Gas Fire Pit Vs. Wood, Factful Guide For Best Results

Fire pit gas or wood

If you close your eyes and think about sitting around a fire on a chilly autumn evening, what type of fire immediately comes to mind? Most people would probably visualize a crackling log fire! There is good reason this is our go-to image of a cozy fire but is a wood-burning fire pit the way to go or gas? Comparing these two very different fire pit types will help you to make the best fire pit choice!

Gas fire pits are clean-burning, easier to keep clean, and in some municipalities the only firepits allowed. Woodfire pits have a better ambiance and traditional flames. Further, wood pits can be used to cook on and are cheaper than gas fire pits to install and maintain.

While a wood fire is what our minds imagine for a fire pit, it is not always the best nor most appropriate choice for a fire pit. Gas fire pits have been around for some time and offer significant benefits over wood and could be a better choice. In some cases, the only chance for having a fire pit in your outdoor entertainment area.

Is A Gas Fire Pit Better Than Wood?

Since humans learned to harness the power of fire, the use of fire in the home has brought many conveniences and cemented certain ideological thoughts regarding the use of fire. As a result, fire no longer brings on feelings of fear but quite the opposite.

Fire implies warmth, comfort, a hot meal, social interaction, friends and family, and even romantic, cozy feelings. So is it any wonder we have difficulty choosing what the best firepit is for our home?

Most people’s reasons for installing or building a fire pit are to enhance their outdoor space. Like for entertainment, extending the seasons to enjoy the outdoors, and for the atmosphere and ambiance.

The choice of whether to go gas or wood may be up to your personal preference, or you may only be allowed to go gas, depending on your local legislation.

Let’s take a comparative look at these two types of fire pits and see what benefits each have and the negatives associated with each type. The comparison will help you to make the best choice possible for your fire pit.

We will give each fire pit a rating out of 5 for each category and then see how they compare against each other at the end. A rating of 1/5 would be a poor rating, while a 5/5 rating would be a good rating.

Gas Vs. Wood Fire Pit Ambiance And Atmosphere, Which is most pleasing?

The reason for a fire pit is not only for warmth, but also to lend some atmosphere to our outside entertainment area.

Gas and wood-burning fire pits have very different characteristics regarding their look and feel, affecting the level of ambiance and atmosphere the two types provide.

Wood-burning fire pits provide better ambiance and atmosphere than gas fire pits. The combination of crackle and pop of a wood fire pit, with the aromas of woodsmoke wafting on the breeze. Plus, the orange dancing flame of the fire better matches our criteria of what a fire pit should be.

wood fire ambient warmth

Wood-burning fire pits have a more rural, rustic charm than gas-burning fire pits, which are more clinical and modern-looking.

For a rating out of 5, we would have to give wood a 4/5 and gas a 3/5 for ambiance and atmosphere.

Wood won this round; check out wood Firepits on Amazon

Gas Vs. Wood Fire Pit Fuel, Which is easiest to use?

All fire pits require fuel to burn to make them the centerpiece of our entertainment area. However, there are significant differences between wood and gas as a fuel that bear consideration when choosing a fire pit.

A gas fire pit burns cleaner than wood, produces less smoke, and is less harmful to the environment. Gas is easier to store than large piles of firewood, and in many areas, it is more accessible than wood. Wood-burning fire pits require more frequent cleaning to remove ash and soot after it has been used.

Wood fires are messy; they produce smoke that can irritate those suffering from chest complications. Further, it may result in an angry neighbor or two when the smoke from your fire pit blows over your garden wall into their living room windows!

Wood fires produce ash and residue, which requires more frequent cleaning of the fire pit. The smoke and fumes produced are copious and contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gasses.

You can go through a fair amount of wood in an evening sitting by the fire pit, so you need space to store your firewood as well.

Gas fire pit for convenience

In contrast, gas fire pits do not produce smoke, do not leave ash behind in the fire pit, and don’t add as much pollution and gasses detrimental to the environment. Storage of gas is in a single gas cylinder if you are using propane, or no storage requirements at all if you are using natural gas, piped right to your fire pit.

For our rating, gas fire pits receive a 5/5 and wood a 3/5 score.

Gas Won this round; check out Gas Firepits on Amazon

Gas Vs. Wood Fire Pit Heat Output, Which has more?

Another reason for installing a fire pit is to generate heat to warm people sitting around the fire pit and to extend your outdoor season. The effectiveness of the heat generation will determine how well a fire pit performs in this aspect.

