The $199 BioLite FirePit, which hit the market in August, is a portable device—around the size of a cooler—that creates smoke-free campfires by optimizing airflow. A fan inside the rechargeable power pack that attaches to the side of the FirePit pumps air through 51 small jets that line the chamber, one row targeting the fuel, the other fanning the flames. “Blowing air onto the wood allows the fuel to burn extra hot, and blowing directly into the flames creates clean combustion,” says Tim Connolly, product lead at BioLite. Because it burns fuel more efficiently, the FirePit requires less wood. (BioLite’s HomeStove, which provides cleaner, safer combustion for the more than 3 billion people in developing nations who cook meals over open fires, received an Innovation by Design Award in 2014.)
The unit—available at REI and on Amazon—can hold up to four standard logs, or users can raise the fuel rack, scatter charcoal on top, and turn it into a grill. Either way, they will be able to watch the flames lapping. The first few iterations of the FirePit, Connolly says, were built with steel siding, which blocked the warmth from the fire. The final version is encased in what BioLite calls “X-Ray mesh”—a durable, perforated material that, once illuminated from the inside, all but disappears: Flames appear to be suspended in midair. “Anytime you’re seeing a fire, you’re getting heat from it,” Connolly says. In this case, minus the big mouthful of smoke.
BioLite is an honorable mention in the 2018 Innovation By Design Awards. Check out all the honorees here.