thing in particular to my mind: a burn barrel. A 55-gallon steel drum can be outfitted with air-holes and can hold a lot of leaves.

All I Have Is A Fire Pit! What Should I Do?

If you’re dead set on using a fire pit to burn leaves, you should at least have a fire pit screen (we covered this topic entirely, check out the article). You sincerely don’t want to have a rogue ember start the forest fire of the century. And don’t breathe in the smoke.


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