Gas fire pits can keep you warm but have a lower heat intensity than a wood fire pit. However, wood-burning fire pits generate significantly greater heat. Since wood burns much hotter than gas, producing more heat and warming a larger area around the fire pit.

Wood firepit ready

Even though wood burns hotter than gas, the additional heat comes at increased mess and pollution. If you have a bigger backyard, this may not be an issue. Plus, you can mix your cooled ash into your compost bin to enrich the contents.

For heat generation, we score the wood pit a 4/5 and the gas a 3/5.

Wood won this round; check out wood fire pits on Amazon

Gas Vs. Wood Fire Pit Safety, Which is better?

When examining the safety aspect of the two fire pit types, the relevance of location comes into play. For example, a wood fire may not be the best choice if you are in an arid area prone to droughts near forests or even close to your neighbor. On the other hand, gas is a volatile fuel, which also has safety issues in some circumstances.

Wood fires produce embers that can travel on the wind and start fires in the surrounding wilderness area, your neighborhood, or even your own backyard or neighbor’s yard. In addition, gas has the safety risk of gas leaks that can cause fires or explosions. The highest safety risk, however, is from a wood fire.

The flames of a wood-fueled fire can become very high depending on the amount of wood stacked on the fire. This can pose a fire hazard for low-hanging trees, roof structures, and furniture surrounding the fire pit.

Embers from wood fires have been known to drift surprising distances on the wind and start fires miles away from the original fire. This poses a fire hazard for your home, neighbor, general neighborhood, and even outlying fields, woods, and wilderness areas.

over stuffed wood firepit

Gas is a volatile fuel, and no gas system is immune to possible leaks and fire risks. However, the safety standards for gas supply and gas-related products make a gas fire pit substantially safer than a wood-burning fire pit.

For safety, the wood-burning fire pit scores a 2/5 and the gas fire pit a safe 4/5!

Gas Won this round; check out Gas Firepits on Amazon

Cooking Over A Fire Pit: Gas Vs. Wood

Many people have an expectation that they will be able to use their fire pit as a place to cook or barbeque in their entertainment area. However, this expectation may be unrealistic, depending on your fire pit choice.

Gas fire pits should not be used for cooking or for barbeque. The food particles and juices can clog the gas vents, reducing the fire’s efficiency and requiring much effort or cost to clean. Wood-burning fire pits are easier to cook on and can double as a barbeque for your entertainment area.

Gas fire pits are not designed to cook food or to be used as a barbeque. Doing so could clog the gas outlet nozzles, which will require dismantling and cleaning. Greasy food drippings on the fire pit look unsightly and will require more frequent cleaning. The only thing you should consider cooking on your gas fire pit is marshmallows!

On the other hand, Wood-burning fire pits can cook or barbeque on, depending on their design. You would still need to clean the fire pit frequently to remove food residue, but you would be cleaning the fire pit anyway to remove the ash.

Gas fire pits receive a 1/5 score for cooking, and wood fire pits a 3/5!

Wood won this round; check out wood Firepits on Amazon.

Gas Vs. Wood Fire Pit Legalities, Which are you allowed?

Fire pits, in general, can be a potentially hazardous feature in your backyard or, even to a greater extent, your whole neighborhood. This is why some local authorities and municipalities regulate their installation and use. Plus, they get to collect a permit fee, but that is a whole other rant.

In some municipalities, open wood fires are outlawed completely, making it illegal to install or use a wood-burning fire pit. In some localities, gas-burning fire pits can be installed under permit but require installation by a certified professional gas installer to ensure safety standards are kept.

The legalities of a fire pit are location-specific, so before setting your heart on installing a fire pit, check the local government body for what regulations are in your area.

Wood firepit after last night

Many urban and suburban local authorities ban wood fire pits due to the nuisance factor, pollution, and safety risks. However, rural areas are less strict on open fires unless the region is arid, and runaway wildfires are a real threat.

Propane gas fire pits may be allowed without a permit in some areas, but installing a natural gas fire pit may require a permit. As well as the gas line installed by a certified professional.

The key takeaway point is to always check the legalities of a fire pit in your area before installing one.

Woodfire pits score a 2/5 for legality since they are more strictly controlled, and gas fire pits score a 3/5 for permit requirements.

Gas Won this round; check out Gas Firepits on Amazon

Gas Vs. Wood Fire Pit Cost, Which can you afford?

Most of us have to work to a restricted budget when it involves items for our home that are considered a luxury rather than a must-have! Wouldn’t the choice be so much easier if money was not a limiting factor? I guess that goes without saying.

In most cases, wood-burning fire pits are substantially cheaper to purchase and install on average, up to 50% less than gas fire pits. Woodfire pits cost between $50 to $1300 compared to the gas fire pit costs of $900 to $4000. In addition, wood firepits have cheaper fuel and lower ongoing maintenance costs.

The costs involved in installing a fire pit include the cost of the hardware, the labor to install, the cost of the fuel, and the ongoing maintenance costs of the fire pit.

Wood-burning fire pits are a much simpler design and construction, and in many instances, can be a DIY-build. The hardware required for the fire pit is low-tech and does not require professional installation or knowledge. These factors keep the installation costs for a wood fire pit lower.

The installation cost for a gas fire pit is greater because the hardware is more expensive, and the construction of the fire pit must be according to prescribed national safety standards. This often requires professional installation by a certified professional, increasing the costs associated with the fire pit. This is of particular importance with fire pits that use natural gas.

Woodfire pits require more maintenance from a cleaning point of view but have fewer components that can wear out or become damaged when compared to a gas fire pit. Thus there are fewer and lower costs relating to the maintenance of a wood-burning fire pit.

Gas to fuel the fire pit can be expensive, especially if it is propane. Natural-gas costs are much lower than propane. Still, wood can be considerably cheaper, especially if you harvest it from your own property.

From a cost perspective, the wood fire pit scores a 4/5 and the gas fire pit a 2/5 due to the significantly higher initial costs.

Wood won this round; check out wood Firepits on Amazon

Fire Pits For Marshmallows And Smores, Which is best Gas or Wood?

For kids, and likely the kid in us all has roasting marshmallows and making smores in mind when we see a fire. You can roast marshmallows on either a gas fire pit or a natural wood fire pit, but which does the marshmallows best?

A wood-burning fire turns out best for roasting marshmallows, especially when one waits for the embers to form. The embers provide an even intense heat to get the golden-brown prize marshmallow. If you like burnt marshmallows, then any ole flame will work.

ready for marshmallows

Yep, the embers and coals produced by a real wood fire will create the perfect situation for roasting marshmallows. The embers provide a steady and intense heat. Then, you just turn your roasting stick like a rotisserie, and a perfect marshmallow is born.

Open flames as with a gas fire pit or even with a natural wood firepit will allow these following things to happen, about the same with each.

  • Blackish soot can accumulate on your marshmallow
  • The marshmallow could catch on fire quicker
  • Takes longer to cook because the heat is in the flame
best marshmallows

Best for Marshmallows, the wood fire pit scores a 4/5 because you need to wait for the coals and embers. The gas firepit is a 3/5 because you can roast them.

Wood won this round; check out wood Firepits on Amazon

Which Fire Pit Should You Choose?

The scores are pretty closely matched when we tally up our two fire pit challenger’s scores within the various categories.

I actually was surprised that the result was so close. I will say that for your backyard and outdoor space, it will probably come down to your allowed usages of a fire pit and cost. Plus, you may weigh your own scores differently, so here is the table for your reference.


Gas Fire Pit Score

Wood Fire Pit Score

Atmosphere and ambiance



Fuel – storage, cleanliness, environment



Heat Output






Cooking ability















The main deciding factor between the two types of pits will be whether wood fire pits are allowed at your location. Plus, if you put a different weighting on any of the categories due to your personal preferences.

Can I Burn Natural Wood In A Gas Fire Pit?

People often query if they could have the best of both worlds by burning wood occasionally in their gas fire pit.

Burning wood in a gas fire pit is not safe. The high-intensity heat from the wood fire will damage the gas components. This can result in a gas explosion or costly repairs. In addition, ash from the wood can clog the jets on the gas nozzles, limiting the effectiveness of the gas fire.

You should never attempt to burn wood in a gas-fueled fire pit!


The decision as to which is better, a gas or wood-burning fire pit, is subjective based on your personal needs and preferences. My personal is a real wood fire pit, and the scoring and results may be biased to show that? I tried to be neutral when scoring.

A wood fire pit may require more work clearing out the ash, but you may be willing to do this for the trade-off of having a more traditional fire.

If you prefer clean-burning gas, this will be your highest priority that will sway your decision-making. Either way, a fire pit is an attractive addition to your outdoor entertainment area. It will bring you many hours of relaxation, fun, and enjoyment, as well as increase the value of your home. If you are leaning toward a gas firepit, check out this article on Can Propane Firepits Use Natural Gas?

Will Montgomery

Will, a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, aspires to be your trusted source for all backyard essentials. Passionate about frugal yet stylish outdoor living, he leverages his engineering background and hands-on experience to guide you in creating your family's dream outdoor space, all while staying budget-friendly.

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